It is the first time Belarus has bought Iranian crude oil. The country seems to be looking for alternative crude oil supplies after Russia cut exports to Belarus in the second half of 2016 and is threatening further cuts this year over a row about gas pricing between Minsk and Moscow.
A few days ago, Reuters reported that Belarus had bought 600,000 barrels (80,000 tonnes) of Iranian Light and Heavy crude oil from National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for loading in February. In turn, Russian state-controlled media served up the report as a sensation.
“The fact that the deal was signed in the Iranian exporter’s office in Poland deserves close attention,” topwar.ru stresses.
Belarus president Alyaksandr Lukashenka personally ordered his government to ‘look for alternative suppliers of oil and gas’, when Russia demanded Belarus should pay the debt for the gas delivered, the online publication says.
The oil and gas conflict between Russia and Belarus has been running on over a year. Two capitals failed to come to terms over payments for Russian gas delivered in 2016. Minsk was indignant at the fact that Russian consumers bought gas at subsidized prices. Belarus is seeking the same subsidies for domestic enterprises so that they could compete on the Russian market.
The conflict erupted as Belarus started to pay $73 per thousand cubic meters while the contract price for the Russian gas was $132.
In October, Belarus was late in paying the debt for gas. The government was to transfer to “Gazprom” $281 million. Later, it became known that Minsk had not transferred money for Russian gas, as it expected signing of ‘some’ agreements.
Against the backdrop of the gas dispute and a default on deliveries of petroleum products, Russia reduced the supply of oil to Belarusian refineries by 5.25 mln tons, which crushed the export of Belarusian oil products. In response to the Russia’s measures, from October 11, Belarus wanted to raise tariffs for the transit of Russian oil through Belarusian territory by 50%. Later this resolution was canceled in exchange for the restoration of the full volume of oil supplies from Russia.
The ‘gas war’ has already cost Belarus 0.3% of GDP. According to the Russian side, Belarus’s debt reached $550,000.
Belsat.eu, following topwar.ru