Putin wants Belarusian petroleum products to be shipped via Russian ports

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday suggested requiring the Belarusian oil refineries to supply petroleum products to customers abroad through Russian seaports.

Photo by pixabay.com

"That should be discussed in a wider format," Mr. Putin told government officials at a meeting in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, according to Russian news agencies. He said that the Belarusian oil refineries received exclusively Russian crude and would hardly ever get oil from other countries.

Oleg Belozyorov, chief of Russian Railways, told Mr. Putin that the Belarusian refineries opted to ship petroleum products through Baltic seaports despite a 50-percent discount offered by the Russian rail operator. "The Belarusian refineries have not used either Ust-Luga or Saint Petersburg so far, they move their goods through Baltic republics," he was quoted as saying. "We are in discussions, they say that they have signed long-term contracts on the subject."

Mr. Putin suggested that Russian seaports offer competitive terms to attract shipments from Belarus. "These are not some political decisions," he said. "We should simply utilize our own capacity, create a tax base here, we should secure jobs here in Russia, not in some other place."

Mr. Putin added that the terms offered by Russian seaports to Belarusian exporters should be no worse than those provided by seaports in Baltic states.

In October 2016, Russian Railways offered a 25-percent discount on the transportation of gasoline, diesel fuel and black oil from Belarus to seaports in northwestern Russia.

The discount was raised to 50 percent this past March and will remain in effect until the end of 2018.

Belarus currently exports motor fuel and other petroleum products only via Latvia's Ventspils seaport and Lithuania's Klaipeda.