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12 March 2024, 16:40

Lukashenko deems Belarus’ oil reserves underestimated

MINSK, 12 March (BelTA) – Belarus’ oil reserves are underestimated. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement during a government conference held on 12 March to discuss the state and development of the country’s mining industry, geological exploration work, including work targeting hydrocarbon raw materials, BelTA has learned.

The first thing the president pointed out is how much oil was extracted in Belarus in the USSR times: about 8 million tonnes per annum or about 9 million tonnes according to some sources. The specialists, who were present at the conference, confirmed the figures. This is why the head of state reasonably wondered why the oil extraction volume had dropped so significantly and what options are available for increasing it.

“We used to extract about 8 million tonnes of oil in the Soviet times. I mention the figure for a reason. Everyone knows the natural and geological conditions in Belarus. We used to extract 8 million tonnes. Today we extract approximately 2 million tonnes. What is the problem? I am getting explanations that the oil reserves have been depleted. I don’t believe it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“We have to use what we have wisely and in a businesslike manner,” he continued. “We have to look for what we don’t have but what we intend to have. We are not looking for it well.” This is why the head of state believes it is necessary to step up geological exploration efforts.

It was noted that Belorusneft enjoys a monopoly in the country’s oil industry. The company truly works quite well and boasts advanced competences. However, an alternative evaluation of the state of affairs in this field was necessary. Particularly with regard to prospecting for new commercial oil reserves.

Specialists note that reserves and the potential are available and the annual increase in discovered reserves confirms it. No, not all the reserves are easy to recover or economically expedient to extract taking into account the geological conditions of where this oil is. Extracting this oil to the detriment of the company is not the idea. The main task is to work better. It is necessary to thoughtfully look for new oil deposits wherever possible and allocate the necessary resources. It is important for everyone to work hard and to do one’s best for it.

“The country always needs its own mineral resources and raw materials. Sovereignty and the stable development of the economy depend on it,” the president stressed. “If we could extract 5 million tonnes of oil instead of 2 million, we would be a rich country. This is why we are looking into the problem.” Aleksandr Lukashenko believes it is more topical to use the domestic raw materials now in view of the ever-increasing pressure of sanctions against Belarus.

The head of state said: “I am told that as of today the commercial reserves of Belarusian oil make up about 45 million tonnes. In 2016-2023 the reserves grew by 14 million tonnes, including by 2.5 million tonnes in 2023 alone. It is a record high of the last 40 years. The application of new technologies, an increase in seismic exploration and drilling have allowed increasing oil extraction by 20,000 tonnes per annum on the average since 2017.”

However, Aleksandr Lukashenko believes the growth rate is insufficient and wants a comprehensive approach to the matter. “What are the prospects of developing the wells and what are we going to do about hard-to-recover resources? How many years do the geological exploration plans cover? Do you have enough domestic specialists and equipment?” the president formulated a number of questions.

The head of state stressed that there are no topics of secondary importance in economy and there can be none because the country’s sovereignty and the nation’s wellbeing depend on the stability of the economy. “It is the most important thing. This is why I repeat once again: go and look for what the country needs,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. It is understandable that oil extraction conditions in Belarus’ existing oil fields are far from simple and it is necessary to bear in mind economic expediency, but the president pointed out neighboring countries, in particular, Russia explore and extract oil in similar conditions after all.

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