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Moscow is punishing Minsk

Russian companies have suspended deliveries of oil products to Belarus. Both sources say “Газеты.Ru” this is due to the fact that Belarus violates the agreement on fuel supplies to Russia. Behavior Minsk is clear: to sell gasoline in Europe is much more profitable, it’s 2.5 times more expensive.

Москва наказывает Минск

Gazprom and Tatneft recommended to suspend deliveries of petroleum products to Belarus. On Thursday reported the Agency “Interfax” with reference to the minutes of the meeting of the government Commission on the fuel and energy sector, which took place on March 17.

In particular, according to the transcripts, the Vice-Premier of Russia Arkady Dvorkovich instructed the Ministry of energy, the Ministry of Finance and Federal customs service to report on the causes of the sharp increase in exports of petroleum products subsidiaries of “Gazprom” and “Tatneft” in Belarus, as well as to provide copies of documents and calculations related to the payment of customs duties during the deliveries and the losses of the budget from them. In this regard, companies were recommended to freeze delivery pending consideration by the Russian government of the documents requested.

Press Secretary Arkady Dvorkovich alia Samigullina confirmed “Газете.Ru” that Commission raised the issue of restrictions on the supply of Russian gas to Belarus. “But that was not the recommendation of the experts, it was the Commission’s decision,” emphasizes Samigullina.

In “Gazprom” say that the company is currently preparing a response to the Ministry of energy. “The scope of supply of petroleum products subsidiaries of “Gazprom” to Belarus in 2015 has increased due to favourable market conditions,” — said the representative of the gas monopoly, but what are the volumes, did not elaborate.

With “Tatneft” could not be reached.

A source familiar with the situation, said that supplies of oil products to Belarus has been discontinued. “This is due to the fact that Minsk does not comply with the agreement on mutual supply of fuel, disrupting the balance of supply,” said the source, “Газеты.Ru”.

Belarus buys Russian duty-free oil supplies and Russia in return for oil products. Traditionally, the share of Belarusian gasoline in the Russian market is 3-5%. However, in January 2016, the country has put the Eastern neighbour only 239 tonnes (0,2% from last year). In February the deliveries were stopped. By the way, earlier Belarus has assumed obligations to supply to Russia of at least 1 million tonnes of motor gasoline obtained from 24 million tonnes, which this year should be supplied by Russia. The volume of deliveries of oil products from Russia to Belarus has not been disclosed.

Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko in early February said that for Belarus in the current situation, to put gasoline in Russia means to work “deep in the loss.”

This is not surprising, because in Russia the Belarusians sell their gasoline for rubles, then how to export the fuel to the Euro. Given the depreciation of the ruble against the European currency, the difference is very noticeable.

If in Russia at the beginning of March, the national average retail price of gasoline AI-95 was $ 36.8 rubles. per liter, or about €0,48, then, for example, in Germany, a similar liter of fuel was worth €1.22 m.

Belarus now needs money to support the economy: last year, the country’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $883,3 million and on 1 January was $4,1758 billion in January they fell by another $149 million

It should be noted that Russia had not been to “punish” Belarus for violation of terms of delivery of petroleum products by reducing the supply of oil.

Expert of the national energy security Fund the political scientist Igor Yushkov indicates that thus Belarus will be deprived of profit that could be obtained relatively quickly — revenue from exporting petroleum products.

“Now, any fraction of petroleum that could be sold abroad, Belarus will have to leave to saturate their own market”, — says the expert.

Minsk not for the first time concedes “oil” agreement with Russia. Previously the conditions of Russian oil deliveries to Belarus expected that the export of petroleum products derived from this oil, the export duty will be transferred to Minsk to the Russian budget. In 2011-2012 there was a scandal associated with the fact that Belarus sold in the Europe automotive fuel under the guise of solvents and diluents that allowed them to escape payment of duties. Formally, this practice has been discontinued in 2012, but according to unofficial data, it lasted until the end of 2014.

Aleksey Topalov

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