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Lithuania's state-owned railway company Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG) and the port of Klaipeda are ready to supply oil to oil refiners in Belarus amid the latter's conflict with Russia regarding oil imports.
Klaipėda port
Klaipėda port
© Asmeninis archyvas

Darius Silenskis, CEO of Klaipedos Nafta (Klaipeda Oil), a company handling Belarusian oil products, says the terminal is ready to import oil for Belarus.

"The client decides, and we only provide services. Are we ready? Yes, we are ready both technologically and physically, but that's not our decision," Silenskis told BNS.

"To make its terminal more flexible, Klaipedos Nafta has invested almost 45 million euros over the past 3.5 years and built new storage facilities enabling the company to accept crude oil as well.

Arturas Drungilas, marketing and corporate affairs director at Klaipeda Seaport Authority, says the port has experience in carrying oil to Belarus.

"We have experience in transporting crude oil to Belarus. (…) One crude oil tanker was imported from Iran, but Belarus also has more options," Drungilas told BNS.

Egidijus Lazauskas, head of LG's freight subsidiary LG Cargo, also says the company is ready to transport oil to Belarus.

"Different situations create different opportunities. In fact this idea is not new as such a cargo was delivered via the Klaipeda port, the Klaipeda terminal last year. Technologically this process has been perfected and we see no problems on taking some volume back to Belarus," Lazauskas told BNS.

Belarus imports around 18 million tons of oil a year from Russia. The LG Cargo CEO says Lithuania could realistically carry up to 3 million euros.

"Can we carry 18 million tons? Probably not, but we have taken different volumes over the past ten years, we have had 1.5 million and close to 3 million tons going via Klaipeda," he said.

If Belarus really directed its oil imports via Baltic ports, the flow should be divided by all ports on the eastern seashore, Lazauskas believes.

It's not the first time Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has voiced the possibility of importing oil via Baltic or Polish ports.

LG and the Klaipeda port say they are keeping constant contact with Belarus on the possibility to import oil via Klaipeda. Talks also took place before the latest conflict on oil imports between Moscow and Minsk erupted, Silenskis said.

"Those talks are independent from whether today's situation exists or not. (…) We have talked and continue talking about that always that we can (import oil via our terminal – BNS)," he said.

Lazauskas says the last conversation with the Belarusians on the issue took place three months ago.

"We talked about it earlier, some three months ago. They also went and spoke with our colleagues in Latvia and also tried understanding what possibilities were there," the LG Cargo CEO said. "Those consultations took place but to start transportation, we need to receive application on a specific number of railcars. We have not received them so far."

Lazauskas also explained that the period from the receipt of an application to the actual transportation of cargo is not big and usually ranges from one to two weeks.

Meanwhile, Drungilas notes that Russia and Belarus have regular disagreements over oil and gas imports. "It's not the first time, and there have been blockades and restrictions. It always affects the market and consumers. But they always resolve them," he said.

In his words, the oil import issue is a political one but the cheapest way of importing oil for Belarus is doing so from Russia.

"It's a political issue. Belarus has alternatives but they are all more expensive and not beneficial. (…) Of course, it depends on Russia's sale price, but transportation costs are with no doubt higher when carrying it by sea," Drungilas said.

BNS
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