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Russia will lower oil shipments to Belarus from 6 million tons to 5 million tons in the second quarter of 2017, according to a new Reuters report.
Sources close to the matter said that oil flows to Belarus would increase in lieu of shipments to the Baltic Sea port of Primorsk, which is Russia’s largest oil port.
Transneft, the Russian oil pipeline company, also said that oil flows to Belarus would stay at the 24-million-ton level after Moscow and Minsk reached an agreement on oil payments. In the second half of 2017, the recipient country is expected to import 15 million tons of Russian oil.
Diplomatic tensions began when Belarus complained of the $132 per 1,000 cubic meters rate set by the Russian company Gazprom. Minsk started underpaying for the gas shipments, but agreed earlier this month to gradually pay the outstanding $726 million Moscow said it owed Gazprom—an agreement that was seen as good enough by the Russian side. In return, Russia would resume crude oil shipments to its neighbor. These were suspended last month as a retaliatory measure after Belarus refused to pay for the gas.
The news was a sharp turn away from the growing tensions displayed by the two countries earlier this year, with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claiming that the country could survive without Russian oil and accusing Russia of reinstalling border controls because of Belarus’ move to the West.
In February—for the first time in Belarus’ history—Minsk signed a contract to purchase crude oil from the National Iranian Oil Company to deal with reduced energy supplies due to the row with Russia.
Over the course of the diplomatic tensions, Belarus also bought Azerbaijani blends, but the importer stopped the transactions in search of a sour grade to replace Ural blends.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…