Published on : 01/24/2020 – 13:34
Belarus wants to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and diversify its sources of supply. In the context of an energy conflict with Moscow, Minsk begins to buy Norwegian oil.
Belarus bought 80,000 tonnes of Norwegian crude oil, a first for this country, which until now has only bought Russian oil. The goal of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is to diversify his sources of supply so that he no longer depends on his big neighbor.
At the end of 2019, the presidents of the two countries met on several occasions, but without success. They were unable to reach an agreement on the delivery prices of the crude oil. Moscow wants to increase the price, Minsk refuses. The two countries, which have been allies since the breakup of the Soviet Union, are currently going through turbulent relations due to this disagreement.
Consequences: At the beginning of January, deliveries of Russian oil were interrupted. In fact, the supply contract that linked the two countries expired on December 31. Despite their disagreement, a provisional agreement was reached to cover the needs of Belarus, but this contract only covers the month of January.
Russian oil is however vital for Belarus. The country until recently imported Russian crude oil at preferential rates, 24 million tonnes each year. 6 million for its domestic needs, the rest being refined in national refineries and then exported to Europe, an important additional income for this poor country.
To no longer depend on his neighbor, the Belarusian president would like to buy only 30 to 40% of Russian oil, the rest would come from abroad. An ambition difficult to achieve, because foreign crude is more expensive than Russian crude. Last September, Lithuania and Poland, two countries wary of Moscow, offered to help Belarus reduce its dependence on Russian oil.