Oil and Gas

UPDATE 1-Russia says it has paid Belarus full compensation for tainted oil -RIA

(Adds comments from Minsk)

MOSCOW, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Russia’s ambassador to Belarus said on Wednesday that Moscow had fully compensated Minsk for the 2019 contaminated oil crisis, Russian news agencies reported, a statement that Belarus subsequently questioned.

Dirty oil showed up in the Druzhba pipeline in April 2019, after which Belarus said it expected compensation of around $60 million from Russia. Last month, it said it had started to receive some payments.

Russian Ambassador Dmitry Mezentsev was cited by the RIA news agency on Wednesday as saying in an interview that Moscow had now paid its dues in full.

“Hearing the request from the Belarusian side, Russia has fulfilled all of its duties,” Mezentsev was cited as saying.

But Belarus’ state energy firm, Belneftekhim, said on Wednesday it has not received full compensation from Russian oil companies for damages incurred as a result of the appearance of dirty oil in the pipeline.

No payments from oil major Rosneft have been made so far, Belneftekhim spokesman Alexander Tishenko was cited by the Interfax news agency as saying. Lukoil has paid the equivalent of $26.3 million, he said.

Rosneft did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Belneftekhim’s Tishenko told Reuters that the firm still expected payments from Rosneft.

However, he said, it did not deny the Russian ambassador’s statement, seeing it instead as a positive signal about possible upcoming payments.

“We believe that the ambassador has information that allows him to say such things,” Tishenko said. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Polina Ivanova in Moscow Editing by Jason Neely and Matthew Lewis)