SVETLOGORSK, 14 February (BelTA) – Belarus will continue buying oil in other countries even if this oil is more expensive than Russian. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement as he met with personnel of Svetlogorsk Pulp and Board Mill on 14 February, BelTA has learned.
During recent negotiations in Sochi President of Russia Vladimir Putin questioned the advisability of Belarus buying oil from other countries. “Why would you do it if it is still more expensive than Russian oil?” he wondered.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that Belarus will continue diversifying purchases. “In order not to kneel down every year on 31 December,” the head of state explained.
The president stressed that Belarus is not going to pay a premium to Russian oil companies, even more so, because they offer oil at world prices. “We don't ask for cheap oil. We will buy oil at the world price and will process it. And it will be profitable for the companies,” he said.
“In Sochi we agreed that the Russian government and Deputy Head of the Russian President Administration Dmitry Kozak personally will oversee this matter and will help us come to terms. A signal was sent: if Belarus negotiates with someone, help them deliver this oil from Russia via the pipeline. I didn't blackmail anyone. I said if Russia fails to deliver the necessary amount of oil – Russia supplied only 0.5 million in January or 1.5 million tonnes less than expected – we will start taking oil from the transit pipeline, too. As much as 70 million tonnes of oil is pumped via Belarus for Belarus and for the West. And they have no problems. We properly and honestly pump this oil. Do you remember polluted oil in summer? Russia has yet to pay for it although equipment at our oil refineries in Mozyr and Novopolotsk has been damaged as well as the oil pipeline Druzhba. This is why if [Russia] fails to deliver in February, we will take oil [from the pipeline] to get 2 million tonnes,” Aleksandr Lukashenko warned.
Besides, in his words, Belarus is negotiating oil deliveries from the European Union via one of the lines of the oil pipeline system Druzhba in reverse mode. “We are going to get oil from Gdansk via the pipeline. We will buy the oil from Saudi Arabia, Emirates, or the United States of America,” the president said. If it happens, Russia will not supply oil to the West via the Druzhba system but Belarus will pump oil from Europe.
Baltic Sea ports will also be used to import oil to Belarus. The USA can assist with that. “I've told the Balts: we can buy oil in the Baltic Sea region, import it via Lithuania or Latvia (depends on what terms we can agree on), refine it, and satisfy the demand of the entire Baltic Sea region,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said while talking about how the Novopolotsk-based oil refinery intends to operate. The oil refinery in Novopolotsk may act similarly: oil can be delivered via the Black Sea while the oil refinery can then supply its products to Ukraine and partially countries of the European Union.
In response to Russian remarks that such schemes for importing oil are expensive, Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that Russia allocated dozens of billions of U.S. dollars on building the TurkStream and the Nord Stream in the past. Although they could have exported natural gas via Ukraine at a much lower cost even if they had accepted Kiev's additional terms. But Russia stated back then it would never accept it out of principle and went ahead with building the gas pipelines to bypass Ukraine. “I say no just like they did. We are going to work on these alternative oil delivery options,” the president added. “We openly and honestly talk about this logistics.”
On the whole, Aleksandr Lukashenko described the recent talks in Sochi as a rough and honest conversation. “As for oil, we will get the world price without any premiums just as we asked. Without any discounts. We don't need any discounts,” the head of state stated.