Russneft, Neftisa to Boost Oil Supplies to Belarus amid Pricing Problems

Two Russian oil companies controlled by the family of billionaire Mikhail Gutseriyev plan to increase oil supplies to Belarus this month, amid a wider energy spat between Moscow and Minsk, Vedomosti reported citing sources.

The supply of oil from Russia to Belarus was abruptly halted on Jan. 1 with companies including Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil and Surgutnefgetaz suspending deliveries as Moscow and Minsk argued over contract terms.

Russneft and Neftisa, parts of the Gutseriyev family’s Safmar Group, restored supplies to Belarus late on Jan. 4, the only companies to do so, while others continue to try and reach an agreement on new supply terms with state-run Belneftekhim, which controls Belarus’ two refineries.

The three sources, who are familiar with the oil supply schedule, said the Russian Energy Ministry, which oversees the oil export quotas, has granted the companies permission to export 650,000 tons via Transneft’s oil pipeline system and 100,000 tons by rail in the January-March period.

The amount is around half of the roughly 1.5 million tons of Russian oil Belarus consumes per month, with the sources saying Russneft and Neftisa were stepping in to maintain minimum levels of oil refining in the country, Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbor with which Moscow is seeking deeper political and economic integration.

The sources added that Russneft and Neftisa planned to deliver all 750,000 tons this month, noting that the amount includes the 130,000 tons Russneft had already agreed earlier this month to supply to Belarus.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, with whom Gutseriyev has traditionally had strong ties, said on Thursday that Moscow and Minsk had failed to reach a deal as Russia had asked for an oil price higher than the global average.

It was not clear at what price and under what conditions Russneft and Neftisa were supplying the oil to Belarus.

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