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Oil Price Rises Amid Russia-Belarus Row

The price of oil has risen today, the first trading day of the new year, following Russia's reported decision to halt the flow of crude supplies to Belarusian refineries over a pricing dispute.

Crude for February delivery has risen more than 60 U.S. cents in Asian trading, to hit $80 a barrel.

On January 3, the Belarusian government accused Russia of exerting what it called "unacceptable" pressure to force Belarus to agree to Moscow's terms for oil exports to Belarus, and reports said talks between the neighboring countries had made little progress.

The dispute involves Russian moves to provide Belarus with tax-free oil for the country's internal consumption, but to tax Russian oil that Belarus refines and exports to the West.

Some Russian supplies to Germany and Poland were cut during a similar row between Moscow and Minsk in January, 2007 -- raising concerns in the West about Russia's reliability as an energy partner.

compiled from agency reports