A protracted-running oil dispute between Russia and Belarus has for the primary time threatened to disrupt provides to Europe.
Belarus will begin taking crude from its transit pipeline if shipments from Russia are under the agreed 2 million tons this month, state information company Belta reported Friday, citing President Alexander Lukashenko. That may jeopardize Russian flows to the European Union alongside the large Druzhba hyperlink.
The warning comes amid a pricing disagreement between the 2 former Soviet republics, with Russian producers curbing crude provide to the neighboring nation this yr. A Kremlin official stated final week the Russian authorities can’t drive oil firms to produce crude to Belarus at decrease costs than they’re ready to supply.
Russia beforehand agreed to ship Belarus 24 million tons of oil this yr. Yet the nation solely obtained 500,000 tons in January, 1 / 4 of the anticipated quantity, in keeping with Lukashenko.
“If they don’t ship in February, we can be taking as much as 2 million tons” from the pipeline, the president stated in Svetlogorsk. He additionally reiterated the potential for reversing flows on one part of Druzhba, to ship oil from Europe to Belarus relatively than from Russia to the EU.
The Druzhba — or Friendship — pipeline to western Europe handles about 20% of all Russian crude exports outdoors the previous Soviet Union. It additionally ships oil from Kazakhstan to Europe.
Lukashenko has vowed to chop his nation’s near-total dependence on Russian crude to 40%. Belarus is trying to usher in Saudi, U.A.E. and U.S. oil by way of Poland. It may additionally obtain crude for its Naftan refinery by way of Baltic ports, after which promote the output to neighboring Lithuania and Latvia. The nation’s Mozyr refinery may very well be provided from the Black Sea after which ship refined merchandise to Ukraine.
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Yet it’s a significant overhaul of provides for a rustic historically reliant on its highly effective neighbor. As the dispute escalates, Lukashenko has claimed Russia’s leaders are “hinting” he ought to settle for a merger of their two nations in return for getting cheaper oil and fuel. The president dismissed such a situation as unacceptable.
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