Russia, Belarus end oil supply talks with no agreement

13:10, January 10, 2010      

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A Belarusian delegation led by First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko has left Moscow after Russia and Belarus failed to reach agreement over the oil supply issue on Saturday, Russian media reported.

"The Belarusian and Russian delegations again failed to each compromise on the issues under discussion and come to signing relevant agreements at the latest round of talks on the terms of oil deliveries from Russia to Belarus held in Moscow on Jan. 9," the Interfax news agency reported, citing press service of the Belarusian government.

According to the press service, "the Russian side actually ignored the arguments stated by the Belarusian side as well as the calculations."

Nonetheless both delegations "expressed readiness to continue talks."

Belarus buys about 20 million metric tons of Russian oil a year, but consumes only about one quarter of that. The rest is processed and exported to the West.

Belarus enjoyed significant discounts on Russian oil imports in2009, and is seeking a similar deal this year. The two sides, however, failed to clinch a deal for 2010 before the end of 2009.

Minsk insists that Moscow supply duty-free oil not only for Belarus' domestic consumption but also for all Russian crude supplied to the country.

A Russian expert familiar with the situation was quoted by news agencies on Saturday as saying that Russia would deliver 6.3 million tons of duty-free oil and thus spare Belarus 1.8 billion U.S. dollars given the duty rate of 267 dollars.

He said Russia still adhered to the offer to "deliver oil duty-free on a scale required for domestic consumption minus the oil produced by Belarus itself."

Source: Xinhua
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