Belarus is looking at options to buy oil from markets other than Russia, and potential deliveries via Poland’s Gdańsk have “turned out to be the most profitable option,” the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko has said, according to reports.
Lukashenko made the statement during a meeting with Ukrainian reporters on Thursday, Poland’s energetyka24.com website has reported, citing Belarusian state news agency BelTA.
The Belarusian head of state told newsmen that his country was forced to look for alternative oil supplies after Russia went ahead with a “tax maneuver by taxing the extraction of mineral resources,” according to the BelTA news agency.
“There are still no customs duties impeding trade but they've introduced this tax and oil has become more expensive,” Lukashenko said, as quoted on the belta.by website.
He was cited as saying that “getting oil from Gdańsk – via Poland to Belarus – turned out to be the most profitable option.”
He added, as quoted by the Belarusian state news agency: “We could make a link and deliver oil to two oil refineries simultaneously. We will use two lines of the Druzhba oil pipeline initially. And we will use them to deliver oil in reverse mode. Not from Russia but from other places [via Poland] to us.” Lukashenko also said, according to belta.by: “We are not trying to pressure Russia. We are looking for alternatives.”
Russia’s “tax maneuver” could cost the Belarusian economy up to USD 10 billion over the next six years, according to Belarus’ finance ministry, energetyka24.com reported.
The Polish website said Belarusian officials have begun making efforts to seek compensation from Russia for possible losses and at the same time taking the first steps to diversify their country’s oil supplies.
Minsk is eyeing opportunities to import oil from the United States, according to energetyka24.com. The website noted that then-US National Security Adviser John Bolton visited Minsk in late August. He also visited Warsaw and the Ukrainian capital Kiev around that time, energetyka24.com reported.
It said the talks may have touched on a plan to diversify supplies by importing oil from the United States via the Polish Baltic port of Gdańsk and on a possible increase in the sale of Belarusian petroleum products to Ukraine on the basis of US oil. Such a scenario would serve to boost the energy security of both Belarus and Ukraine, the Polish website reported.
It said Belarus relied on Russian oil, while Ukraine was struggling with dependence on Russian fuel, especially diesel.