Belarus may lead the game, but to gain independence from Russia, it will not succeed

Biznes Alert: Belarus and Russia are energy dispute for more than a year. Close Belarusians for having to get his permission?

Anna Dyner (Anna Dyner): to Give a definite answer difficult. Belarusian experts emphasize that in the current situation, when the long negotiations ended in failure, only the two presidents can, perhaps, decide what will happen with agreements. The talks went on for more than a year. In the past year due to the fact that Russia has reduced oil supplies to Belarus, Minsk lost about 1.2 billion euros. It was for the Belarusian budget a serious blow. On the other hand, Belarusians are rigidly defend their position, they want to achieve equal chances for all subjects of economic activities in the Eurasian economic Union. Internal contradictions have found their way into the Treaty on the EAEU: on the one hand he says that all actors should have the same guarantee, for example, the same energy prices to compete with each other, and on the other, it was decided that a single market for gas and energy will appear only in 2024 and 2025. Ideas what to do with it, no. From time to time reports of some agreements, but after it turns out that the agreement did not work.

— You mentioned about the Eurasian economic Union. At the last meeting of the Eurasian intergovernmental Council of the Belarusian Premier Andrei Kobyakov said that the conflict between Minsk and Moscow may have a negative effect on the formation of a common gas market.

— If to speak about the common market as a guarantee of the extension of opportunities for competition, of course, the impact will be negative. Take, for example, two companies, Russian and Belarusian, which produce similar products, but first pay for the energy three times less than the second. Of course, the Belarusian will be uncompetitive. Therefore, the Belarusians emphasize that if business entities do not have equal chances to compete and sell their products, it is not a single market.

— In the context of unresolved energy dispute should be understood that from January 1, Gazprom increased the gas price for Belarus?

— Moscow gives a clear signal that she was going to go to Minsk to make concessions. While the size of the debt for delivered to Belarus gas reached approximately $ 600 million. It’s not so much money.

Belarusians, however, recognize that the purchase of Russian gas, they have to borrow. Belarusian companies had debts on payment of raw materials.

— This is a huge problem. Situation in Belarus is unfavourable. Many companies have limited or stopped production. The market for Belarusian goods in Russia and Ukraine decreased. In other countries Belarusian goods uncompetitive, since they do not correspond, in particular, European standards. An additional problem was that the calculations for energy are conducted in dollars. Before foreign exchange revenues of the refinery, which supplies its products primarily to the Netherlands — to the stock exchange in Rotterdam. Of this purse you could get money for gas. Now it is empty, there is practically no money. Minsk acting ingeniously: he decided what the price for gas seems to him acceptable, and pays, that is, not allow that the debt has grown to epic proportions. Meanwhile, it is clear that while the Kremlin will not accept a political solution and will not give Gazprom has to lower the price for Belarus, this war between the two countries will continue.

— The Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called on other countries in the EEU do not calculate yourself the price of gas alone. How to understand this statement?

— Russia wants to preserve the tools of influence. One she offers a low price for gas, the other high. States that receive discounts as a rule, hold a loyal position in relation to Moscow and agree to some concessions: either military bases, or the sale of some businesses. A good example is Armenia. She pays less for gas, but it has suspended negotiations on the Association agreement with the EU, and on its territory there is an increased Russian military presence. We see that the Kremlin wants to move away from appeared in 1990-e years of the policy, which was based on the principle of “gas for kisses”.

On the other hand, it may seem that there is oil conflict, in which Moscow has reduced shipments, trying to force Belarus to pay for gas. While Minsk has a contract to supply oil products to Russia. It seems that a vicious circle.

Yes. It was reported that last year Belarus had to buy oil from other countries to Refine it and to supply Russia with petroleum products. The situation is completely absurd. Unfortunately, this part of the political game between two States. Hydrocarbons — just one of the tools with which the game is played.

— Purchase of oil from Iran was a signal for Moscow? The Russians had to respond to it or they considered such a step to Minsk ordinary business transaction?

— It was a deal in the spirit of “every man for himself”. Belarus tried to make this kind of transaction before, for example, with Venezuela, but nothing good ever came of it. The cooperation did not last long. Belarusians bought a relatively small number of raw materials because the price was too high even though they used the swap scheme, that is, instead of Venezuelan oil to Belarus had received oil from Azerbaijan. In this case, the problem was in the quality of the oil. Venezuelan oil (and Azerbaijani) refers to the lighter varieties, and Russian URALS — to severe. Meanwhile, the Belarusian oil refineries work with the heavy and not light oil. Of course, Belarus is demonstrating that she is looking for new sources of supply. But it’s not easy. An important role is played here by the network of pipelines, especially those that pass through Ukrainian territory. And with the Ukrainians, the Belarusians managed to fall out over transit rates just after the deal with Venezuela. Now Ukraine can increase the transit fees as the pipeline Odessa — Brody pipeline and by rail. I suspect that Belarus it will be not too profitable.

In any case, perhaps we are witnessing an attempt to break the deadlock, the more so because the Belarusian energy of 90% is based on gas. In this context, it should also pay attention to the Belarusian-Russian cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. May have arisen between the two countries, the differences could affect the NPP construction in Astravets?

I don’t think so. The plant in Ostrovets is, in fact, the Russian draft. It uses Russian technology, the facility is being built on the Russian money, so many say that it is the Russian plant, which is located just on the territory of Belarus. In addition, the Russian company that participates in the construction of the station will be able to earn money by selling energy.

— How would you comment on press reports that because of a dispute with Minsk, the Board of Directors of Gazprom is going to consider his departure from the company, supports the Belarusian segment of the gas pipeline Yamal — Europe on which gas flows, in particular in Poland?

— I believe that this is impossible, as the Belarusian section of the pipeline belongs entirely to Gazprom. It would be a meaningless step. If the buyer is not there, that will make him the Russians? If they decide to give him the gift of Minsk, who, of course, take it, but who and what decides it there? Stakeholders there are two: Belarus as a transit state and Russia as a country that sells raw materials. If it is clear that in Belarus the pipeline no one will buy it, then who else will he need? This is absurd.