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UPDATE 1-Belarus gets new Russia proposal on oil supplies - Lukashenko

Fri 21st February, 2020 10:30am
(Adds details, quotes, context)
    MINSK, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Belarus said Russia has proposed
compensating the country for the cost of tax changes relating to
Russian oil supplies in 2019, signalling potential progress in a
two-month row between the two countries.
    Minsk and Moscow have been at loggerheads since January 1,
when they failed to agree on oil delivery terms for 2020 and
major Russian oil companies suspended pipeline oil supplies to
Belarus.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2AE4SW
    Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said the compensation
could amount to $300 million, after he spoke by telephone with
Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. He also said Moscow was 
ready to keep oil supply terms for 2020 the same as in 2019.
    "It was an unexpected proposal," Lukashenko said when
meeting one of Russia's regional officials in Minsk. He did not
provide further details.
    The Kremlin said the presidents of the two countries had
discussed cooperation in the energy sector, among other
bilateral issues. 
    Russia and Belarus have not reached any firm agreement on
the terms of oil supplies to Belarus, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry
Peskov told reporters on a conference call.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nR4N2AH01L
    Moscow had been supplying crude oil and oil products to
Minsk with no export fee under a duty-free deal between Russia,
Belarus and Kazakhstan. But it amended its tax code in 2019 to
halt that arrangement. 
    The Russian tax changes cost Belarus $330 million in 2019,
Belarus said this month. The country's state budget lost $130
million, while Belarusian oil refineries lost $200 million.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nR4N29Z01Z
    Safmar Group companies, Russneft  RNFT.MM  and Neftisa, are
currently the only suppliers of Russian oil to Belarus, forcing
Minsk to look for crude from other countries.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2AK6WB

 (Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; Writing by Anastasia
Teterevleva and Polina Devitt; Editing by Jan Harvey and Jane
Merriman)
 ((anastasia.teterevleva@thomsonreuters.com; +7 495 775 12 42))
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