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Russia resumes oil supplies to Belarus after pricing dispute

EPA-EFE/ANDREI LIANKEVICH/FILE PICTURE
The first pump station on Belarus territory of the Druzhba pipeline, near the village of Bobovichi, Belarus.

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Belarus has reached an agreement with Russia for limited oil supplies after Moscow stopped supplying crude two weeks ago amid stalled talks on strengthening economic ties between the neighbouring countries, AP reported on 4 January. Belarusian state-run oil company Belneftekhim said on 4 January that the country’s refineries started receiving the first batch of crude oil, sufficient to ensure “non-stop operation of the country’s refineries in January 2020.”
Russian pipeline operator Transneft confirmed earlier on 4 January it would transfer 133,000 tonnes of oil to Belarus.
According to a statement from Belneftekhim, the oil would come at a discounted price while negotiations for resuming regular imports continue.
In a case resembling Russia’s relationship with Ukraine, Russia stopped supplying oil to Belarus, which has traditionally relied on Russia for crude, after 31 December as the two countries failed to reach an agreement on the closer ties and on oil and gas prices.
Moscow has recently increased pressure on Belarus, raising energy prices and cutting subsidies. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Russia was not ready to “subsidize” energy supplies without more economic integration with ally Belarus while Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko reportedly insisted that he would proceed with the integration until the issues with oil and gas supplies were resolved.
Over 90% of Belarus crude oil imports come from Russia. However, Russia depends on Belarus for oil transit to western markets as about 10% of Western Europe’s oil supplies come from Russia, via a pipeline transiting Belarus.

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Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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