Naftan, the giant of oil refining in Belarus, will stop its operation! So believe the strike committee of the company, which is now among nine others under U.S. sanctions again. According to various estimates, the Belarusian economy can lose up to a third of exports.
Minsk responded to the measures of Washington by tightening visa procedures and limiting the number of diplomats. How will the restrictions work and will they have any effect?
Gasoline, diesel fuel, solvents, oils — more than half of Belarusian Naftan products were exported mainly to the European Union and Ukraine. The plant’s European partners had six weeks to terminate the cooperation. It was not only the trading partners who met the deadline,” says Ihar Valiayeu from the strike committee of the plant.
Washington announced sanctions in response to the policy of the Belarusian government against its opponents on April 23. “Naftan got downright busy making quick deals and set production to the maximum to sell as many oil products as possible before June 3.”
“On the one hand, there is no oil. On the other hand, the increase in refining clearly shows that the refinery is going to stop. It is getting ready for a shutdown and, apparently, for a long time. It turns out that what the strikers could not do in their time (they could not stop the plant), the sanctions will do,” says Valiayeu.
Other enterprises of the industry can expect the cessation of production or a drop in volumes, and therefore in revenues. U.S. sanctions are imposed on a number of enterprises of Belneftekhim. These are Belshina, Grodno Azot, Grodno Khimvolokno, Lakokraska, Polotsk-Steklovolokno. Plus Belarusian Oil Trading House.
The new economic restrictions differ from those introduced in 2008 and abolished after the release of political prisoners.