Latest Event Updates
Home » Press Releases » ANALYSIS: National Bank lowers refinancing rate amid growing instability in FX market
ANALYSIS: National Bank lowers refinancing rate amid growing instability in FX market

ANALYSIS: National Bank lowers refinancing rate amid growing instability in FX market

Monthly overview of Belarus’ money-crediting & banking sector, Jan 2020

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress Analysis. The monetary sector of the Belarusian economy, despite its higher efficiency compared to the real sector, has been under pressure from internal and external risks since the beginning of the year. The lack of oil agreements and the resulting decline in exports of oil products have led to a decline in foreign currency inflows into the country. At the same time, unjustified growth of household incomes contributes to the formation of higher demand for foreign currency, as well as to inflationary and devaluation expectations.

An additional destabilizing factor against this background is the position of the government, which openly calls for prompt action to further relax monetary policy.

Table. Key performance indicators of the Belarusian monetary sector in 2020

Real
standing as of Feb 1, 2020
Official forecast, as anticipated on Jan 1, 2021
Belarusian ruble’s average exchange rate against US dollar, Br/$1
2.1380
2.2784*
Refinancing rate, per cent per annum
8,75**
9.5*
Year-on-year inflation growth, % (key target of monetary policy)
4.7 (Jan 2020 on Jan 2019)
not more than 5 (Dec 2020 on Dec 2019)
Belarus’ international reserves growth by the IMF’s SDDS, billion US dollars
9.243
at least 7.3
Growth in broad money supply since early 2018, % (intermediary target of monetary policy)
11.6 (Jan 2019 on Jan 2018)
8–11 (Dec 2020 on Dec 2019)
*as stated in the government’s medium-term finance programme of Belarus’ republican budget, which covers the 2020-2022 period (govt resolution #3 of Jan 3, 2020)
**reduced by 0.25 percentage points on Feb 19, 2020

National Bank keeps lowering key rate

The recently achieved level of interest rates corresponds to the situation in the Belarusian economy and is neutral in relation to it, i.e. it has no stimulating or dissuasive effect. In January 2020, the average interest rate on new fixed-term bank deposits in Belarusian rubles stood at 7.58%, unchanged month on month. The average rate on new ruble loans (except for soft credits) in January this year stood at 10.67%, to compare with 10.45% per annum in Dec 2019.

The average interest rate on interbank overnight credits in Belarusian rubles, which is viewed by banks as the most accurate instrument to measure the real value of money in the country, stood at 9.22% in Jan 2020, to compare with 9.19% in Dec 2020.

In fact, we can say that the monetary methods of the National Bank, which the regulator used to slow inflation and reduce interest rates in the market, have exhausted themselves. At the same time, the Belarusian authorities have not reformed the real sector. This has resulted in the absence of conditions for the emergence of non-inflationary sources of economic growth in Belarus.

In turn, the president’s demands for the need to meet the forecasts push the government into using administrative levers of pressure, including pressure on the National Bank.

As a result, February 12, 2020, at the board meeting on monetary policy, the National Bank decided to reduce the refinancing rate again to a new record low level. Starting February 19, it will stands at 8.75% per annum. This step of the regulator was positively received by the government, but in a comment to the media, Prime Minister of Belarus Sergey Rumas said that the government expected a greater step to reduce it, taking into account the slowdown in inflation.

The cut of the key rate by 25 percentage points is small by Belarusian standards and is unlikely to have a significant impact on interest rates on loans and deposits. One can assume that the February move of the National Bank was more aimed at giving a positive signal to the market and reducing possible negative expectations.

At the same time, the current situation shows that the National Bank’s caution was justified. Due to the sharp deterioration of external factors in February, the Belarusian ruble’s exchange rate is appreciably declining against the dollar, which traditionally is a negative signal for Belarusians and generates various economic concerns, especially in the run-up to the presidential election.

Growing incomes, Belarusian ruble’s exchange rate dynamics stimulate foreign currency purchases

The growth of the U.S. dollar in international markets in February, the decline in oil prices, as well as problems in relations with Russia, and, consequently, negative expectations in the Belarusian economy contributed to the depreciation of the Belarusian ruble. At the same time, the national currency not only fell significantly, but also set another anti-record.

In February, the official rate of the Belarusian ruble fell by 4.73% to the U.S. dollar to Br2.2391/$1 to the dollar on March 1, 2020, and to the euro – by 4.69% to Br2.4675/€1 to the euro. In turn, the Belarusian ruble gained 1.33% against the Russian ruble to Br3.3406/RUB100. Since the beginning of the year, the decline against the dollar has amounted to 6.19%, against the euro – 4.39%, strengthening against the Russian ruble – 1.70%.

The National Bank is trying to curb the fall of the Belarusian ruble, but the impact of adverse factors was too strong. Therefore, even within the basket of three currencies, the Belarusian currency rate has been declining – by 1.9% since early 2020. Given the need to increase exports and disadvantages of a strong Belarusian ruble for the country, its rate will smoothly decline against the currencies of the major countries of Belarus’ foreign trade partners, even if the current negative factors are softened.

The depreciation of the Belarusian ruble, as well as growth of household incomes, resulted in the fact that foreign currency purchases exceeded FX sales in Jan 2020 – a balance that has been in place for two consecutive months.

The National Bank says FX purchases in all segments of the market (including SPOT transactions by non-residents) exceeded FX sales by $16.3 million in Jan 2020, while in Dec 2019 FX purchases exceeded FX sales by $161.2m. To compare, while in Jan 2019 FX purchases exceeded FX sales by $29.4m.

The National Bank says FX purchases by individuals exceeded FX sales by $44.8m (FX purchases exceeded FX sales by $43.1m in Dec 2019); among resident companies January’s FX purchases exceeded FX sales by $24m, to compare with $147.8m in Dec 2019; FX sales by non-resident companies – FX sales exceeded FX sales by $52.5m $29.7m in Dec 2019).

The NBB points out the fact that individuals remain a net buyer of foreign currency for the second consecutive month. A phenomenon like that was last observed at the turn of 2015-2016.

According to the National Bank, the volume of hard currency purchases by individuals in December amounted to $788.4 million, up 16.4% month on month and 27.4% compared to the level of December 2018. All in all, FX sales by individuals (both cash and cashless) stood at $743.6m, up 8.8% more than in Jan 2019.

The situation on the currency market at the beginning of the year is traditionally complex and gradually improves in the following months. At the same time, this February, as it was mentioned above, the Belarusian ruble’s exchange rate was under the pressure of unfavourable factors and significantly decreased, which gives grounds to expect that negative trends in the market will persist.

January: individuals keep increasing fixed-term Br deposits

The overall increase in household incomes, as well as traditional end-of-year payments, also contributed to the growth of personal fixed-term deposits in Belarusian rubles. Given the current rates, time deposits in Belarusian rubles are more attractive, while households prefer to keep foreign currency on demand accounts.

According to the National Bank, the total balance of personal time deposits in Belarusian rubles amounted to Br5.265 billion as of February 1, 2020, up 2.6% in January, while ruble deposits decreased by 2.9% to Br2.944 billion.

In turn, fixed-term foreign currency personal deposits decreased by 0.3% in January 2020, amounting to $6.199 billion as of February 1, while transferable deposits – increased by 2.6% to $1.356 billion. The growth of the balance of transferable deposits, the bulk of which is made up of foreign currency cards, indicates that under conditions of low interest rates on foreign currency deposits in general, the population prefers the availability of foreign currency to the profitability of savings.

In December-January, there was an increase in the inflow of new deposits both in Belarusian rubles and foreign exchange. According to the National Bank, the inflow of new fixed-term deposits in Belarusian rubles amounted to Br804.9 million in January 2020 to compare with Br798.7 million and Br657.2 million in November 2019, while the interest rate on ruble deposits remained virtually unchanged in these months, amounting to 9.6%, 9.7% and 9.7%, respectively.

In turn, the inflow of new fixed-term deposits in foreign currency in January 2020 made $438.7 million to compare with $442.3 million a month earlier and $406.4 million in November 2019. The average interest rate on new fixed-term deposits in foreign currency was 0.6%, 0.7% and 0.7% per annum respectively.

It can be assumed that the attractiveness of foreign currency savings may increase in the coming months against the background of the Belarusian ruble’s depreciation.

Private households’ interest in deposits remains positive largely due to the absence of a developed stock market and the possibility to invest savings in other instruments. At the same time, government-guaranteed reimbursement of deposits in case of problems with the bank makes deposits attractive for households despite low interest rates.

Foreign currency risk realized in lending

The high share of the foreign exchange component in the loan portfolios of Belarusian banks results in the growth of Belarusian enterprises’ debt to banks not only due to new borrowings, but also due to the depreciation of the national currency. At the same time, the main contribution to the formation of credit risks is made by state-owned enterprises which, due to their special status, have managed to generate considerable foreign exchange debts often without even having relevant foreign exchange earnings.

With regard to specific currencies, the situation looks as follows. The volume of Br-denominated loans amounted to Br26.156 billion in early February (+0.8% in January), while FX – Br23.621 billion in equivalent (+4.5%). As of February 1, foreign currency loans accounted for 47.5% against 48.3% as of Jan 1, 2019.

The growth of loans to households slowed down in January, as well as in consumer lending, which had been a cause for concern for the National Bank for quite a long time. As of February 1, the debt of private households on consumer loans amounted to Br5.502bn, having added only 0.4% in January after an increase of 2.6% in December and 1.3% in January 2019.

The increase in credit risks is evidenced by the fact that after a decline for several consecutive months in January, the share of non-performing assets in the assets subject to credit risk increased. According to the regulator, as of February 1, this indicator amounted to 4.94% against 4.63% a month earlier and 5.88% as of February 1, 2019.

The amount of non-performing assets as of February 1, 2020 amounted to Br2.953bn, an increase of 8.3% compared to the beginning of the year. At the same time, the total amount of assets subject to credit risk on that date amounted to Br59.739bn, up 1.4% since early 2020.

Thus, credit risks remain relevant for both banks and the country’s economy as a whole. At the same time, most of them are related to the previously accumulated imbalances, including in terms of the currency structure of issued credits.

The unfavourable beginning of the year raises concerns about maintaining stability of the country’s monetary sector. The growing administrative pressure on the National Bank forms prerequisites for accelerating inflation as well as devaluation expectations in the economy. Additional negative pressure is created by external factors, such as growth of the dollar rate in the world market, decline in oil prices and the subsequent decline of the Russian ruble. In February alone, these events have already led to a tangible growth of the dollar rate in Belarus.

PrimePress Business Analysis Agency

Belarus must do away with bankruptcy schemes – Lukashenko

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. The procedure for the bankruptcy of enterprises must be stopped in Belarus, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said on February 28 at the 8th Congress of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus, the presidential press office reports.

Lukashenko demands that distressed enterprises be supported to ensure their stable operation, instead of bankrupt them. “I am more and more convinced that we need to stop all this bankruptcy and crisis managing nonsense,” he said.

According to the president, in the vast majority of cases, bankruptcy procedures do not lead to recovery and restoration of production, and, in most cases, even the trouble-making enterprises can get up and running.

“Let’s sit together, the government and trade unions, and think what to do with this so-called “bankruptcy.” It should not be in Belarus, because people get hurt, and this ultimately results in greater expenses. We spend a lot of money, fight crime, people go to the underworld, try to make easy money, go on strike, we get distracted, try to talk to them, persuade them. Why are we creating these problems? We do not have enterprises that cannot operate in the market. They all can work, but they must be paid attention to, they must be supported,” Lukashenko said.

According to the Internet portal of the courts of general jurisdiction of Belarus, economic courts were processing 1,883 bankruptcy cases as of early 2020, of which 1,677 were cases on the bankruptcy of private companies. The economic courts considered 206 cases on the economic insolvency of organizations that were of importance to the economy and the social sector of the country. End

Belarus interested in long-term oil supply contract with Azerbaijan – Rumas

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. Belarus is interested in a long-term contract for the supply of Azerbaijani oil to the country, Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Rumas said on March 2 at the meeting with President of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) Rovnag Abdullayev.

“We plan to process oil, which would be delivered through the Odessa-Brody pipeline at the Mozyr Oil Refinery. I believe that SOCAR is also interested in this cooperation,” said Rumas.

Belarus bought oil from SOCAR in 2011 and 2016, and Azerbaijan is buying Belarusian oil products.

“It’s no secret that Belarus is working on diversifying oil supplies. Without alternative oil supplies today, energy security of Belarus is in question. Therefore, we look for reliable partners with whom we can conclude long-term contracts. As practice shows, SOCAR can be such a reliable partner,” Rumas said. “We are not going to completely exclude supplies of Russian oil at this stage, but we need to diversify supplies to a certain level.”

According to the minister, SOCAR specialists are now carrying out construction and installation works at the Mozyr Oil Refinery. Considering SOCAR’s great experience in the construction industry and the works at the Mozyr Oil Refinery, Belarus is interested in the involvement of the highly skilled workforce of the Azerbaijani company in other major investment projects in Belarus.

As reported, SOCAR plans to send the first tanker with oil for Belarus from the Turkish port of Ceyhan on March 5-6, 2020. Belneftekhim Spokesman Alexander Tishchenko said in late February that SOCAR would send two tankers with 85,000 tonnes of oil each for Belarus to the Odessa port in March.

Belarus and Russia have not reach an agreement on the oil supply terms. As a result, on January 1, 2020, Russia stopped supplying oil to the Belarusian refineries, which report a significant reduction in processing volumes. Deliveries of Russian oil to the refineries were partially resumed by the Safmar Group of Mikhail Gutseriyev. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly said that the country was looking for oil sources alternative to Russia. Minsk is considering supplies from Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic States, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. End

Belarusian banks’ profits up 15.9% in Jan 2020 to Br78m

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. Belarusian banks’ total balance sheet profit amounted to 78 million Belarusian rubles (Br) in January 2020, or U.S. $34.835 million at the official rate of the central bank, up 15.9% on the year, the National Bank of Belarus said in a statistical report.

Banks’ regulatory capital stood at Br11.229 billion ($5.015bn) as of Feb 1, 2020, up 6.7% year on year (up 0.6% since early 2019).

Capital adequacy ratio stood at 17.6% as of Feb 1, 2020, to compare with 17.9% as of Jan 1, 2020, 17.8% as of Feb 1, 2019.

Return on equity of Belarusian commercial banks was at 11% as of Feb 1, 2020, to compare with 10.9% as of Jan 1, 2020 and 10.7% as of Feb 1, 2019.

Belarusian banks’ assets stood at Br79.047 billion ($35.303bn) as of Feb 1, 2020, up 9.1% year on year (up 0.9% since Jan 1, 2020).

Return on assets stood at 1.5% as of Feb 1, 2020 (1.5% as of Jan 1, 2020), to compare with 1.6% as of Feb 1, 2019.

As of Feb 1, 2020 the total value of NPLs stood at Br2.953 billion ($1.319bn), up 8.3% since Jan 1, 2020, up 8% since Feb 1, 2019.

Provisions for assets exposed to credit risk grew by 4.3% in Jan 2020 to Br3.815 billion ($1.704bn) as of Feb 1, 2020, (up 6.2% year on year). End (Br2.2391/$1)

Belarus banks’ loan portfolio up 0.8% to Br55.151bn in Jan 2020

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. Belarusian banks’ loan portfolio stood at Br55.151 billion ($24.631 billion at the official exchange rate of the central bank) as of Feb 1, 2020, up 0.8% since early 2020, according to the National Bank of Belarus (NBB).

Of the total loan portfolio, loans issued in Belarusian rubles stood at Br28.493 billion ($12.725bn) as of Feb 1, 2020, down 1.7% since early 2020.

Belarusian banks’ FX share in the loan portfolio increased 3.5% in Jan 2020 to the equivalent of Br26.658 billion ($11.906bn) as of Feb 1, 2020.

Banks’ loan portfolio, excluding factoring, leasing and promissory notes operations, went up by 2.5% in Jan 2020 to Br49.777 billion ($22.231bn) as of Feb 1, 2020.

Loans to state-owned companies went up 2.3% since early 2020 to Br17.454 billion ($7.795bn) as of Feb 1, 2020; loans to private companies went up 4.5% since early 2020 to Br15.658 billion ($6.993n) as of Feb 1, 2020; loans to private households increased 0.8% to Br14.262 billion ($6.370bn); non-banking loans amounted to 2.403 billion rubles ($1.073bn), up 1.6% since early 2020.

The share of short-term loans stood at 29.2% as of Feb 1, 2020 (28.3% as of Jan 1, 2020), while the share of long-term loans stood at 70.8% (71.7% as of Jan 1, 2020).

Overdue debts accounted for 0.29% of the total credit debt as of Feb 1, 2020, to compare with 0.31% as of Jan 1, 2020. Since early 2019, the share of overdue credit debts decreased by 5.6% to Br157.9 million ($70.519m) as of Jan 1, 2020. End (Br2.2391/$1)

S&P Global Ratings affirms Belagroprombank’s rating at ‘B/B; Outlook Stable

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. S&P Global Ratings affirmed the long-term and short-term issuer credit ratings of Belarusian Belagroprombank OJSC at ‘B/B’ with a Stable outlook, S&P reports.

“The affirmation of the ratings reflects our opinion that Belagroprombank will continue clearing the balance sheet that we noted in the last nine months of 2019, as well as that the quality of the bank’s assets will gradually improve to an average level in the banking system of Belarus,” reads the report, “In particular, we expect that the total volume of loans with characteristics corresponding to Stage 3, as well as POCI assets calculated in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) will decrease over the next two years to 13-15% of the bank’s loan portfolio (compared with 17.8% in September 2019). We also believe that the bank’s development strategy implies an increase in the volume of loans issued to financially stable companies in the commercial segment, as well as a gradual decrease in the share of directive lending carried out in accordance with less conservative standards, from the current level to about 33% of the total loan portfolio (including 26% of loans issued under major government programs). In our opinion, this factor should also contribute to a gradual improvement in the quality of Belagroprombank’s assets.”

The share of Belagroprombank’s troubled assets (loans with characteristics corresponding to Stage 3, as well as POCI assets according to IFRS definitions) decreased from 21.6% as of the end of 2018 to 17.8% of the bank’s total loan portfolio as of September 30, 2019 mainly through writing off these assets and paying off debts on them. “Nevertheless, at present, the share of troubled assets of Belagroprombank exceeds the average indicator in the banking sector of Belarus (9% to 11%). In our baseline scenario, we expect that the quality of the bank’s assets will continue to gradually improve in the next two years.”

S&P expects Belagroprombank’s reserves formation expenses to remain elevated at around 50% of net interest income, which will allow the bank to create additional reserves for possible credit losses. These measures will contribute to further clearing the bank balance.

The agency also notes that directive lending was the main factor behind the aggressive lending growth rate until 2015 and the subsequent deterioration in the quality of banking sector assets. “As far as we understand, the share of directive lending in the volume of new loans has decreased from about 5% of GDP before 2015 to below 1% in 2019, and we expect that, ultimately, this figure will approach the minimum values,” S&P says.

The reserves for possible credit losses of Belagroprombank are below the sector average: 5.4% as of September 30, 2019 against 7%. At the same time, loans with characteristics corresponding to Stage 3 were only covered by the reserves by 24% (40% to 45% on average in the sector). This low level of provisioning is partly compensated by government guarantees that cover about 15% of the bank’s loan portfolio. “We expect Belagroprombank to increase reserves in the next two years to a level comparable to the average market indicator. In this regard, we assume that in the next two years, the cost of risk will remain increased at 4% to 5.5%,” reads the report.

S&P expects the bank to maintain capital provision at a moderate level. According to the forecasts, the risk-adjusted capital adequacy ratio will remain at 5.5-6% in 2019-2021.

“The ‘Stable’ outlook on Belagroprombank ratings reflects our opinion that the bank’s ratings are unlikely to change in the next 12 months. We also take into account the ‘Stable’ outlook on the ratings of the Republic of Belarus.”

As reported, in April 2018, S&P Global Ratings upgraded Belagroprombank’s long-term ratings to ‘B’ from ‘B-’ and affirmed its short-term credit ratings at ‘B.’ The outlook on the bank’s ratings is Stable.

Registered in 1991, Belagroprombank OJSC is the second largest backbone bank of Belarus. The main share (91.34%) in its authorized capital is held by the Republic of Belarus represented by the State Property Committee. End

Monday forex session: ruble up 0.22% against dollar to Br2.2342/$1

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. Following the bidding at the single forex session of the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction, the Belarusian ruble stood at Br2.2342/$1 to the dollar on Mar 2, up 0.22% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.

Following the bidding at the single forex session on Monday, the ruble stood at Br2.4703/€1 to the euro, down 0.11%; at Br3.3663/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, down 0.77%.

As reported, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on June 1, 2015 stopped the practice of fixing the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble to the basket of foreign currencies on a day-to-day basis and switched over to FX trading on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction.

The parties taking part in continuous two-way auctions at the BCSE are free to make bids and offers during the entire auction period, however deals will be made if the FX trading system bridges bids with relevant offers.

The weighted average rate of the US dollar, the euro and the Russian ruble shall be the National Bank’s official exchange rate of the relevant currency for the day that follows the day of trading.

At the moment, the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble is pegged to the basket of foreign currencies, with the share of the Russian ruble standing at 50%, the US dollar – 30%, the euro – 20%. End

Kazakhstan stands ready to sell oil to Belarus with export duty

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. Kazakhstan is ready to sell oil to Belarus at a price that would include an export duty, says Vice Minister of Trade and Integration of Kazakhstan Kairat Torebayev.

Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Igor Lyashenko said in early February 2020 that the Belarus-Kazakhstan talks on oil and oil product supplies were nearing completion, and a contract would be signed in the very near future. He said Minsk sought duty-free oil supplies, which would make the oil price as close as possible to the price of Russian oil. Belarus was negotiating oil supplies through pipelines.

“Our country applies customs duties when exporting oil,” BelTA state newswire quotes Torebayev as saying, “The duty on oil is $60 per tonne and around $30 for a refined product. If Kazakhstan and Belarus agreed on supplies, Belarus is expected to pay this export duty as well to prevent oil flows from Kazakhstan to the European Union through its territory. We need to secure our market so that there is no re-export. According to our estimates, if we do not apply this duty, our losses would total around $200 million, given that, as Belarus says, it needs 3.5 million tonnes of oil.”

Torebayev believes that a bilateral contract on oil supplies will be signed, since both parties are interested in that. Torebayev hopes that the Belarusian counterparts will guarantee that Kazakhstan’s oil will not be re-exported, and that oil products produced at the Belarusian refineries will be consumed inside the country. He says Kazakhstan is waiting for guarantee proposals, as there is a wide range of possible solutions, for example, to analyze who will consume oil products, where and how much. The negotiations are in progress, and the agreement will be signed as soon as Minsk provides a guarantee mechanism, says Torebayev.

As reported, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko earlier authorized the government to negotiate and signed an agreement with Kazakhstan on the supply of oil and oil products. Belneftekhim and the Energy Ministry of Kazakhstan held talks on October 25, 2019 in Nur-Sultan. They agreed on the text of an intergovernmental agreement on supplies of oil and oil products from Kazakhstan to Belarus. It will be signed upon completion of required domestic procedures by the parties. The agreement does not indicate the volume of proposed deliveries (the amount of up to 3.5 million tonnes per year was mentioned during preliminary negotiations), the prices or logistics. This will be a matter of contracts with Kazakhstani oil companies. The agreement specifically stipulates a ban on the re-export of Kazakhstani oil or petroleum products. The Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan said on January 26 that Belarus would independently discuss with Russia possible oil supplies from Kazakhstan to Belarus through the Russian territory. End

Russia cuts oil supplies to Belarus’ refineries by 76% in Jan-Feb 2020 to 709,140 tonnes

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. Russia reduced oil supplies to Belarusian refineries (Naftan OJSC, Novopolotsk, Vitebsk Oblast and Mozyr Refinery OJSC, Gomel Oblast) in January-February 2020 by 76% year on year to 709,140 tonnes, although the Union State’s supply plan stipulated 4 million tons, the Central Dispatching Department of the Fuel and Energy Complex of Russia reports.

Belarusian state petrochemical concern Belneftekhim expected that the refineries would process 5.9 million tonnes of oil in 1Q20.

Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Igor Lyashenko said on February 28 that the Belarusian refineries were receiving 1 million tonnes of oil per month in January-February. The same amount was expected in March, which would saturate the domestic market with oil products and ensure a critical exports volume.

Deputy Chairman of Belneftekhim Vladimir Sizov said on February 25 that the Belarusian refineries would process around 1.8 million tonnes of oil in total in January-February, operating in a 50% load mode. He said this mode ensured that domestic market’s demand for oil products was fully met, including by processing oil extracted in Belarus in the amount of 1.7 million tonnes per year.

In December 2019, Belarus and Russia approved an indicative balance of oil supplies to Belarus for 2020 in the amount of 24 million tonnes. However, due to disagreements on the price terms for Belarus, the parties failed to enter into a contract on oil supplies from Russia to Belarus under the agreed balance for 2020.

According to the approved supply plan for 2020, Belarus was supposed to receive 5.9 million tonnes of Russian oil in the first quarter of 2020 (1.99 million tonnes in January). In fact, in January 2020, Naftan only received 341,100 tonnes of Russian oil (884,000 tonnes planned), and the Mozyr Oil Refinery was supplied with 66,100 tonnes (1.105 million tonnes planned). Belneftekhim announced on February 11 that Belarus had begun taking process oil from the Druzhba pipeline to maintain operations at the Belarusian refineries. End

Belarus sets tariff for oil transportation from Brody to Mozyr Refinery at Br0.87 per tonne

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. Belarus has set the tariff for oil transportation through the Gomeltransneft Druzhba oil trunk pipeline from Brody (Ukraine) to Mozyr and then to the Mozyr Oil Refinery OJSC (Gomel Oblast) at Br0.87 ($0.38 at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus) per tonne ex VAT, as per resolution No.15 of the Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade (MART) of Belarus dated February 21, 2020 (published on the National Legal Internet Portal on February 29).

The resolution sets the tariff for oil transportation through the Gomeltransneft Druzhba pipeline from Brody to Mozyr and then to the Mozyr Oil Refinery in foreign exchange at 26.61 Russian rubles per tonne ex VAT.

As reported, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) will deliver 160,000 tonnes of oil in two oil tankers to Belarus in March 2020 through the Odessa port (Ukraine) for its further transportation through the Odessa-Brody pipeline.

According to MART, the Belarusian section of the Brody-Mozyr-Mozyr Oil Refinery pipeline, which is 40 km long, will be used to transport the oil to the refinery.

The resolution comes into force upon its official publication.

The Odessa-Brody pipeline was built as an alternative route for the supply of Caspian oil to Ukraine and further to Europe, primarily to Poland, to the Plock and Gdansk refineries, bypassing Russia. The construction of the pipeline that connected the Yuzhny Terminal near Odessa with the city of Brody in the Lviv Region was completed in 2001. The pipeline has an operational length of 667 km and a design capacity of 14.5 million tonnes of oil per year. End

Belarus raises motor fuel prices 0.54% Mar 1

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. Automobile fuel prices (petrol and diesel fuel) were raised in Belarus on Mar 1, 2020 by 0.55% on average.

On Mar 1, 2020, the retail price of the AI-95-K5 petrol went up by 0.55% to Br1.83 ($0.81 at the exchange rate of the National Bank of Belarus) per litre, the AI-92-K5 petrol – up 0.58% to Br1.73 ($0.77) per litre, the AI-98-K5 petrol – up 0.49% to Br2.05 ($0.91) per litre, the price of diesel fuel – raised by 0.55% to Br1.83 ($0.81) per litre.

It has been the ninth adjustment in Belarus’ motor fuel prices in 2020. This year, the retail price of the AI-95-K5 petrol has grown by 5.02%, the AI-98-K5 petrol – up 4.47%, the AI-92-K5 petrol – up 5.32%, diesel fuel – up 4.5%.

“Amid increased external risks, which caused the growth of volatility of oil quotations and weakening of the Belarusian ruble, in order to prevent the risks of loss of financial stability of refineries in anticipation of the next stage of the tax manoeuvre, Belneftekhim is forced to return to the strategy of weekly adjustment of motor fuel prices,” the state-run petrochemical industries concern Belneftekhim said in a statement.

According to Belneftekhim, February 2020 ends with a downward trend in oil prices, which gives grounds to an optimistic forecast for the further dynamics of prices of oil products on the domestic market in March.

Motor fuel prices in Belarus changed 28 times in 2019. In 2019, the AI-95-K5 petrol price grew by 12.35%, the AI-98-K5 petrol – 9.70%, the AI-92-K5 petrol – 13.95%, diesel fuel – 12.35%. End (Br2.2391/$1)

Belarus’ liquor output down 1.7% in Jan 2020 to 978,000 dal

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. Belarus reduced output of vodka and hard liquor by 1.7% year on year in January 2020 to 978,000 dal, Belarus’ National Statistics Committee (Belstat) said in a report.

Output of fermented alcoholic beverages reduced by 15.1% year on year in Jan 2020 to 376,000 dal.

Output of grape wine reduced by 14.4% to 231,000 dal, sparkling wine – up 25.4% to 158,000 dal.

Output of brandy grew by 51.7% to 44,000 dal.

Inventories of vodka and potable spirit stood at 902,000 decaliters as of Feb 1, 2020, 92.2% of average monthly output.

Stock reserves of brandy stood at 41,000 decaliters, 93.2% of average monthly output; sparkling wines – 107,000 dal (67.7% of average monthly output), grape wines – 291,000 dal (126%), fermented drinks – 407,000 dal, 108.8% of average monthly output.

As of Feb 1, 2020, stocks of fermented drinks increased by 25.7 percentage points of average monthly output compared with Jan 1, 2020; vodka and potable spirit up 23.9%; brandy – up 3.2%. Stocks of grape wines increased by 30.1 percentage points, sparkling wines – down 4.3 percentage points. End

Belarus’ beer output up 14.9%/yr in Jan 2020 to 3.165m dal

MINSK, Mar 2 – PrimePress. Belarus’ beer output increased 14.9% on the year in Jan 2020 to 3.165 million decaliters, Belarus’ National Statistics Committee (Belstat) said in a report.

In Jan 2020 malt output grew by 1.7% year on year to 12,600 dal.

Beer inventories stood at 2.064 million dal as of Feb 1, 2020 (67.4% of average monthly output), up 6.4 pp month on month. Malt inventories stood at 21,400 tonnes, 190.3% of average monthly output, down 34 pp month on month. End

Belarus is 1 million tonnes of oil short every month due to Russia’s groundless actions – Lukashenko

MINSK, Mar 3 – PrimePress. Belarus is around 1 million tonnes of oil short every month due to Russia’s groundless actions when it comes to crude oil supplies, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said on March 3 at the meeting on oil refining efficiency in 2020 onwards, the presidential press office reports.

“As an ultimatum, Russia links oil supplies with other issues it seeks to resolve, thus disregarding the agreements in force and the very principles of our relations,” said Lukashenko.

Prime Minister Sergei Rumas said at the meeting that since late December 2019, Belarusian oil refineries (Naftan OJSC, Novopolotsk, Vitebsk Oblast, and Mozyr Oil Refinery OJSC, Gomel Oblast) have to operate in a reduced capacity utilization mode. “The volume of oil refining in January-February 2020 amounted to 1.85 million tonnes: Naftan – 892,000 tonnes, Mozyr Oil Refinery – 962,000 tonnes,” he said.

According to Lukashenko, Russia’s groundless actions in the field of oil supplies affect Belarus’ GDP and budget revenues, since not only the domestic fuel market, but also the entire petrochemical industry depend on imported oil.

“It is also our fault, because we did not diversify oil supplies when we should have. Monopolism always leads to such bottlenecks,” Lukashenko said. He demands that the search for long-term alternative sources of raw materials be expedited. “Oil is not a monopoly product, and there are plenty of those willing to work with us, even in Russia. Suppliers must be found. This is the number one task,” he said.

Alternatives supply considerations do not suggest that Russian oil will be ultimately rejected, because as Lukashenko said, generations of Belarusians put forth huge efforts to build oil extraction and transportation infrastructure in Russia when the two peoples were one nation, and the logistics is the most convenient. “But we, of course, will not eat humble pie every December 31, begging for this oil. And once the monopoly is over, it will be easier to negotiate prices,” Lukashenko said.

Against the backdrop of the oil issue, the president instructed the government to find options to diversify economic growth drivers. “I hope that a concrete plan will be made for the next five-year period to alleviate the impacts of oil supply terms on GDP.”

As reported, Russia and Belarus have so far failed to reach agreements on the restoration of the full volume of oil supplies, although an indicative balance of 24 million tonnes of oil in 2020 had been agreed upon. Belarus rejects the proposed price and requests compensation for losses incurred due to the tax manoeuvre in the Russian oil sector. In particular, Minsk considers it inexpedient to maintain the premiums of $10-12 per tonne for Russian oil companies.

Russia, in turn, is linking the resolution of almost all issues in bilateral economic cooperation with Belarus with the signing of 31 roadmaps on deeper integration within the Belarus-Russia Union State. The parties said earlier that 28 roadmaps had been coordinated in December 2019. However, the remaining ones concern the most difficult problems, including those affecting oil and gas supply terms. In particular, Russia agrees to compensate for Belarus’ losses resulted from the tax manoeuvre by subsidizing from the budget of the Russian Federation a reverse excise tax for the Belarusian refineries, but only if the taxation laws of the two countries are unified. Meanwhile, the corresponding roadmap has not yet been signed, and the unified tax code is planned to be put into effect in January 2022 at the earliest.

As a result, Russia cut oil supplies to Belarus in January-February 2020 by 76% year on year to 709,140 tonnes, although the approved plan provided for 4 million tonnes. End

Belarus may count on United States’ assistance in organizing alternative oil supplies – Lukashenko

MINSK, Mar 3 – PrimePress. Belarus will profoundly consider possible logistics solutions to obtain oil from alternative sources, counting, inter alia, on the United States’ assistance, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said on March 3 at the meeting on oil refining efficiency in 2020 onwards, the presidential press office reports.

“We need multidimensional and systemic infrastructure solutions. We should consider the possibility of joint projects with foreign suppliers,” Lukashenko said, “It is time to finally accept the fact that we should rely only on ourselves in energy matters, and, at a critical moment, even the closest partner will be only guided by his own interests.”

Lukashenko said that when looking for alternative supply logistics, the location of Belarus’ oil refineries (Naftan OJSC, Novopolotsk, Vitebsk Oblast, and Mozyr Oil Refinery OJSC, Gomel Oblast) must be taken into account. With this in mind, there are two main alternative routes: via the sea ports of Ukraine through the Odessa-Brody pipeline, and via the Baltic ports.

According to Lukashenko, Baltic infrastructure can be improved by organizing deliveries through a pipeline. “It is not a problem to build one. By the way, there are a couple of pipes there that would suit us, if we put them in order and agree with the Baltic States on those pipelines,” he said.

The president also reminded that the United States offered assistance in organizing alternative oil supplies to Belarus. “Pompeo [US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo] offered us oil at competitive prices. And a statement was made at the Munich Conference that they allocated $1 billion for the construction of logistics facilities, including for oil supplies. We can expect very cheap loans from them for the construction of a pipeline from the Baltic Sea. This must not take more than a year and a half to two years,” said Lukashenko.

“We will continue buying oil from Russia (if Russia wants to sell), maybe 40% or 50% when we finally diversify supplies. And we can buy via the Baltic and Odessa ports, 30% each. These will be three sources. We can fully diversify in terms of oil supplies,” the president said.

As reported, Lukashenko said on January 21 at the meeting on oil products exports that Belarus should procure 30-40% of oil in Russia, 30% through Baltic ports and 30% through Ukraine. Later, Lukashenko instructed the line agencies to negotiate with Poland supplies of American and Saudi oil through the port of Gdansk and then through the pipeline to Belarus.

On February 28, PERN, the operator of the Polish section of the Druzhba oil pipeline, announced the plan to organize the transportation of oil from the port of Gdansk eastward through the Gdansk-Plock and Plock-Adamowo sections (the Adamowo-Zastawa oil pumping station is located on the linear part of the Druzhba pipeline near the Belarusian border.

Belneftekhim Chairman Andrei Rybakov said on March 2 that the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) could supply up to 1 million tonnes of oil to Belarus in 2020. In March, SOCAR plans to deliver two oil tankers (85,000 tonnes each) to the Odessa port (Ukraine) for its subsequent transportation through the Odessa-Brody pipeline. End

Belarus willing to cooperate in oil refining with Ukraine and Baltic States– Lukashenko

MINSK, Mar 3 – PrimePress. Belarus is willing to cooperate in production and sales of oil products on the markets of Ukraine, south-eastern Europe and the Baltic States, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting on said on March 3 at the meeting on oil refining efficiency in 2020 onwards. ‘Pool of the First’ Telegram channel posted a video of his speech.

Lukashenko considers it expedient to cooperate with Ukraine and the Baltic States in production of oil products at Belarusian refineries (Naftan OJSC, Novopolotsk, Vitebsk Oblast, and Mozyr Oil Refinery OJSC, Gomel Oblast) for their subsequent sales on regional markets.

“We can work together, agree with Ukraine, South-East Europe, and supply oil products to this market, buying oil through the Odessa port,” Lukashenko said, “The southern market, first of all of our brotherly Ukraine, is a premium market. The Mozyr refinery produces a high-quality product, even Ukrainian drivers say this.”

According to Lukashenko, it is possible to build cooperation with the Naftan refinery in a similar way. “We can work together with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, or some other market, if necessary, to refine oil and sell it to our northern neighbours,” he said.

As reported, in December 2019, Belarus and Russia agreed on an indicative balance of oil supplies to Belarus for 2020 in the amount of 24 million tonnes. However, due to price terms disagreements, contracts with the largest oil companies of the Russian Federation have not yet been signed. As a result, in January-February, Belarusian refineries processed around 1.8 million tonnes of oil, although 4 million tonnes were planned, working in a 50% load mode. The same amount (around 1 million tonnes) is expected to be refined in March, which will only secure the domestic market and critical exports. End

Lukashenko appoints new oil supervisor in Belarus’ government

MINSK, Mar 3 – PrimePress. On March 3, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko appointed Yuri Nazarov deputy prime minister of Belarus. Nazarov replaced Igor Lyashenko, who will be transferred to another position, the presidential press office reports.

Nazarov will supervise the petrochemical complex of Belarus. He was born in 1962 in Gorki, Mogilev Oblast; graduated from the Belarusian State Technological Institute and the Presidential Academy of Public Administration; served as deputy head of the Presidential Property Management Directorate in 2010-2013; chairman of the Bellesbumprom Concern from December 2013 to the appointment as deputy prime minister. End

Belarus reports Br946.6m budget surplus in Jan 2020

MINSK, Mar 3 – PrimePress. Belarus’ Finance Ministry posted a republican budget surplus of 946.6 million Belarusian rubles (Br) (U.S. $423.7 million at the official rate of the National Bank of Belarus) in Jan 2020, or 9.1% of the country’s GDP in Jan 2020, the Finance Ministry said in a release.

The republican budget indicates spending and revenues of the central administration, whereas the consolidated budget also includes local budgets.

Republican budget revenues reached Br2.423 billion ($1.1 billion), or 9.9% of the annual target for 2020; expenditures – Br1.477bn ($661.1m), or 5.8% of the annual target.

Revenues of the state administration budget (republican budget, local budgets and Welfare Ministry’s Social Security Fund (SSF), Telecom Ministry’s universal service fund, civil aviation fund) totalled Br5.154 billion in Jan 2020 ($2.3 billion), 9.4% of the annual plan; expenditures – Br3.7 billion ($1.66 billion, 6.6%), surplus – Br1.454 billion ($650.8 million), or 14% of GDP in Jan 2020.

Revenues from the value-added tax amounted to Br1.97 billion ($881.75 million, 16.1% of the year target), from the profit tax – minus Br2.6 million ($1.2 billion, minus 0.1%), excises – Br210 million ($94 million, 8.5%), from foreign economic activities Br215.3 million ($96.4 million), 4.5% of the annual target.

Revenues of the Labour and Welfare Ministry’s Social Security Fund in Jan 2020 stood at Br1.441 billion ($645 million, 8.4%), expenditures – Br1.291bn ($577.8m, 7.6%), surplus – Br150 million ($67.1m).

Tax arrears stood at Br174.2 million ($78m) as of Feb 1, 2020.

As reported, the republican budget surplus in 2019 totalled Br3.229 billion ($1.45bn), 2.5% of GDP. Revenues – Br24.315 billion ($10.9bn), expenditures – Br21.087 billion ($9.44bn). Revenues of the central administration in 2019 amounted to Br53.985 billion ($24.2bn); expenditures – Br50.501 billion ($22.6bn); surplus – Br3.485 billion ($1.56bn), or 2.6% of GDP. End (Br2.2342/$1)

Belarus reports $145.5m deficit in foreign trade in goods in Jan 2020

MINSK, Mar 3 – PrimePress. Belarus’ deficit in foreign trade in commodities totalled $145.5 million in January 2020 compared with the deficit of $141.7 million in January 2019, the National Statistics Committee of Belarus (Belstat) said in a report.

Exports of commodities decreased in January 2020 by 16.6% to compare with $2.056 billion in January 2019; imports decreased 15.6% to $2.202 billion.

Exports of commodities to the CIS grew by 6.6% year on year to $1.3 billion. Exports to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) member states increased 8.3% to $1.029 billion, to Russia – up 8.6% to $969.9 million.

Exports of commodities to countries outside the CIS decreased 39.4% year on year in Jan 2020 to $756.5 million. Exports to the European Union (EU) were down 47.7% to $407.1 million.

Imports of commodities from the CIS decreased 26% year on year in January 2020 to $1.227 billion; imports from the EEU – down 27.9% to $1.114 billion, from Russia – down 28.4% to $1.1 billion.

Imports of commodities from countries outside the CIS grew by 2.7% year on year in Jan 2020 to $974.8 million. Imports from the EU decreased 8.7% to $395 million.

According to Belstat, the surplus in foreign trade in commodities with the CIS in Jan 2020 amounted to $72.8 million to compare with a $439.6 billion deficit in Jan 2019; with the EEU member states – a $84.7 million deficit (minus $594.4bn), from Russia – a $130.5 million deficit (minus $644.7m).

The deficit of foreign trade in commodities with countries outside the CIS amounted to $218.3 million in Jan 2020 against a $297.9 million surplus in Jan 2019. The surplus in trade in commodities with the EU in Jan 2020 stood at $12.1 million ($346.3m in Jan 2019).

The CIS accounted for 59.3% in Belarus’ foreign trade turnover in Jan 2020 (56.7% in Jan 2019), countries outside the CIS – 40.7% (43.3%); EEU – 50.33% (49.14%), Russia – 48.61% (47.88%), EU – 18.84% (23.88%).

As reported, Belarus’ deficit of foreign trade in commodities in 2019 totalled $6.405 billion. Exports of commodities decreased in 2019 by 2.9% year on year to $32.937 billion; imports grew by 2.3% to $39.342 billion. End

Tuesday forex session: ruble down 0.05% against dollar to Br2.2353/$1

MINSK, Mar 3 – PrimePress. Following the bidding at the single forex session of the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction, the Belarusian ruble stood at Br2.2353/$1 to the dollar on Mar 3, down 0.05% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.

Following the bidding at the single forex session on Tuesday, the ruble stood at Br2.4867/€1 to the euro, down 0.66%; at Br3.3674/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, down 0.03%.

As reported, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on June 1, 2015 stopped the practice of fixing the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble to the basket of foreign currencies on a day-to-day basis and switched over to FX trading on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction.

The parties taking part in continuous two-way auctions at the BCSE are free to make bids and offers during the entire auction period, however deals will be made if the FX trading system bridges bids with relevant offers.

The weighted average rate of the US dollar, the euro and the Russian ruble shall be the National Bank’s official exchange rate of the relevant currency for the day that follows the day of trading.

At the moment, the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble is pegged to the basket of foreign currencies, with the share of the Russian ruble standing at 50%, the US dollar – 30%, the euro – 20%. End

Stadler Minsk plans to open converter plant in Fanipol in April

MINSK, Mar 3 – PrimePress. Stadler Minsk (Fanipol, Dzerzhinsk District, Minsk Oblast) plans to open a converter plant in Fanipol in April 2020.

Stadler Minsk Director General Philipp Brunner made a statement to this effect at a press-conference on Mar 3.

“We will soon launch a new converter plant. We already have a good portfolio of orders from customers in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic,” BelTA newswire reports citing Brunner as saying.

The plant plans to increase production capacity by 25% in 2020, said Brunner. With increased capacity, in 2021, the plant will produce 500 carriages per year. “Previously, the plant’s annual capacity to limited to 300 carriages. In 2020 it is expected to grow to 400. Then in 2022 we will be the most powerful plant in the Stadler Group. For now, we are in second place,” Brunner said.

Stadler Minsk also intends to supply the second batch of trains for Minsk Subway. “We have agreed to supply ten subway trains for the capital city: six four-car and four five-car. We have already shipped to the customer the first two series. In the second quarter of 2020 (tentatively in April), we will supply the remaining trains,” said Brunner.

Another major order was made by the Belarusian Railway Company (BZD) – ten five-car trains. The order is at the design stage, production will soon begin. Earlier, Stadler Minsk produced two seven-car trains for the Belarusian Railways.

According to Brunner, Azerbaijan has placed an order for ten single-deck trains, Hungary has made an application for 21 six-car double-deck electric trains and Slovenia is considering the possibility of purchasing double-deck and single-deck electric trains. “Stadler Minsk also receives orders for the production of components for other plants, in particular, aluminium bodies for companies in Germany, Spain and Poland.

Established in 2014, Stadler Minsk (Stadler Rail Group’s Belarusian affiliate) produces commuter trains, trams and metro trains. End

Transneft delivers 302,000 tonnes of oil to Belarus in Feb 2020

MINSK, Mar 3 – PrimePress. Russian Transneft PJSC (the operator of the main oil pipelines of Russia and the CIS) delivered 302,000 tonnes of oil to the Belarusian oil refineries (Naftan OJSC, Novopolotsk, Vitebsk Oblast, and Mozyr Oil Refinery OJSC, Gomel Oblast) In February 2020, Transneft Spokesman Igor Dyomin said on March 3.

He told Oilcapital.ru that Transneft plans to supply 24.5 million tonnes of oil to the neighbouring countries in 2020 (a 31.7% year-on-year increase), including 23.5 million tonnes to Belarusian refineries (17.6 million tonnes in 2019) in accordance with the indicative balance, and 1 million tonnes to Kazakhstan’s refineries (as in 2019).

Transneft also plans to supply 205 million tons of oil countries outside the CIS in 2020 (down 7% year on year). 115 million tonnes (down 16%) will go through sea ports, 50 million tonnes (up 18%) through the Druzhba trunk pipeline, and 40 million tons (as in 2019) to China.

Belarus and Russia have not reach an agreement on the oil supply terms. As a result, on January 1, 2020, Russia stopped supplying oil to the Belarusian refineries, which report a significant reduction in processing volumes. Deliveries of Russian oil to the refineries were partially resumed by the Safmar Group of Mikhail Gutseriyev. According to the Central Dispatching Department of the Fuel and Energy Complex of Russia, oil supplies from Russia to Belarus decreased in Jan-Feb 2020 by 76% year on year to 709,140 tonnes. Belneftekhim reports that the Belarusian refineries operate in a 50% load mode. They processed 1.8 million tonnes of oil in Jan-Feb 2020.

Belneftekhim expects that in March, oil supplies to the Belarusian refineries from all sources will total around 1 million tonnes, says Belneftekhim Spokesman Alexander Tishchenko. In March, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) will send two tankers (170,000 tonnes each) to Odessa. The oil will be then transported through the Odessa-Brody pipeline to the Mozyr Oil Refinery. The arrival of the first of two tankers with oil purchased without a premium from Russian traders to the port of Klaipeda (Lithuania) is expected on March 4. Also, in March, five new Russian suppliers will begin deliveries in addition to those by Safmar (300,000 tonnes planned). Belarus will also refine 130,000 to 140,000 tonnes of domestically produced oil. End

A1 initiates creation of Belarusian Computer Sports Federation

MINSK, Mar 3 – PrimePress. The Belarusian cell communication company A1 (Telekom Austria Group) has initiated the creation of the Belarusian Computer Sports Federation (BCSF), which will act as a national public association, the telecom operator said in a press-release.

As previously reported, the BCSF was registered by the Ministry of Justice of Belarus on February 7, 2020. The Ministry of Justice noted that this public association was created for the development and popularization of computer sport in Belarus, holding computer sports competitions at a regional, national and international levels, development of sports relations and contacts with similar sports organizations and computer sports enthusiasts of other countries.

According to Anton Bladik, A1 Deputy Director for Digital Platforms and Content, cybersports has already turned into a full-fledged industry, which attracts investments from large companies. “We see a certain potential in computer sports which, in our opinion, can and should develop. That is why the A1 company has initiated the creation of the Belarusian Computer Sports Federation.”

A1 is determined to promote the recognition of computer sport at a state level: cybersports disciplines can get the status of official sports in the future.

Established in 1998, A1 unitary enterprise is now fully owned by A1 Telekom Austria Group.
The mobile operator A1 started revenue service of its 3G network based on the HSPA/HSPA+ technology in March 2010. The operator made 4G mobile internet services available to customers in March 2019. Until Aug 1, 2019 the company had been operating under the velcom brand. The operator’s mobile user base as of January 1, 2020 was 4.89 million subscribers. End

For additional information or enquiries, please, contact Mr. Vladimir Kremyanko, First Secretary ([email protected], tel. 011 405 29 334)