Belarus hopes that Russian oil companies, which halted their supplies to Minsk over disagreement on prices, will resume deliveries no later than January 20, Marina Kostyuchenko, a spokeswoman for state-controlled petrochemicals company Belneftekhim said on Wednesday.
"We are currently holding talks with oil suppliers and supply contracts are being signed," Kostyuchenko said.
When asked whether the negotiations were expected to be finished before January 20, Kostyuchenko said: "We hope it will happen earlier".
Russia introduced duties on crude oil exports to Belarus in 2010 to prevent the ex-Soviet state from making profits by re-exporting Russian oil products to the EU.
Under a Russian-Belarusian deal on a common economic space, signed in early December 2010, Russia agreed to scrap the tariffs from January 1 on condition that Minsk returned to Russia all duties received from selling refined oil.
The agreement was ratified by the Belarusian parliament on December 21-22, but Moscow's ambassador to Minsk accused Belarus of dragging its feet on the contract a day later. Belneftekhim then said it had expected the deal to be initialized after the New Year holidays, which ended on January 11.
Expected 2011 oil supplies to Belarus are to amount to 21.7 million metric tons.
MINSK, January 12 (RIA Novosti)