Belarus Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources, energy and environment

Belarus (Belarus) is relatively poor in natural resources with the exception of mainly peat and potash (potassium carbonate). For its energy supply, the country is dependent on imports of natural gas from Russia.

The pot ash is mainly used in the production of fertilizers and is one of the country’s few commercially viable minerals. Otherwise, there are small deposits of brown coal, limestone, rock salt, sand and clay. Belarus also has valuable forests of oak, elm, maple and beech.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Belarus with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

The peat is used for heating, in electric power plants and in the manufacture of chemical products. Belarussian peat assets accounted for more than 40 percent of the former Soviet Union’s reserves. However, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine in 1986 made large parts of the peat unusable.

Natural gas accounts for almost the entire energy supply. There is some own extraction of gas and oil, but it is not long enough to meet their own needs. Over 90 percent of the energy is imported from Russia, which has given Belarus favorable prices, among other things, in exchange that part of the profit Belarus makes on oil recovery would accrue to Russia.

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In 2007, the subsidies were phased out. The gas price was raised substantially, which led to a payment crisis and the Belarussian government had to sell shares in important energy companies to Russian companies (see Economic overview). Belarus has continued to receive relatively cheap gas and oil from Russia, but due to falling oil prices on the world market, the difference between Russia’s price and the world market price has decreased. Since Russia uses oil supplies as a political pressure vehicle, Belarus has highlighted its dissatisfaction by starting to buy oil from Norway and Saudi Arabia. Lukashenko’s goal is for at least 60 percent of the need to be met through imports from countries other than Russia.

In the spring of 2019, the relations were also disturbed by the contamination of the Druzhba oil pipeline with substances that make the oil difficult to refine, a problem even for recipient countries other than Belarus. According to Russian data, the pollution arose. Russia and Belarus agreed on an expensive and time-consuming purification of the leadership.

The oil is mainly refined and exported, while most of the gas is used for electricity production. Electricity imports also occur. Belarus has two oil refineries.

In order to reduce dependence on energy imports, Belarus is building a nuclear reactor with two reactors, close to the border with Lithuania and Poland. It is financed through loans from Russia.

The all-encompassing environmental problem is the consequences of the Chernobyl accident. As much as 70 percent of the radioactive fallout ended up in Belarus. The southern and south-eastern parts were particularly hard hit. The effects on the environment are still unclear. About a fifth of the country is estimated to be polluted; In many places, groundwater, farmland and livestock still contain far too high levels of radioactivity. Over two million people were directly affected by the accident and most of them still live on dirty land.

The UNESCO World Heritage List contains the Belovezhskaya Pushtja National Park. The forest area that is shared with Poland is best known in Sweden as the Białowieża forest. The Polish part was classified as World Heritage in 1979 and the World Heritage was expanded in 1992 with the Belarussian part.


Energy use per person

2,929 kilograms of oil equivalent (2014)

Electricity consumption per person

3680 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

63 498 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

6.7 tons (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

6.8 percent (2015)



Attorneys are sentenced to death

The two who were charged with the blast attack in Minsk metro are sentenced to death. According to prosecutors, they have committed themselves to trying to destabilize society.


More sanctions from the EU

The EU decides to further tighten its sanctions on Belarus, and calls for the Belarusian regime to release political prisoners. The day after, the former presidential candidate Dmitry Uss is released, who is reported to be morbid (see May). Opposition activist Kastus Zjukowski is released with a broken leg and testifies to torture in the detention.


Imprisoned are pardoned

Lukashenko pardons 13 of the 41 people sentenced to prison for participation in the protests following the presidential election.

MR activist arrested for tax evasion

Human rights activist Ales Bjaljatski is arrested, suspected of tax evasion, after authorities discovered he has accounts in Lithuania and Poland. The money belongs to the organization Vjasna, which oversees the regime’s handling of opposition supporters. A few months later, Bjaljatski is sentenced in November 2011 to four and a half years in prison.

Charter 97 editor seeks asylum in Lithuania

Natalja Radina, editor of the opposition movement Charta 97’s website, seeks asylum in Lithuania. She has been in Belarusian prison but managed to escape via Russia.


Police violence against protesters

Between 300 and 400 protesters are arrested in various parts of the country, following so-called silent demonstrations as people follow social media calls to protest Lukashenko’s handling of the economic crisis. The police are progressing hard, with abuse and tear gas.


Many arrested after demonstrations

More than 70 people are arrested in several cities following calls on the internet. In Minsk, around 1,000 people are gathered to protest, despite the police being blocked off by the October Square.

Later, more than 200 people are arrested in connection with another demonstration. Among them are many journalists and a Swedish diplomat, who is released.

Russian electricity trading company stops export

A Russian electricity trading company shuts down electricity exports to Belarus, due to unpaid bills.

Gasoline prices are rising

The gasoline price is increased by 12.5 percent. Initially, a 30 percent increase was announced, but it triggered protests – among other things, motorists in Minsk showed their dissatisfaction by honking.


Another devaluation

The deep crisis of the economy is forcing the regime into a new, powerful devaluation of the ruble.

Presidential candidates receive prison

Former presidential candidate Andrej Sannikau is sentenced to five years in prison for his protests against cheating in the presidential election. His wife, the journalist Irina Chalip, receives two years’ conditional imprisonment for participating in the post-election demonstrations. The two former presidential candidates Mikola Statkevich and Dmitry Uss are sentenced to six and five and a half years in prison respectively for organizing protests. Sannikau is pardoned and released just under a year later, in April 2012.


Explosion in Minsk’s subway

An explosive charge explodes in the Minsk subway. Fifteen people die and at least 200 are injured. Two people arrested are charged with terrorism.


The ruble is devalued

The central bank decides on a new devaluation of the ruble, by 10 percent (see also January 2009).

MR activist flies

Journalist and civil rights activist Natalja Radina, who is accused of involvement in the mass protests and has been detained, manages to escape from the country. At the same time, activist Mikita Lichavid is said to have launched a hunger strike in protest of her prison sentence of three and a half years for participation in the demonstrations following the presidential election.

Young front leader sentenced to prison

The leader of the Young Front, Zmitser Dasjkevich, and the Front’s local chairman in Minsk, Eduard Lobaw, are sentenced to two and four years in security prison accused of hooliganism. They have been detained since the day before the presidential election, when they allegedly attacked two people with violence.

Politicians are seeking asylum in the Czech Republic

Former presidential candidate Ales Mikhailevich is fleeing Belarus and seeking asylum in the Czech Republic. He states that he has been tortured in custody, and was forced in writing to cooperate with the security police to be released.


Regime critics are sentenced to prison

28-year-old regime critic Vasilij Parfenkov is sentenced to four years in prison for participating in demonstrations in connection with the presidential election. It is the first longer sentence after the unrest; several hundred people were sentenced to up to 15 days immediately following the protests.


The EU and the US announce sanctions

The EU and the US announce that new sanctions will be introduced against Belarus following the harsh action against opposition supporters following the presidential election (see Foreign Policy and Defense).

Belarus Energy and Environment Facts

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