Home Investing News Exclusive-Russia increases gasoline imports from Belarus as domestic supplies shrink

Exclusive-Russia increases gasoline imports from Belarus as domestic supplies shrink


MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has increased gasoline imports from neighbouring Belarus in March to tackle the risk of shortages in its domestic market because of unscheduled repairs at Russian refineries after drone attacks, four industry and trade sources said on Wednesday.

Usually Russia is a net exporter of fuel and a supplier to international markets, but the disruption of Russian refining has forced oil companies to import.

Already Russia banned gasoline exports from March 1 to try to secure enough fuel for its domestic market after repeated Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian refineries since the start of the year.

Russia normally imports very little fuel from Belarus, although it turned to it last August-to-October, when it faced fuel shortages that led to a rapid rise in gasoline prices and prompted another oil product export ban.

This year, Russia has again increased gasoline imports from Belarus, and in the first half of March they reached almost 3,000 metric tons, Reuters sources familiar with the statistics said.

In February, Russia imported 590 tons, while in January, there were no shipments from Belarus.

Two industry sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly, said discussions on further imports were taking place between governments and oil companies.

One of them said the talks were difficult as Belarus prioritises exports of its fuel to international markets.

How much will be required by Russia will depend on the timing of refinery repairs, another of the sources said.

Russian oil companies can increase oil supplies to Belarusian refineries in return for extra petroleum products for supply to Russia, the industry sources said.

Belarus generally exports its oil products via Russian Baltic ports to international markets under long-term transit agreements between the states.

Belarus has two oil refineries – the Naftan oil refinery in Novopolotsk and the Mozyr oil refinery.

Each has a capacity of 12 million tons per year (some 240,000 barrels per day), but they typically run at lower capacity, each refining about 9 million tons per year (some 180,000 barrels per day).

It is unclear how much Belarus can increase production and industry sources have said there are technical bottlenecks.

Russia’s Energy ministry and Belarus’s state oil company Belneftekhim, which operates both of the republic’s refineries, did not answer requests for comment.

Neither did Russia’s Rosneft, Lukoil, Tatneft and Gazpromneft, all major oil suppliers to Belarus and operators of gas stations in the republic.

The refineries in Belarus use mostly Russian oil as a feedstock, while Russian oil companies, which have Belarusian subsidiaries, also buy gasoline from the refineries to supply their Belarusian fuel stations.

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