Moonshiners smuggle moonshine, Belarusians smuggle oil products
Russia is ready to ship 18 million tons of oil to Belarus on the condition that Belarus ships back 2.1 million tons of oil products, a source close to the ongoing negotiations told the Agency of Oil Information (AOL).
"We are ready to ship 18 million tons, maximum – 18.5 million tons, but only on the condition of shipment of 2.1 million tons of oil products in return," the source said.
A source in Russia's Ministry of Energy confirmed to Interfax that one of the main issue of the negotiations was the volume of oil products made from Russian oil and shipped back to Russia.
"Russia needs the volumes very much, especially their petrol part, since a number of problems could arise in the domestic market," he source informed. "Meanwhile, the western direction of oil products' shipment is more profitable for Belarus. That is why there is a delay in the negotiations. The negotiations have not been completed yet."
The Interfax's source did not rule out that this issue could be put to the agenda in early December during the session of the Council of Ministers of the Union State and the meetings at the top level.
However, Minsk still insists on Russia to ship to Belarus 23 million tons of oil.
7 million tons of oil is enough for Belarus to meet the purpose of home consumption. Why then the country needs 23 million tons of oil? Leanid Zaika, head of an analytical center called Strategy, answers the question in the interview with UDF.BY.
"In 1990s Belarus lived and was happy to buy approximately 10 million tons of oil annually. Belarusians themselves have enough of it to drive cars, for girls to fuel their 'Jeeps', and it is enough for valiant road police officers, too.
That's why I ask myself: why the country that would have enough oil for home consumption if it had 7 million tons of oil, needs 23 million tons? This is because 48 percent of our exports are oil products. Belarus has turned from the country that works into the country that transfers and smuggles. Belarus has turned into a moonshiner. Moonshiners smuggle moonshine. And we transfer and smuggle oil products. The country is like a drug pusher who've got a kilo of heroin. He may do nothing - to sell heroin and be happy. But the most sad thing is that democratic and smart Europe buys our heroin. That's the snag," Mr. Zaika said.
According to him, the capacity of two Belarus' oil refineries is enough to process 30 million tons of oil. "If I was Alyaksandr Lukashenka I would ask 30 million tons of oil. This is the volume that our refineries processed in Soviet times. In addition, I would establish some more refineries..."
In his opinion, Russia's tough stance on the volume and terms of oil supplies to Belarus in 2013 is caused by the desire to give a slap in the face of Minsk. "Russia has decided to punish the unlucky partner. Not only that Minsk bought oil at a cheap price, it even cheated the partner with the help of solvents and diluents. Russia has decided to give a slap," Mr. Zaika said.
According to him, it is due to Russia that Belarus has become dependent on oil and, probably, Belarus will get rid of this dependency due to Russia, too.