21 January 2018, Sunday, 3:41

Minsk blackmails Moscow with oil transit


Belarus threatens to halt Russian oil transit to Europe.

This remark was made by politologist Siarhei Musiyenka, who is considered to be Lukashenka's personal aide. He says Belarus may suspend supplies of Russian oil to Europe via the Druzhba pipeline, Moskovski Komsomolets newspaper writes. Musiyenka's remark was made in response to Transneft's statement about reducing oil shipments to Belarus by 400,000 tonnes in September. Russian experts thinks threats of Belarus are empty: Moscow has opportunities to deliver oil without the Druzhba pipeline.

Transneft made its statement on oil supplies cuts to Belarus after the arrest of Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner in Minsk. Transneft Vice President Mikhail Barkov explained the step by repair works on the Druzhba pipeline.

Belarus hurried to give a response to Russia. If the Druzhba pipeline needs to be repaired, it's necessary not to cut oil supplies by 400,000 tonnes but stop all supplies, according to Musiyenka. It means Russian oil won't be delivered to Europe.

“We have no doubts that Barkov tells the truth (that the Druzhba pipeline needs to be repaired). We have to thoroughly check our section of the pipeline. It means we will have to suspend the transit of Russian oil in the western direction to carry out a check. The entire transit may be suspended,” Musiyenka stressed.

Druzhba's capacity to European countries is 66.5mn tonnes of oil, senior analyst at Kapital company Viktor Markov says. According to the Central Dispatching Department of Fuel Energy Complex, 4.3mn tonnes of oil were delivered to Europe via the Druzhba pipeline in August, which is 25% of the total volume of Russian oil exports (16.256mn tonnes). Russia's annual shipments of oil to foreign markets via Belarus are 51.6mn tonnes.

“We can work without the Druzhba pipeline, but we will suffer losses. However, Belarus's threats to shut down the pipeline are empty. They won't do it. If they do it, we can find other ways to deliver out oil to Europe. We have other pipelines. For example, The Baltic Pipeline System (BPS) or the terminal in the Gulf of Finland,” Viktor Markov said.

The capacity of the Baltic Pipeline System is 50mn tonnes of oil per year, but the pipeline has a reserve, experts not. Belarus cannot just shut down the pipeline, analysts say. In the case the country is going to implement the threat, it's better to do it gradually. But Moscow has no problems with increasing deliveries via other Russian pipelines.