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Minsk wants oil tit-for-tat with Moscow

Oct. 16, 2012 at 9:37 AM

MINSK, Belarus, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- The Belarusian president said Tuesday he'd allow Russian companies to invest in domestic refineries in exchange for access to Russian oil and gas fields.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday that his country could produce around 350 billion cubic feet of natural gas in Russia if allowed access to its deposits. He said his country imports around 420 billion cubic feet of natural gas from Russia each year.

He questioned why the Kremlin allowed U.S. and British companies access to Russian oil and natural gas fields but kept Belarus sidelined.

"We can give you factories and you (Russia) give us a possibility to extract this oil," he was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying. "We'll work better than your companies do and you'll never present claims to us for any oil spills or fires."

The Kremlin this year said planned maintenance at domestic refineries caused shortages in the retail gasoline market. The government said it aims to invest about $10 billion on refinery development during the next five years.

Belarus, for its part, refined around 160 million barrels of crude oil at its facilities last year.

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