25 May 2017, Thursday, 8:12

Oil Noose For Lukashenka

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Russia will further reduce oil supplies to Belarus.

Russia intends to reduce the export of oil to Belarus by 12% in the first quarter of 2017, the newspaper Kommersant writes, referring to sources familiar with the situation.

As the newspaper reports, according to the schedule, passed to the Belarusian side on 28 December, in the first quarter of this year, the volume of deliveries will be 4 million tons instead of the planned 4.5 million.

It is noted that Moscow will continue the practice of reducing oil supplies to encourage Minsk to pay off the increased $ 400 million debt for gas. Minsk expects that disputable points will be resolved in the first quarter: the Belarusian authorities have established new tariffs for pumping oil through its territory only for this period. Vice-Premier of Belarus Uladzimir Siamashka states that all the issues of the oil and gas conflict will be resolved within the next three months.

It is to be recalled that the oil and gas conflict between Russia and Belarus began, when due to the global drop in energy prices Minsk called the fair price of 73 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters for the gas, supplied by Russia to Belarus. Russia has been insisting on the observance of the current contract, which is valid for the period of 2015-2016 years. Now the price of gas for Belarus is 132 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich announced that Russia had decided to cut oil deliveries to Belarus because of the underpayment for gas supplies. In the third quarter of 2016, the oil supplies to Belarus were reduced by 2.25 million tons. Dvorkovich also said that the gas conflict between Russia and Belarus might be fixed-up through the courts.

According to experts, Russia reduced drastically the oil supplies to Belarus precisely in the midst of intensification of contradictions between the Kremlin and Lukashenka’s regime. In 2016, Belarus received only 18 million tons of oil instead of 24-25 million tons, as in previous years. It was planned that Belarus will get 18 million tons in 2017, but now this figure may become lower, and it is a very significant cutoff of financing to Lukashenka.