Oil duties raised
Belarus increased export duties on oil and oil products exported outside the Customs Union territory. This decision of the Council of Ministers of 19 April 2011 № 557 came into force on 1 May.
Export duty on petrol went up to USD 408 per tonne, or 90% of the oil duty replacing the recent 67%, the growth on remaining fuel oil and oil products is not that significant.
Belarus was forced to raise export duty rates on petroleum products following Russia. The latter used such measures to saturate the domestic market with petrol.
In these new circumstances export of petrol by Belarusian refineries becomes unprofitable, and given the high proportion of loss-making sales of petroleum products on the domestic market jeopardizes the profitability of Belarusian oil refining as a whole.
Therefore, refineries asked the government to revoke the binding obligatory sale of 30% of foreign currency earnings. Refineries refer to the difficult financial situation and losses in the first quarter, as a result of: 1. growing world oil prices, 2. changes of conditions for importers of Russian oil (oil price this year includes high rewards for Russian oil barons,) 3. lagging growth of export prices for petroleum products from the raw materials prices, 4. growing consumption of fuel at the domestic market, 5. the need to purchase the entire volume of oil with the shortage of currency to pay for it. It is unlikely that the request of the refineries will be met.
However, the main item of the Belarusian petroleum products export is diesel fuel (40%) and residual fuel (40%) rather than petrol (20%), this casts doubt on the apocalyptic threats by some analysts, in particular the Financial News Agency, which is close to the Russian oil companies. It is obvious that Russian oil companies would be interested in re-exporting petrol from the Belarusian oil refineries to Russia, however so far Belarusian refineries do not consider this option.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.