No plans to retaliate Belarus's rise in oil transit tariff - Gref

MOSCOW, February 6 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia has no plans for any retaliatory measures following Belarus's decision to almost triple the tariff charged for transiting Russian crude oil, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref told the media.

"We are studying the rates. If their rise does not go beyond the bounds of routine indexing, I'll say it's normal," Gref said.

He remarked, though, that such measures can be taken only on the basis of a bilateral agreement.

"We should have been warned in advance and negotiations should have been held," Gref said.

The deputy president of Russia's pipeline company Transneft, Sergei Grigoriev, said on Monday Minsk's decision to rise the transit tariff on Russian crude would not make fuel more expensive for European consumers.

Transneft has had no formal notification from Belarus yet the tariffs have been up.

"As soon as we have a document before us, we shall enter into negotiations, notify the oil companies of the changes to transit costs, and conclude contracts anew," he said.

"I believe that the price of oil for European will remain unchanged," Grigoriev said. "Probably, Russian oil producers will have to bear extra costs."

The Belarussian Economics Ministry has said that it is about to drastically raise oil transit tariffs as of February 15, 2007 - to 1.29-3.5 dollars a tonne per 100 kilometers (VAT excluded).

Before the tariffs ranged 0.41-0.6 dollars a tonne per 100 kilometers.

Last year Russia transited through Belarus 78.7 million tonnes of crude (1.2 percent less than in 2005).