The Russian government will double state spending on oil exploration to 2020 to $23 billion with the focus on oil in eastern Siberia to ensure a “good” replenishment of reserves, the country’s Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said yesterday.

Trutnev told reporters that the Cabinet had approved his proposal to increase state spending on mineral resources exploration to 544 billion rubles ($23 billion) from the previous 261 billion rubles ($11 billion) and speed up exploration from next year, instead of 2010.

“We believe that if we wait for one more year it will not improve the situation with mineral resources in Russia,” he told a government meeting. According to Trutnev, the country’s oil output may fall this year for the first time in a decade as it struggles with rising costs and harder-to-reach fields.

“Two years ago, we said the growth rate was falling, and we said this was bad for Russia, remember?” Trutnev said in televised remarks after the meeting. “Now we’re saying the production rate is falling this year. This is not a bogeyman, unfortunately, this is real”.