Exclusive: Russia increases gasoline imports from Belarus due to reduced domestic supply

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has increased gasoline imports from neighboring Belarus in March to deal with the risk of shortages in its domestic market due to unscheduled repairs at Russian refineries following drone attacks, four industry and trade sources said on Wednesday.

Russia is normally a net exporter of fuel and a supplier to international markets, but disruptions in Russian refining have forced oil companies to turn to imports.

Russia had already banned gasoline exports since March 1 to try to secure enough fuel for its domestic market following repeated Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian refineries since the beginning of the year.

Russia typically imports very little fuel from Belarus, although it turned to it last August-to-October, when it faced a fuel shortage that caused gasoline prices to rise sharply and another Oil product export ban imposed.

This year, Russia has again increased gasoline imports from Belarus, and in the first half of March it reached about 3,000 metric tons, Reuters sources familiar with the data said.

Russia imported 590 tonnes in February, while there were no shipments from Belarus in January.

Two industry sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said further imports were being discussed between governments and oil companies.

One of them said negotiations were difficult because Belarus prefers to export its fuel to international markets.

Another source said the amount of money Russia would need would depend on the timing of the refinery repairs.

Industry sources said Russian oil companies may increase oil supplies to Belarusian refineries in exchange for additional petroleum products to supply to Russia.

Belarus typically exports its oil products to international markets through Russian Baltic ports…

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