Ukraine expects to sign an intergovernmental agreement with Belarus on the transit of Venezuelan oil by the end of this week, Ukraine's fuel and energy ministry said on Thursday.
Minsk and Caracas agreed on the supplies of Venezuelan oil to Belarus in March, shortly after a brief dispute over oil supplies with Russia. Venezuelan oil is delivered by tankers to the Ukrainian port of Odessa and is transported by railroad through Ukraine to Belarus.
"The Belarusian side expressed interest in further cooperation concerning oil supplies to Belarusian oil refineries through the Ukrainian oil transportation and railroad systems of Ukraine and Belarus," the ministry said.
Moscow demanded Minsk pay full import duties on crude it refines and transits to Europe, dropping considerable subsidies. Belarus requested Russia to supply up to 30 million metric tons of oil duty free, saying it would otherwise increase transit fees for Europe-bound oil from $3.90 to $45.
Some experts believe that importing Venezuelan oil to Belarus is economically unsound, but the Belarusian government insists that the project is cost-effective.
Belarus, which has little hydrocarbon resources and depends on fuel supplies from Russia, plans to buy 4 million metric tons of Venezuelan oil in 2010 and 10 million metric tons in 2011.
The first delivery of 4,400 metric tons (32,000 barrels) of crude were delivered by railway to the Mozyr refinery in Belarus in early May.
KIEV, July 8 (RIA Novosti)