Theoretically, Belarus can replace Russian oil but that replacement will not be profitable, Russia experts told EADaily on Jan 20.
According to Sergey Agibalov, Head of Sector at Economic Department of the Institute for Energy and Finance, there is no alternative to Russian oil. “The Belarusians can find some alternative - for example, they can start buying Azerbaijani oil again - but the only profitable scenario for them is duty-free Russian oil. As regards alternative oil, no matter who the supplier, the Belarusian can get it in tankers only. So, its refining will give them no profit,” Agibalov said.
According to him, Alexander Lukashenko’s statement about plans to replace Russian oil is just populism.
“Unless the Belarusians modernize their oil refineries, they will not be able to replace Russian oil and all such attempts would be just expensive experiments,” Agibalov said.
Head of the Analytical Department of the National Energy Security Fund Alexander Pasechnik noted that the Belarusians have already made several attempts to replace Russian oil. “They have imported oil from Venezuela and Azerbaijan. But both experiments were unsuccessful. So, the best way for them is to settle their dispute with us. We are ready to supply them with as much oil as they need. The problem is that the Belarusians are not paying for our gas and we were forced to take measures,” Pasechnik said.
“Oil is one of the key sectors in Belarus and it is natural that the Belarusians are looking for more oil suppliers. But this is not an obstacle to their talks with us, is it?” Pasechnik said.
As EADaily reported earlier, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko instructed his subordinates to find alternative to Russian oil. “This is not a disaster but we should find alternatives to reduced Russian oil supplies. We have already tried some of them. We imported oil from the Black Sea and the Mediterranean so as to see if that could be economically possible,” Lukashenko said.
Russia has reduced its oil supplies to Belarus in response to Lukashenko’s refusal to continue paying the contract price for Russian gas.