‘We just want to buy oil at global prices’

Russia and Belarus agreed on oil purchases for 2020

Last week’s talks between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi “were held in a constructive, normal and absolutely businesslike atmosphere”. The parties even made some progress in resolving a long-standing energy dispute. In 2020, Belarus will buy Russian oil at global prices, and both countries seem to be satisfied with the agreement.

Moscow and Minsk have finally reached an agreement on energy supplies to Belarus, reports BelTA. On Friday, President Vladimir Putin met with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko at Putin’s residence in Sochi to discuss a broad range of issues. According to First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Dmitry Krutoy, while journalists focused solely on oil and gas matters, the one-to-one talks went much further than that, as the presidents also reviewed the results of bilateral trade in 2019.

According to Krutoy, Belarusian exports to Russia increased by 4,5% in 2019, which amounts to $600 million. “The governments were instructed to continue and reinforce this trend,” said the official. Besides, the presidents discussed the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant and the upcoming commissioning of the first energy unit.

However, oil and gas supplies were the most important part of the agenda. “Russia agreed that Belarusian oil refineries will purchase oil from Russian oil companies at global prices,” said Krutoy adding that the Belarusian side was pushing for it during the talks. “Belarus does not need any special or exclusive terms. We just want to buy oil at global prices, and that’s all,” emphasised the official. According to Belsat, Belarus, which has been working for many years mainly with big Russian companies such as Rosneft, Lukoil and Tatneft, is now going to start working with small companies as well. Krutoy stressed that “any company [...] will be allowed to pipe, transit, supply through Transneft as an agent”. About 100 million tonnes of oil is produced and supplied by small companies in Russia, he added.

President Putin promised the Belarusian side his backing in talks with Russian energy companies and authorised Deputy Chief of Staff of Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak to supervise oil talks with Belarus.

As for gas prices, it has been agreed that Belarus will pay $127 per 1,000 cubic metres, which is the same as in 2019. However, the acting gas contract covers only January and February, so Minsk intends to reduce the price for March-December 2020. “Naturally, at the talks with Gazprom we will try to negotiate a lower price, but the base option of $127 has been agreed on at the presidential level,” commented Krutoy.

By Anna Litvina

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