Russia turns off oil taps supplying Belarus

Russia has halted oil supplies to refineries in Belarus, the Belarusian state energy firm said on Friday, amid a new contract dispute that is also threatening large Russian oil deliveries to Western Europe crossing the country.

Belarus’s state firm Belneftekhim said deliveries had been halted as of January 1.

Two trading sources told Reuters news agency the Russian oil transit to Europe via Belarus was so far continuing uninterrupted.

Europe receives about 10 percent of its oil via the transit link, known as the Druzhba pipeline, which can supply more than one million barrels per day to countries including Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Moscow and Minsk have had several oil and gas spats over the past 10 years, in what has been described as a love-hate relationship between presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko.

Putin and Lukashenko have repeatedly toyed with the idea of political integration of the countries, but the Belarusian leader who came to power in 1994 has backtracked repeatedly.

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