29 Jan 2020 20:51

Lukashenko asks govt to hold talks on oil supplies with Kazakhstan, sign agreement

MINSK. Jan 29 (Interfax) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has asked the government to conduct talks with Kazakhstan on oil and petroleum products supplies.

"The head of state by Decree No. 27 authorized the government to hold talks with Kazakhstan on trade and economic cooperation in the supply of crude oil and petroleum products to Belarus," Lukashenko's press office said.

The government was also authorized to negotiate a draft agreement and to sign it if the parties come to terms in the framework of an approved draft.

Lukashenko had on several occasions named Kazakhstan as a potential supplier of oil to Belarus. "This issue, among others, was discussed in October last year during an official visit by the Belarusian head of state to Kazakhstan," the press office said.

"Belarus continues working to diversify oil purchases. Various geographical directions for importing hydrocarbon resources and various logistics options are under consideration," the BelTA news agency quoted the press service as saying.

Igor Dyomin, spokesman for Russian pipeline operator Transneft , told Interfax that "the company has had no approaches regarding the transit of oil from Kazakhstan to Belarus." "Nobody has contacted us, not from Kazakhstan and not from Belarus," he said.

Since Moscow and Minsk did not sign an agreement on the terms of oil supplies in 2020, Russia stopped supplying crude to Belarusian oil refineries as of January 1, although supplies were partially resumed on January 4 by the oil companies of Mikhail Gutseriev's Safmar Group.

Belarus has offered to import oil from the Baltic States, Poland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Lukashenko has also said there had also been talks on supplies with the United States, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

Belarus plans to lower oil import from Russia to 40% of country's needs, Lukashenko has said. "We do not currently have a full alternative to Russian oil supplies. But as we agreed, we have to diversify. We need to get to the stage where we are buying 30%-40% of our oil from Russia. We should be importing around 30% from the Baltic States and 30% via Ukraine, this has been tried and tested," he said on January 21.

Belarus imported 17.6 million tonnes oil from Russia in 2019.

According to Transneft, 15.3 million tonnes of oil was transported from Kazakhstan via Russian territory in 2019.