Belarus looking for alternative oil suppliers not in order to pressure Russia - Lukashenko
MINSK. Sept 26 (Interfax) - Belarus is working on various options to buy oil from markets other than Russia, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said during a meeting with Ukrainian media representatives.
"We are not trying to pressure Russia. We are looking for alternatives," the BelTA news agency quoted Lukashenko as saying at the meeting.
The tax maneuver in the Russian oil industry is one reason. "They went ahead with the tax maneuver by taxing the extraction of mineral resources in Russia. There are still no customs duties impeding trade but they've introduced this tax and oil has become more expensive," Lukashenko said.
"We are being pushed towards the international price. In response I said in St. Petersburg last time that we will be forced to buy oil on the market," he said, adding that the Russian oil variety Urals is not the best oil available on the global market.
"During negotiations I said openly that we have three options, we are making calculations regarding oil deliveries to our oil refineries. Moreover, we will upgrade the refineries mostly this year. They will operate at a profit even if we buy expensive oil in the Mediterranean Sea region or the Black Sea region or the Baltic Sea region. We will buy it, process it, and will turn a profit," Lukashenko said.
"But we can process 25 million tonnes of oil today. We will bring this oil to the Russian market because their sales are here. Let's say, we use Iranian, American, Saudi oil, oil from the Arab Emirates. A sheikh was here some time ago, we had talks. Does Russia want this? You will lose the market. At least 20-25 million tonnes. I am convinced Russia doesn't want it. Let's negotiate a deal! No deal so far," he said.