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Belarus To Suspend Oil Contracts With Russia

Belarusian gas stations might be without Russian oil next year (file photo) ( December 30, 2006 -- Belarus's state oil company Belneftekhim has announced it is suspending its 2007 contracts with Russian oil companies

Company Chairman Alyaksandr Borovsky told Belarus's official Belta news agency that the suspension is due to Russia's plans to impose new export duties on oil exported to Belarus.

The duties would hit Belarus's trade in refining and selling Russian crude oil to Western Europe.

The move comes while talks are taking place in Moscow in a bid to resolve a dispute over gas prices.

Russia's state-controlled Gazprom is threatening to halt gas supplies to Belarus on January 1 if Minsk does not agree to higher prices.

Gazprom wants Belarus to pay $105 per 1,000 cubic meters, up from $46 now, and is seeking a deal that would include shares in Belarus's pipeline operator, Beltranshaz.

Belarus is offering to pay $75 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas, while maintaining that any shares in Beltranshaz would have to be purchased separately.

Talks faltered on December 29 with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, speaking from Minsk, accusing Gazprom of "blackmail."

(AFP, Reuters)

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