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24 January 2020, 14:05

Belarus president talks about viability of alternative oil delivery options

SHKLOV, 24 January (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko talked about the viability of alternative options for delivering oil to Belarus in addition to buying it in Russia as he addressed personnel of RUP Shklov Newsprint Mill on 24 January, BelTA has learned.

“As you can see, we have to stand on our knees and beg for these oil products every year on New Year's Eve,” the Belarusian leader noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that he did not bluff while talking to President of Russia Vladimir Putin about what Belarus would do if the Russian side kept insisting on its own terms.

Delivering oil via Baltic Sea ports is one of the alternatives. A batch of Norwegian oil has already been bought and is being delivered like that. Delivering oil from Gdansk using one pipe of the Druzhba pipeline is another Baltic route. The pipeline will have to be switched to reverse mode for that. “I told Putin directly: initially if we come to terms with the Poles, we will use one of the three pipes to import oil in reverse mode,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Importing oil via Ukraine from the Black Sea is another option and it has been tested already.

“And Russia is the fourth option. We are not going to reject this oil. But oil import will be diversified. In other words, we are not going to buy oil from one monopoly country,” the head of state said.

“We've started testing these options. We would like to see how things will work out, how much we will lose in comparison with the current price for Russian oil. It is not a bluff. It is not about Lukashenko raising the stakes ahead of negotiations as some claim. No stakes. We just want to see what we will get and how much we will lose in the process,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko added that if the problem is not resolved now, it will be necessary to deal with it at a crazy pace in two years. “Because the 18% customs duty they have yet to take away from us and cheaper Russian oil will be out of the question then. This is why we have to act now whether we like it or not. We cannot afford being dependent on one country, one enterprise. It is monopolism. It is our problem,” the head of state is convinced.

In his words, Belarus is making deals with all players on the global market: Americans, Saudi Arabia, Emirates. “I have excellent relations with them. They promise to supply as much oil as we need. Certainly, at the global price. But the quality of their oil is better,” the president added.

“No bluff, no pressure. Fair play across the board. They wanted us to pay up, we will. But as we hold negotiations everywhere (as per my instructions to the government), we will say that we have to pay whatever something is worth,” the head of state said. “The entire world pays the world price. Today's price for oil is not that high, this is why we should get used to it. It is unavoidable. Moreover, we will become more independent when we launch our nuclear power plant. We will have to import one quarter less of natural gas, it is another factor of our security.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belarus had already lived through the most difficult years. “I don't want to say that everything will be easy. We will not perish. We've seen worse. We will survive now, too. We are a proud and independent nation. We sacrificed the life of every third Belarusian to protect our common fatherland once. We once drilled oil and gas wells in the Russian Federation. People would fly over there from all over the country. But they are no longer ours. And Belarusians built entire cities over there, and I've been to those cities.”

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