MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has agreed with Belarus to increase its oil exports in the first quarter of 2013 by 8.6 percent, Igor Dyomin, a spokesman for Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft, said on Saturday.
“We have received official changes to the export schedule. Deliveries of oil to Belarus in the first quarter of 2013 will increase from the 4.625 million tons planned earlier to 5.025 million tons,” Dyomin said.
Talks on oil deliveries for full-year 2013 are still in progress, he said.
The agreement to increase crude deliveries follows resolution of the so-called solvents problem, in which Moscow accused Minsk of failing to transfer to Russia $1.5 billion in customs duties that Belarus collected on oil product exports.
Russia had repeatedly expressed concern about Belarus exporting oil products to Europe under the guise of solvents and thinners to avoid transfer of duties to the Russian budget. Moscow had said the volume of crude supplied to Belarus next year would be tied to resolution of the issue.
Last week Belarus agreed to make amendments to the Code of the Customs Union between the ex-Soviet republics of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan that would put an end to the practice of duty-free “solvents” export.
According to Belarus’ Statistical Agency Belstat, Belarus exported 244,000 tons of “solvents” in 2010, a figure that rose to 2.1 million tons in 2011 and to 2.9 million tons in the first half of 2012. Latvia was the main buyer, importing 1.5 million tons.