MINSK, November 25 (Itar-Tass) -- The first trial shipment of oil has been successfully transported by the Odessa-Brody pipeline to the Mozyr refinery in Belarus.
"The direct transportation of oil by the Odessa-Brody pipeline to the Mozyr refinery via the Druzhba trunk pipeline, started on November 20, was successfully finished at around midnight Tuesday," Belneftekhim spokeswoman Marina Kostyuchenko told Itar-Tass.
She said that no problems had arisen with the transportation of Russian oil to Western consumers during this period. "The pipelines were not used to their maximum capacity. The concerns expressed to this effect by some foreign specialists proved wrong," she added.
The pipeline transported 24,000 tonnes of oil daily during the trial run. The Mozyr-Brody-2 pipeline transported oil to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic at the same time at a rate of around 50,500 tonnes.
Gomeltransneft Deruzhba Director-General Sergei Sosnovsky said his company would be able to transport up to 16 million tonnes of oil a year after some minor upgrading. It can also transport oil by the Mozyr-Brody-2 pipeline to Central Europe (Hyngary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) in parallel in the amount of 17-19 million tonnes a year.
"I can say with confidence that our system has a certain margin of safety, especially since the Mozyr-Brody-2 pipeline operated at a rate of 17.5 million tonnes a year," Sosnovsky said.
The first trial batch carries 80,000 tonnes of Russian Urals blend oil purchased from Venezuela and delivered to Belarus on swap terms. "This is the optimal supply pattern. We are working on it with different oil companies but since it is still in the making, I can't say anything specific," First Vice Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said earlier.
In late October, a contract was signed in Minsk for a trial shipment of oil by the Odessa-Brody pipeline in the direct mode. Also a contract was signed for the transportation of oil by the pipeline in the same mode in 2011-2013 and on oil supplies to Belarus on swap terms.
According to different sources, Belarus does not rule out swap oil supplies from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Iran.
Semashko said that Belarus would buy four million tonnes of oil from Venezuela this year. "We have loaded oil refineries to full capacity from different sources, with Venezuelan oil accounting for a great deal of these supplies. Up to date, 2.5 million tonnes have already been supplied, and the volume will reach four million tonnes by the end of the years," he said.
According to Semashko, oil will be delivered by railways and pipelines. The government plans to use seaports in Ukraine and Estonia to this end, as well as in Lithuania and Latvia.
In 2011-2013, Belarus plans to buy up to 10 million tonnes of oil in Venezuela annually.
Belarus and Venezuela signed a contract for Venezuelan oil supplies up to 2013.
The contract was signed by and between the Belarusian Oil Company and Petroleos de Venezuela for the supply of oil in 2011-2013.
In addition to five deposits currently being developed jointly in Venezuela, another two oilfields will be added to increase oil production from 820,000 tonnes to 1.2 million tonnes a year.
Belarus and Venezuela will complete the creation of a joint venture for oil supplies from this Latin American country by June 30, 2010.
Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky said the implementation of the project was proceeding as scheduled.
At the initial stage, about four million tonnes of oil will be supplied to Belarus from Venezuela.
According to Sidorsky, Venezuelan oil has low sulphur content, which will guarantee a big output of light petroleum products. "We will export the end products together with our Venezuelan partners," the prime minister said.
During Lukashenko's recent visit to Caracas, Venezuela and Belarus signed more than 20 joint documents on further development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Standing out among them is a contract specifying the terms of supplying 80,000 barrels Venezuelan oil to Belarus, under which it will be transported via the seaport of Odessa. After processing at Belarusian oil refineries, petrol products will be sold in Europe.
"We are beginning with 80,000 barrels of oil, but we will raise it 100,000 barrels and more in the future in order to provide Belarus with everything it needs," Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said at the signing ceremony.
The Odessa-Brody pipeline is currently operating in the reverse mode in the direction of Black Sea ports. The pipeline carries around 105 million barrels of oil per year.
The Odessa-Brody pipeline is a crude oil pipeline between the Ukrainian cities Odessa on the Black Sea and Brody near the Ukrainian-Polish border. There are plans to expand the pipeline to Plock, and furthermore to Gdansk in Poland. The pipeline is operated by UkrTransNafta, Ukraine's state-owned oil pipeline company.
The usage and direction of Odessa-Brody pipeline is considered to be of considerable geopolitical significance and has been the subject of both political disagreement and international pressure. The pipeline was originally intended to reach Gdansk in order to transfer oil from the Caspian Sea (mainly from Kazakhstan) to the Polish Baltic Sea port and from there to the rest of Europe.