8 Sep 2022 19:19

Belarus wants to export fertilizer via ports in Russia's Murmansk region - Lukashenko

MINSK. Sept 8 (Interfax) - Belarus intends to redirect a portion of its potassium fertilizer exports to ports in Russia's Murmansk region, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said.

"In the current conditions, a strategic topic for us is redirecting a portion of Belarus's export cargo to your ports, potassium fertilizer first and foremost. We're going to cooperate with the Murmansk region in this area," Lukashenko was quoted as saying by Belarusian state-run news agency BelTA on Thursday when receiving Murmansk Region Governor Andrei Chibis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin supports cooperation on logistics between Belarus and the Murmansk region, Lukashenko said. "He [Putin] asked me, 'You want to work in the Murmansk region, too?' I say, 'Absolutely. You don't put all your eggs in one basket.' He says, 'We're very interested in this and support it,'" Lukashenko said.

"I have been informed on all issues, and we have made the decision that we're going to cooperate in this area with the Murmansk region despite the fact that we're currently already working in the St. Petersburg area," he said.

The parties have already reached the necessary agreements, but still have not determined the cost of shipping cargo by rail, Lukashenko said. "I know that this is a federal government issue, but nonetheless. If you get involved in this, we'll solve this issue faster. Key decisions have been made. We're going to work in this direction. The northern direction will significantly add to our cooperation in the sphere of logistics taking into account St. Petersburg," Lukashenko told Chibis.

Lukashenko ties the long-term prospects for the development of logistics cooperation to expanding the potential of the Northern Sea Route. "And I nevertheless believe that someday the northern direction [Northern Sea Route] through the Arctic Ocean will develop very vigorously in supplies of cargo to the Asian portion of our planet. It will be a sensation. If cooperation goes well for us, we can seriously add millions of tonnes in order to develop this direction," he said.

Chibis told journalists after the meeting that a port may be built in Murmansk for the transshipment of Belarusian fertilizer. "We're seeing very concrete and practical results today, what the Belarusian president articulated on logistics, using Murmansk as a base for building a port for the transshipment of fertilizer. For us, this is a big and important joint step. We prepared it ahead of time, worked through it with specialists," he said.

Chibis expressed confidence in the financial viability of the project. "The project to use the port capacities of the Murmansk region to transship Belarusian cargo can definitely happen economically. I'm certain that all economic issues from the point of view of even the cost of delivering cargo can be solved. We're working very closely with both Russian Railways and the federal government. We have full understanding and support here," he said.

Belarus lost the ability to export potassium chloride through the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda in February of this year. Sectoral sanctions from the European Union are also in effect on Belarusian potassium fertilizer, as well as United States and EU sanctions on Belaruskali and its trader Belarusian Potash Company. Before sanctions, 10-11 million tonnes of potassium chloride were exported through Klaipeda every year.