Belarus intends to diversify gas imports to cut dependence on Russia

Belarus is planning to diversify its gas imports by participating in gas extraction projects abroad and purchasing liquefied natural gas (LNG) in a bid to reduce its dependence on Russian gas supplies.

Belarus's new energy development strategy is published on the national legal Internet portal.

"Diversification of gas imports will be continued through Belarusian organizations' involvement in gas exploration and extraction abroad, as well as through liquefied natural gas supplies... including via Ukraine," the document said.

The energy development strategy stipulates that Belarus may participate in the construction of liquefied natural gas terminals in Lithuania and Poland and import LNG from these countries.

In July, Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said the country's authorities were planning to construct an LNG terminal at the Klaipados nafta oil terminal in the Baltic Sea port of Klaipeda. He said Belarus's proposal to construct the facility was being considered among others.

If Belarus's plans on LNG terminal construction are realized, LNG supplies to the country may reach 10 billion cubic meters a year, which would "considerably reduce [Belarus's] dependence on natural gas supplies from Russia," the document said.

Belarus is not counting on direct gas supplies from Central Asia, where the lion's share of gas exports belong to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

"In a medium-term perspective, given [Russian energy giant] Gazprom's existing long-term contracts on the purchase of almost all Central Asian gas intended for export, as well as the absence of independent [gas] transporting infrastructure, direct gas supplies to Belarus [from Central Asia] does not seem possible," the document said.

Central Asian gas is pumped to Russia and Ukraine via the Central Asia-Center pipeline network built in Soviet times.

Meanwhile, Central Asia is named among the most promising future suppliers of alternative energy sources to Belarus, along with the Caspian, South American and Persian Gulf regions.

In line with the new strategy, Belarus is also planning to consider the diversification of its electricity and oil supplies.

The country also intends to consider the possibilities of joining EU projects intended to diversify energy source supplies to Europe.

A major EU-backed energy project is the 3,300-kilometer Nabucco pipeline designed to transfer natural gas from the Caspian region through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Austria, bypassing Russia. The pipeline is to pump 20-30 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

MINSK, August 25 (RIA Novosti)


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