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    Belarus to buy less Russian oil and gas in 2011 says Lukashenko

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    Belarus will cut its oil supplies from Russia will next year and look for alternative sources of gas, President Alexander Lukashenko was quoted as saying on Friday.

    Belarus will cut its oil supplies from Russia will next year and look for alternative sources of gas, President Alexander Lukashenko was quoted as saying on Friday.

    "We are likely to get less than half of oil (we need) from Russia. The rest from the world markets," Lukashenko told German media in an interview.

    He said Belarus had signed a deal with Venezuela, under which it would get no less than 30 million tons of oil in the next three years.

    Belarus is also seeking alternative gas supplies, holding talks with Poland and the Baltic states to build gas vaporization terminals, Lukashenko said.

    Russian gas giant Gazprom earned more money on deliveries to Belarus than to Germany, Lukashenko claimed.

    "Gazprom's high gas prices forced Europe to seek alternative suppliers, Qatar and Norway, as well as replacing natural gas with shale gas, for example," Lukashenko said.

    "I am stressing that Russia should think about the fact that it is rapidly losing its markets. Such natural gas consumption, about 25 billion cubic meters of gas per year in the next five years, is a good market for Russia," he said referring to the Belarusian market.

    In 2011, Russia's gas price for Belarus will increase to $210-220 per 1,000 cubic meters from $185 in 2010, while the average export price for Europe is expected to be about $308.

    Lukashenko said 2010 was a difficult year for Belarus' petrochemical firms after Russia had introduced a 100 percent customs duty on oil.

    "But we handled the situation well. All our refineries are fully loaded now," Lukashenko said.

    MINSK, November 12 (RIA Novosti) 

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