Belarus restricts exports of petroleum products

Belarus is introducing restrictions on exports of light petroleum products following the supply of low-quality oil from Russia, Deputy Prime Minister Ihar Lyashenka said on Sunday.

According to Mr. Lyashenka, restrictions will be in place for the duration of this spring`s sowing campaign.

The primary concern now is to meet the domestic demand, he said.

A delegation of the Belarusian State Petrochemical Industry Concern (Belnaftakhim) will go to Russia on April 23 to hold talks with representatives of Transneft.

“We do not doubt the Russian company’s professionalism,” Mr. Lyashenka said. “I spoke to Transneft’s senior executives and they reassured me that they are taking all the necessary measures to withdraw crude oil containing elevated levels of chloride and pump in hydrocarbons of better quality.”

According to Mr. Lyashenka, the Russian supplier promised that the situation will stabilize soon.

On April 19, Belnaftakhim announced that low-quality oil had been coming from Russia through the Druzhba (Friendship) oil pipeline for a few days.

They said that the oil contained elevated levels of chloride and warned that the substance causes corrosion and may damage heat exchange equipment and catalyst systems.

“Given the equipment’s uniqueness, it will take at least six months to repair it,” Belnaftakhim head Andrey Rybakow told reporters. “In terms of value, repairs will cost at least several dozen million dollars, if not several hundred million dollars.”

Mazyr Oil Refinery in the Homyel region was the first to receive low-quality Russian oil. It was expected to reach the Naftan oil refinery, Belarus’ other oil refinery located in Navapolatsk, Vitsyebsk region, on the night between April 21 and 22.

On Monday, a Belnaftakhim spokesperson told BelaPAN that low-quality oil from Russia made expensive equipment at Mazyr Oil Refinery break down on April 20.

The refinery’s press office said that the equipment had been damaged by corrosion.

It pointed out that the refinery continued to produce products meeting international standards of quality despite its problems.

According to the Belnaftakhim spokesperson, there is over 700,000 metric tons of “dirty” oil in the Belarusian section of the Druzhba oil pipeline.

“We are taking all the necessary measures to supply enough gasoline and diesel fuel to the domestic market,” the spokesperson said. “Exports of petroleum products have been temporarily restricted.”