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Belarus to charge Russia for land under pipelines from August

Belarus will charge Russia for the land underneath oil and gas pipelines that carry Russian fuel to Europe, seeking to compensate for Russia's decision to double the price of the gas it sells to its former Soviet partner.

„Nobody pays for land leasing now,” Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said in a decree released on his Web site. „This money will be additional revenue for the state budget.” The leasing agreement must be signed by August, according to the decree. Russia will have to pay $5 million a year for the land, the Unian news agency reported. Pavel Legkiy, Lukashenko's spokesman, declined to say what would happen if Russia refused to pay or disclose whether Belarus had discussed the leasing agreement with the Russian government.

The government press service and State Property Fund also refused to comment when reached by Bloomberg. Belarus depends on Russia and other former Soviet Union countries for its energy supplies. It agreed to pay $100 per 1,000 cubic meters of Russian natural gas this year, more than double the $45 it paid before. Belarus wants to raise at least $3.5 billion this year by increasing oil transportation and other tariffs, Lukashenko said on January 23.
Russia, the world's largest gas and second-biggest oil exporter, ships about 75 million metric tons of crude oil a year, or about a third of Russia's overall crude exports, through the Belarusian pipeline, Lukashenko said on January 3. (Bloomberg)