World News

Russneft sole supplier of Russian oil to Belarus: sources

LONDON/MOSCOW/MINSK (Reuters) – Russia’s Russneft, co-owned by trader Glencore, is the only Russian supplier delivering oil to Belarus after the start of the new year, allowing the neighbor’s refiners to continue processing modest volumes of crude, three industry sources told Reuters.

Deliveries of oil from Russia had been suspended since Jan. 1 amid a dispute over contract terms between Moscow and Minsk.

Such spats in the past led to disruptions of supplies to Europe which gets 10% of its oil from Russia via transit link in Belarus, known as Druzhba pipeline. Transit along the pipeline has continued uninterrupted so far this year.

Belarus said over the weekend Russia agreed to supply 130,000 tonnes after the new year but did not say who the supplier was.

Belarusian state oil firm Belneftekhim said on Monday that its Naftan refinery has received 26,500 tonnes of oil, adding that it was still working at minimum load.

Three sources told Reuters the only supplier so far was Russneft in which trader Glencore owns 23.46%.

Russneft and Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft <TRNF_p.MM> have not responded to a Reuters request for comment. Glencore declined to comment.

Belarus consumes around 1.5 million tones of Russian oil per month so the volumes supplied by Russneft will be enough only to maintain refining at minimum levels.

Moscow and Minsk have had several oil and gas spats over the past decade in what has been described as a love-hate relationship between president Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko.

Putin and Lukashenko have often toyed with the idea of political integration of the countries but the autocratic Belarusian leader who came to power in 1994 has backtracked repeatedly.

(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov in London, Olesya Astakhova, in Moscow and Andrei Makhovsky in Minsk,; Writing by Andrei Kuzmin, editing by Ed Osmond)