Latvian ports' chances to get transit of Venezuelan oil to Belarus are diminishing

Alla Petrova, BC, Riga,

Hopes are fading of securing the transit of Venezuelan oil to Belarus through the Latvian ports of Riga and Ventspils, reports the "Bizness&Baltija" newspaper. Belarus has reached agreement with Ukraine over the transporting of eight million tons of oil through the Odessa-Brody pipeline.

The agreement, which has been signed by the energy ministers of the two countries, will see 80,000 tons transported already this month, informs LETA.

Until now, oil from Venezuela has been transported to Belarus via tanker to the ports of Ukraine, Lithuania and Estonia, and then onward to Belarusian refineries by rail.

Use of the Odessa-Brody pipeline will save Belarus USD 25-30 on each ton of oil. Moreover, Ukraine has promised a 20-40% discount in docking tariffs.

In October, the Belarusian Oil Company and the concern Petroleum of Venezuela signed a contract foreseeing the delivery of ten million tons of oil a year from 2011 to 2013.

Andris Maldups, head of the Transit Policy Department at the Latvian Transport Ministry, told the newspaper that he doubts that Latvia's ports would agree to handle small oil shipments to Belarus, but that to the best of his knowledge talks are still ongoing between Belarus and the ports of Ventspils and Riga.

Use of the Ventspils-Polotsk pipeline, which can handle 15-16 million tons a year, would require the construction of a new pumping station in Ventspils. This would require investments, and Latvia would in turn require guarantees over transit volumes before making such investments.

The newspaper also notes that verbal agreement has been reached between Belarus and Lithuania over the transit of 2.5 million tons a year through the port of Klaipeda; however, the process is being held up by the Lithuanian side's request for guarantees.


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