Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that the damage caused to Belarusian companies by the “dirty” Russian oil in the Druzhba pipeline runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, BelTA reports.
“Journalists frequently mention this figure, and they are not far from the truth,” Lukashenko commented.
The president explained that the assessment of the damage takes into account several factors. “The damage caused to the oil pipeline, the equipment itself in the pipeline – the pumps and stations and everything else, and the oil refineries, is huge. Two oil refineries, especially the Mozyr refinery, to a greater extent than the Novopolotsk, were contaminated. And the damage done to the country was huge. I’m not even talking about the fact that the Novopolotsk refinery was operating at half capacity, the Mozyr suspended, and then operated at one third. We lost out on profit, foreign currency earnings, transit – we lost huge money,” Lukashenko explained.
He said that the damage was so serious because the contaminated oil caused intense corrosion: “In a week, even the pipe through which the oil is pumped is corroded by 4-5 mm, according to the experts.”
The Belarusian president said that the crisis was precipitated by “slackness” in Russia. However, Lukashenko is confident that Russian President Vladimir Putin “understands that the damage must be compensated”. He added that the exact damage amount would be determined after an inspection of the oil refineries.
The Russian Energy Ministry declined to comment on Lukashenko’s statements.
The Belarusian state-owned oil concern Belneftekhim announced on April 19 that there had been a sharp deterioration in the quality of oil arriving from Russia through the Druzhba pipeline. The oil was found to have a concentration of organochlorine compounds “ten times higher than the limit”. As a result, several countries, including Belarus, suspended the transit and processing of Russian oil. On 3 April, Sergey Grib, deputy head of the Belarusian Oil Company (BNK), announced that the company had suspended its exports of petrol and other light oil products (diesel fuel, aviation kerosene, etc.).