Belarus Set to Sign Oil Deal with Russia: Belneftekhim

Belneftekhim, the state-run oil company of Belarus, said on Saturday that the country and Russia were ready to sign a deal on the first delivery of oil since Russian supplies were halted on Jan. 1 amid a dispute over contract terms, Reuters reported.

“Today, documents are being drawn up together with a Russian company to pump the first batch of oil, purchased at a price without premium,” Belneftekhim said in a statement, adding that the volumes would be delivered imminently and would allow for refineries in Belarus to work uninterrupted in January.

The supply interruption that began on Jan. 1 has forced refineries in Belarus to operate at minimum capacity, according to the Belarusian company. Meanwhile, the transit of crude exports via Belarus into the rest of Europe has continued as usual.

On Saturday, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported citing sources that the two countries cannot agree on oil supplies because of the effort from the Belarusian side to cancel the premium of $10 per ton to the market price. According to the sources, Minsk is asking for a $10 reduction in the contract price.

“The supply price in this direction is calculated as the market price plus a premium of approximately $10. Our shippers want to preserve it, the Belarusian side insists on reducing it,” the source said. RIA Novosti claims that the Russian sideis offering to maintain the conditions of 2019.

The halt comes after a series of calls between the countries’ leaders earlier this week failed to broker a compromise. President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko spoke on Monday and Tuesday, and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was also involved in last-minute efforts to reach a deal.