Russia Continues Delivering Crude Oil to Belarus
Russia continues delivering crude oil to the Belarusian refineries, Maryna Kastsyuchenka, spokeswoman for the Belarusian State Petrochemical Concern (Belnaftakhim), told BelaPAN on Monday.
"Oil is being delivered. The situation has not changed as of today," she said.
Since the beginning of January crude oil has been supplied to the Naftan and MNPZ refineries under last year's contracts and the amounts of oil deliveries specified in the contracts are expected to be used up before February.
Ms. Kastsyuchenka would not say whether new oil supply contracts had been signed, citing secrecy issues.
Belarus and Russia have so far failed to reach an agreement on this year's terms of oil trade.
The most recent round of talks on the matter was held in Moscow on January 9 and ended in failure. It was not known on Monday when the negotiations could resume.
Under an interstate agreement that was signed on January 12, 2007 and expired on December 31, 2009, crude oil exported to Belarus was subject to reduced export duty, which was 35.6 percent of the rate applied to oil exports to other countries.
Late last year Russia offered to supply up to six million tons of oil to Belarus free of duty in 2010 for its domestic consumption. An agreement was reached for Belarus to receive a total of 21.5 million tons of oil in 2010 and Moscow wanted the amount to be supplied in excess of the six million tons be subject to the full duty rate, warning that if a new agreement on the terms of oil deliveries failed to be signed, all oil supplied to Belarus would be subject to the full duty rate starting January 1.
Minsk reportedly demanded that all Russian oil to be supplied to Belarus be exported duty-free, explaining that this would meet the spirit of agreements recently reached by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia to form a customs union.
In a letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on January 13, Alyaksandr Lukashenka accused Russia of backtracking on an oil delivery agreement that were reached in December. Referring to the agreement reached during a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Belarus and Russia on December 10, 2009, Mr. Lukashenka said that oil was to be delivered to Belarus in the first two or three months of 2010 free of export duty. "However, the Russian Federation subsequently abandoned the agreements and put forward conditions that were unacceptable for Belarus," the Belarusian leader said.