Rosneft president Igor Sechin has pledged to fully supply Belarus with oil, despite Russian government threats to reduce supplies over the so-called 'potash war' between Russia and Belarus.
After Uralkali Vladislav Baumgertner CEO was arrested in Minsk,
rapport with Moscow and its old soviet republic quickly soured. Following the arrest, Russian state
pipeline group Transneft said it would reduce oil supplies to
Belarus by 25 percent in September while fixing the Druzba
However, during Sechin's trip to Minsk on Wednesday, the Rosneft
head confirmed the company would fulfill its obligations to
supply oil to Belarus refineries.
"Cooperation with Belarus is a priority, and Rosneft will not
alter its oil supplies", Sechin said.
Rosneft is likely to end up being the exclusive oil supplier to Belarus, says Kommersant, citing inside sources confirming Sechin wants to be the ‘special importer’ to Belarus. One source said starting next year, Rosneft could be the country’s single exporter and deliver 23 million tons of crude oil.
President Alexander Lukashenko said he would instruct government
officials to work out an exclusive oil deal between Rosneft and
Rosneft is one of 8 Russian companies that supplies energy to
Belarus, but Rosneft is by far the largest, and Sechin has
publicly said his company would ‘suffer the most’ if Transneft
cut off supplies to Belarus.
Crude oil was cut off in January 2011 over a price dispute, and
in 2007 after Moscow accused Belarus of siphoning off oil without
Transneft vice-president Mikhail Barkov told Interfax the reasons for curtailed supplies were routine maintenance, and the need to upgrade a section of the Druzhba pipeline.
Vladislav Baumgertner was arrested on August 26 at Minsk airport
shortly after talks with Belarus Prime Minister Mikhail
Myasnikovich, who had invited him to the country. The Uralkali
CEO was charged with “abusive exercise of power and abuse of
office” and causing grave damage to the public interests of
Belarus, as well as damage to the Belarusian Potash Company, and
is being held in a KGB jail in Minsk. Under Belarusian law,
Baumgertner could face up to 10 years behind bars and his assets
and property could be confiscated.
The Belarus Investigative Committee has also issued an arrest
warrant for major Uralkali shareholder Suleyman Kerimov for 'abusing power' which
led to the break-up of the Belarusian-Russian potash cartel.