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Belarus President Swore to Find Other Oil Source

24 January 2007 , 11:41475
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko criticized Russia for a series of energy deals that have sharply raised prices and cut revenues for Belarus.

He said he would find oil from "other sources."

Lukashenko, who has relied on cheap Russian energy to fuel his country's centrally controlled economy, reluctantly agreed to pay more than twice the previous price for gas this year - and even more in coming years.

And two weeks ago, Russia forced Belarus to back down in a dispute over oil supplies and transit fees, forcing a deal that will reduce the profits Belarus makes by refining Russian oil and selling the products. The dispute briefly disrupted oil supplies to Europe.

Lukashenko said the country intended to import oil through ports in neighboring Baltic countries using an upgraded pipeline to Novopolotsk; the government has said the upgrade could cost $15 million to $30 million.

He also said Russia should pay transshipping oil and gas supplies to Europe.

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