Iran’s media say the country has delivered a major cargo of crude oil to Belarus through a key port in southern Ukraine.
Iran’s IRNA news agency reported that a tanker carrying 600,000 barrels of oil had docked at the Port of Odessa.
The news agency quoted a Belarusian official as saying that the oil was being discharged from the tanker and was slated for processing at the nation’s Mozyr oil refinery.
Reuters reported in mid-February that Belarus’s Bel Oil had purchased 80,000 tons – equal to 600,000 barrels – of Iranian Light and Heavy crude oil from National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for loading later in the same month.
Bel Oil was expected to ship the Iranian crude oil to either the Black Sea port of Odessa or the Baltic port of Ventspils for rail transportation to Belarus, the report added. The logistics for this were yet to be agreed.
Belarus’ reported purchase of oil from Iran came as the country is trying to look for alternative crude oil supplies after Russia cut exports to the country in 2016 over a gas price row between the two countries.
Russia cut crude oil exports to Belarus to 18 million tons in 2016 from an initial planned 24 million. Since early 2016, Russia and Belarus had been unable to reach an agreement concerning how much Belarus should pay for Russian gas and the conditions for cooperation in the oil sector, other agencies reported.
In October 2016, the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced that Belarus was in talks with Iran on supplies of oil.
"We have been in talks with Iran which is trying to expand its oil market and offers lower prices," Lukashenko told the country's parliamentarians.
Following Lukashenko’s remarks, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in December 2016 that Iran was considering cooperation with Belarus in oil industry equipment manufacturing and also oil trade.