Russian diesel transits resume via Belarus after suspension

MOSCOW, July 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Latvia-bound oil product supplies via Belarus, suspended by Minsk last week, resumed on Thursday, the state-run transit company Transnefteprodukt said.

Minsk suspended the Belarusian section of the Unecha-Ventspils oil product pipeline, citing its unsatisfactory technical condition. The move was seen as response to Russia's ban on meat supplies from two Belarusian producers over health concerns, the claim Minsk has denied.

"Pumping facilities were activated at 6 p.m. [Moscow time]... 1,000 ppm of diesel fuel is currently being transported," the company said.

Russia's government earlier said the diesel pipeline could resume operation on August 5. But Belarusian officials said after talks with the pipeline operator that transits could resume late on Thursday.

Belarus's senior industry safety official, Viktor Borovsky, said an agreement had been reached with the Russian owners that the most dangerous defects would be repaired promptly with the others before the end of the year.

Belarus earlier said the pipeline's further operation could have led to accidents and damage to the environment.

Latvian businesses said the suspension of the pipeline would cause them serious losses, and suggested it was a political decision.

Belarus, long Russia's closest ally, has recently clashed with Moscow over natural gas prices, ownership of gas networks and dairy exports.



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