Belarus supplies half of all Ukraine’s needs for premium unleaded gasoline. While some worry that Belarus will stop its supply to Ukraine, others argue that such a move would enormously damage the Belarusian economy.
Ukraine recently banned flights from airplanes from Belarus as a response to the Belarussian authorities diverting a Ryanair plane on its way from Greece to Lithuania to arrest 26-year-old Roman Protasevich, a journalist and opposition activist. Belarus quickly imposed restrictions on a series of imports from Ukraine, including agricultural machinery and washing machines. Ukraine also imposed trade restrictions in response.
“I repeat that we are ready to completely repeal all our decisions, we are ready to return the free trade regime in full, but only when Ukraine reconsiders the measures taken on the products of the Belarusian side, which were de facto aimed at simply restrict competition from Belarusian producers,” said Alexander Guryanov, First Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus, according to Radio Liberty.
Ukraine hasn’t changed its mind, and some observers worry that the current problems could widen. Belarus supplies much of Ukraine’s gasoline supply, and the news site Oilnews-Enkorr reports about problems with delivery from Belarus.
“Today, we were told that there would be no supplies of the A-95 at all. In the meantime, the full volume of the A-92 will be delivered,” said a source to the news site, arguing that it was unclear whether this is really problems related to delivery or a deliberate cut.
An unreliable partner
Another source told Oilnews-Enkorr that there is supposedly lots of gasoline at the Mozyr Plant in Belarus but that it isn’t moving to Ukraine at the moment. Some find it suspicious that supplies are halted now with the political crisis in mind between Belarus and Ukraine. Belarus claims that the problem is due to repairs, which can last up to one month.
“There is no ban. We have nominated volumes under contracts until the 5th of the month of deliveries. The nomination will be, but it will probably be reduced. This is due to the planned repair of the Mozyr refinery, which will begin on June 1. There are no bans on other products, and there is no political basis either,” said Serhiy Melnikov, Deputy General Director in Ukraine for the Belarussian Oil Company BNC-Ukraine, to LB.ua.
No matter what, the lower supply of especially A-95 will mean a shortage of supply in Ukraine, which relies on about 50 percent of its supplies from Belarus.
“The lack of 50% supply cannot last a minute for the market without a trace. It is possible to partially cover at the expense of Lithuania, but it is unlikely that the plant will be able to supply more than 10-15 thousand tons. It can be imported by sea, but no one has made such supplies for a long time, unknown technical ability to quickly accept and unload such volume,” said Serhii Kuyun, director of the A-95 consulting group, to the site.
Minister: Take it easy?
Deputy Minister of Economy – Trade Representative of Ukraine Taras Kachka has told everyone not to panic because of the lack of supply.
“News on gasoline, according to operational information, is related to technological processes at the production of the Belarusian manufacturer and will not have long-term consequences for the import of gasoline from Belarus,” Kachka said, according to Unian, “The policy on diversification of supplies will be strengthened. But don’t panic yet!”
Energy expert Gennady Ryabtsev also told Unian that the Ukrainian oil market is very profitable for Belarus and that many of those companies are partly owned by Russia.
“Belarusian factories are owned not only by Belarusians – they are joint-stock companies, half of whose shares belong to Russian companies, which are also interested in supplying oil products to Ukraine,” said Ryabtsev.