BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 22
By Huseyn Safarov - Trend:
Talks on Azerbaijani oil supplies to Belarus have real grounds, Director General of Prospects for Integration Research Center Sergey Rekeda told Trend.
The political analyst said that Belarus is unhappy with the conditions on which it receives Russian oil and insists on new conditions that the Russian side isn’t ready to support.
As a result, negotiations are stalled and therefore, Minsk has begun searching for new oil suppliers, including Azerbaijan, the director general noted.
“Such actions by Belarus are not new; Minsk has already tried to buy oil in both Venezuela and Azerbaijan, but these purchases have never become an alternative to Russian oil,” Rekeda added. “Usually such purchases are made on a one-off basis. In fact, only one tanker is sent, and that’s all. The issue of alternative supplies is constantly the issue of price, which, given the complex logistics, is becoming significantly bigger than the Russian one.”
Rekeda believes that the current oil disputes between Minsk and Moscow take place with higher probability of conflict (at least in the public space) and one can often hear from the Belarusian expert community that Belarus is ready to switch to more expensive oil this time.
“Such an approach may undermine the profitability of Belarusian oil refineries, so it’s not worth expecting complete reorientation of Belarus to Azerbaijani oil,” the political analyst said. “If Minsk and Baku agree on some volumes of regular oil purchases, I think that Moscow will treat this with understanding and respect, just like the position of partner countries.”
In turn, the Belarusian political analyst Alexei Dzermant believes that this is quite a real process, as the requests of the Belarusian side were officially sent and negotiations between Belarus and Azerbaijan on this issue are underway.
“However, so far we don’t know whether it will be possible to agree on the price,” Dzermant said. “Still, there is a problem with the delivery of oil. It is important, first of all, to understand how profitable it is in terms of the price.”
The Belarusian political analyst noted that Russia hasn’t yet reacted to Belarus’ search for alternative sources of oil.
“Officials say that they won’t be opposed to this, but if Belarus finds something, then Moscow may offer a lower price, because Minsk is an important buyer of oil for it. However, this isn’t yet known,” Dzermant added.