MINSK, 21 January (BelTA) – Belarus will soon start importing oil from alternative sources, Chairman of the Belarusian state petrochemical concern Belneftekhim Andrei Rybakov told the media after the government meeting hosted by the Belarusian head of state on 21 January, BelTA has learned.
“We are working on the alternative routes. I will not reveal the details. I can only say that some contracts have almost been finalized,” Andrei Rybakov said when asked about which countries, except Russia, Belarus can import oil from in the near future. “This applies not only to oil itself but also to logistics channels. This will not be ports or railway. It will be other means,” he said.
The Belneftekhim head also said when Belarus expects a shipment of Norwegian oil for its Naftan refinery. “We expect to get the oil tomorrow (22 January) evening,” he said.
As for the technological possibility to refine oil of different grades at the equipment of the Belarusian refineries, Andrei Rybakov explained that the Belarusian refineries had already processed a different oil grade when there were difficulties with oil supplies from Russia. “We are currently working in various directions and looking at different oil grades,” he said. “There are two aspects here: the equipment itself and the possibility to blend different oil grades so that the equipment could process them.”
BelTA reported earlier that on 1 January Russia stopped delivering oil to Belarus. Belarusian oil refineries – Mozyr Oil Refinery and OAO Naftan – reduced their workload to the minimum the technology allows. Belneftekhim is ready to satisfy the domestic demand for automobile fuel in full. The export of oil products was temporarily suspended. On 4 January Belneftekhim announced its agreement with a Russian company for the first batch of oil without paying a premium. The Belarusian government said that ways for alternative oil supplies are under consideration.
On 20 January, the Belarusian oil company bought a batch of 80,000 tonnes of Norwegian oil to be processed at Naftan. The oil will be shipped through the Klaipeda port and delivered to Belarus by rail.
Under the instruction that Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko gave at the meeting on 21 January, the country will continue seeking alternative sources for oil supplies in addition to the import of Russian oil. “Indeed, there is no complete alternative to Russian oil now. But we have to diversify [imports] as we've agreed. We have to take steps and get 30-40% of oil from the Russian Federation. We should import about 30% from the Baltic states and about 30% via Ukraine – it's been tried and tested. Kazakhstan may supply oil to us if Russia agrees to it. It is odd that our ally refuses to allow another ally of ours to supply oil to us. Well, this is the oil supply situation we have to deal with at present,” the head of state said.