OAO Transneft, Russia's oil pipeline monopoly, is planning to bypass neighboring Belarus by building a new pipeline to the Baltic port of Primorsk.
„Of course this is very, very expensive,” OAO Transneft President Semyon Vainshtok said on state television yesterday. „If we didn't have such risks from neighboring states, it wouldn't be necessary to spend so much money.”
Transneft cut supplies to Belarus for three days last month after Russia's western neighbor demanded a transit fee for crude, causing shortfalls to refineries across central Europe.
Interfax reported yesterday that Belarus is planning to raise fees by 35% to $3.50 per ton starting February 15 for shipments through the Druzhba, or „friendship,” pipeline. On February 12, Transneft will begin plotting out the route from the Belarusian border to Primorsk, Russia's largest oil port, Vainshtok said. The new pipeline will have to be able to pump 50 million tons of crude annually, or about two-thirds of Primorsk's current capacity.
Transneft depends on the Druzhba pipeline for about a third of its export capacity. In December, it moved an average of 190,500 tons of oil per day through the pipeline, which links Siberian oil fields to Europe. (Bloomberg)