Belarus receives first oil shipment from Saudi Arabia

Belarusian oil refinery OAO Naftan will today receive 87,000 tonnes of oil from Saudi Aramco, marking the first time that

Oil tanker from Norway another of Belarus trade partners

Photo: AP Photo/Vita Jureviciene

Belarusian oil refinery OAO Naftan will today receive 87,000 tonnes of oil from Saudi Aramco, marking the first time that Minsk has purchased crude from Riyadh.

The tanker carrying Arab Light crude oil docked in the Lithuanian port of Klaipedia on May 12, after which the shipment was unloaded and moved to Belarus by rail.

Belarus has also purchased oil from Norway, Azerbaijan and the US this year as part of an ongoing government effort to diversify the energy supply beyond Russia. The diversification effort indicates a further souring in energy relationship between the two states, after President Alexander Lukashenko’s January announcement that Belarus would cut Russian oil supplies to 30-40% of domestic market needs.

The Kremlin still holds significant economic leverage over Minsk that it can employ to re-nurture the latter’s energy dependence. Belarus has long relied on Russia for supplies of cut-rate natural gas and oil, and it has seen its already fragile economy contract significantly in the past year. As Russia hopes to further integration with Belarus, Minsk’s newfound cooperation with powers like the US may, in the short-to-medium term, prompt Moscow to reconsider its refusal to lower oil prices.

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