In the dispute with the EU, Belarus wants to export petrol...

In the dispute with the EU, Belarus wants to export petrol...
In the dispute with the EU, Belarus wants to export petrol...

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Belarus plans to transport at least one load of gasoline via the Russian Baltic Sea port of Ust-Luga in October, four industry experts said. A route was used that was last used almost three years ago and ports in EU countries were avoided.

The move follows a growing dispute with the EU. European foreign ministers agreed this week to impose sanctions on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and other officials during an August 9 election that the West said was rigged.

The Belarusian oil company will ship 37,000 tons of gasoline from its Mozyr refinery via the port of Ust-Luga in October. The Vitol trading company was the buyer.

“This shipment is a test shipment,” said one trader, adding that it was not clear whether other Belarusian shipments would follow.

It is being sent via the Russian port for the first time since January 2018.

Vitol declined to comment. The Belarusian oil company and terminal operator JSC Portenergo from Ust-Luga did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

Belarus normally exports gasoline from its refineries in Mozyr and Novopolotsk via the Lithuanian ports of Klaipeda and Ventspils in Latvia, both to EU countries on the Baltic Sea. Some of the fuel is also delivered to Ukraine, which borders on EU countries.

The Belarusian president, who was exposed to weeks of unrest and protests, threatened in August to divert oil products to Russian ports if EU sanctions were imposed and to prevent EU states from using his country as a transit route to Russia.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said last month that Belarus could divert 4 to 6 million tons of oil products through Russian ports.

Belarus and Russia have spoken in recent years of diverting Belarusian oil products through Russian ports, although so far this has not resulted in any long-term postponement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that in 2017 Belarusian products made from Russian oil should be exported through Russian ports.

Belarftekhim of Belarus said in December 2017 it had signed a contract to export 72,000 tons of products through Russian ports, but only 37,000 tons of cargo went that route, traders said.

Reporting by Natalia Chumakova; Letter from Olga Yagova; Arrangement by Edmund Blair

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