Belarus Raises Oil Transit Tariffs, Russia Threatens Sanctions


Belarus Economy Ministry announced on Monday that starting on Feb. 15, 2007, oil transit fees through its pipeline system will be raised dramatically. Current transit tariffs charged by Belarus were agreed upon back in December 1995. They equal to $0.41-0.6 per ton of Russian oil per 100 kilometers.

The new tariffs, announced by the Belarusian authorities will equal to $1.29-3.5 per ton per 100 kilometers plus VAT.

MosNews has reported that after Russian gas monopoly Gazprom increased the price of natural gas sold to Belarus, Belarusian authorities tried to impose a new transit tax on Russian oil deliveries bound for Europe. The move even forced Russia to stop oil deliveries through Belarus for several days, prompting criticism from the European customers. A compromise was reached, but Belarusian authorities do not lose hope to recoup the losses from Gazprom's gas price hike by charging Russian oil companies extra.

Meanwhile the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that sanctions should be used by members of the European Energy Charter against states that create difficult conditions for transit of Russian energy resources to Europe. "Today we can see that some transit countries with membership in the Energy Charter create hurdles for transit of energy resources, therefore participants of this agreement can use sanctions in order to discipline the relevant countries," Lavrov was quoted by RIA Novosti speaking at a briefing after a meeting with EU "troika".

The European Energy Charter was created as a mechanism of cooperation in energy issues between Western and Eastern Europe. It was signed in The Hague on Dec. 17, 1991. Russia has signed but did not ratify the charter and insists that it has to be re-worked.