Belarus has enough oil to last until late Jan. - paper

Belarusian oil refineries have enough crude oil to operate until late January following the latest suspension of supplies by Russian companies, the Vedomosti business daily said on Wednesday.

Russia introduced duties on crude oil exports to Belarus in 2010 to prevent its ex-Soviet neighbor from making profits by re-exporting Russian oil products to the EU.

Under a Russian-Belarusian deal on a common economic space, signed in early December 2010, Russia agreed to scrap tariffs on crude oil supplies to Belarus from January 1 on condition that Belarus returned to Russia all duties received from selling on refined oil.

The agreement was ratified by the Belarusian parliament on December 21-22, but Moscow's ambassador to Minsk accused Belarus of dragging its feet on the contract a day later. Belarus's state-controlled petrochemicals company Belneftekhim then said it had expected the deal to be initialized after the New Year holidays, which ended on January 11.

But negotiations on the deal are still ongoing with prices being the main sticking point, Belneftekhim spokeswoman Marina Kostyuchenko told Vedomosti on Wednesday.

Kostyuchenko said she had no idea when the treaty would be initialized, but added that the transit of Russian oil to Europe would continue under the normal regime.

Russia is expected to supply 21.7 million metric tons of crude oil to Belarus in 2011. Top Russian officials estimate that the common economic space deal, if it comes into force, will result in Russia losing $5.3 billion and Belarus saving $3.9 billion.

MOSCOW, January 12 (RIA Novosti)


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