Oil Transit Through Belarus Becomes More Expensive by Third

// Transneft prepares a detouring pipeline

Belarus will raise the price on transit of Russia's oil through its territory since February 15. The tariffs, which were the same since 1996, will be raised by almost 30 percent. Considering current amounts of export, it will increase the expenditures of Russian oil companies by $50 million a year. Meanwhile, Transneft head Semen Vainshtok yesterday said that the company's technical council has already approved the construction of a pipeline branch detouring Belarus to Primorsk with the capacity of 50 million metric tons of oil annually.

The Economic Ministry of Belarus decided to change tariffs on oil transit. Transneft has already been notified, said Belarus. However, the company claimed it wasn't notified, adding that tariffs can be changed only upon agreement of parties.

Russian oil companies have not commented on Belarus' decision so far. Yet, experts believe the companies' expenditures will grow insignificantly. Meanwhile, Minsk's imposing extra tariffs for oil and gas transit make it more and more probable that a new export pipeline can be built, detouring Belarus.

Transneft head Semen Vainshtok said that his company decided to build a new branch of pipeline from Russia-Belarus border through Velikie Luki to Primorsk. Experts estimated the cost of building such pipeline at $2-2.5 billion, and said it will help to avoid Minsk's growing appetites.