Belarus Demands $70mn from Russia as Compensation for Tainted Druzhba Oil


The disruption in flows in a pipeline carrying oil from Russia to Belarus this year should be compensated with $70 million from the Russian side, Belarusian officials have said, according to Reuters.

Vladimir Semashko, the Belarus ambassador to Moscow, said the compensation issue was discussed by presidents of the two countries in talks in the Russia city of Sochi on Saturday, Belta said.

The Russian Druzhba pipeline, which pumps 1 million barrels per day of oil to eastern and western Europe, was found in mid-April to be contaminated. The case affected supplies to customers, including Belarus and as far west as Germany.

Russia’s economy minister Maxim Oreshkin said on Saturday that the two countries have come closer to resolving their differences on oil and gas supplies.

“A lot of progress has been made, even on oil and gas. The positions have come significantly closer,” Oreshkin said, without providing any detail. He added that the two presidents would meet again in St. Petersburg on Dec. 20.

Lukashenko, who did not address the press after the talks, last month threatened not to sign an integration deal with Russia if it failed to resolve “oil and gas issues”.

Russia has provided energy subsidies to Belarus in the form of cheap oil and gas and low-cost loans to keep Minsk in its political orbit, but now plans to phase these out to lessen the burden on its economy.

Belarus has said that it stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year from changes to Russian tax policy and has tried to negotiate compensation. Russia says the subsidies cost its exchequer billions of dollars.