The chemical and petrochemical sector is one of the most important in the Belarusian economy, accounting for over 12% of GDP. It is an invaluable source of foreign exchange with almost 20% of all exports coming from the sector.
It is heavily dominated by the state, with the vast majority of enterprises in government ownership. However, in order to upgrade productivity and profitability, Belarus is very keen to attract foreign partners and investors.
Over 40% of the crude oil exported to the EU from Russia flows through Belarus and much of it is refined in the republic en route. Two of the major refineries, Mozyr and Naftan are scheduled for privatisation in the near future.
The government is also looking to privatize the 1800 mile long Belarusian section of the Druzhba pipeline, which carries oil from Russia to Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Ukraine.
As well as the petrochemical sector, Belarus has a highly profitable chemicals industry, mainly producing fertilisers (predominantly potash-based) and chemical fibres such as polyamide, polyester, acrylic and viscose.
Most of this production is overseen by Belneftekhim, a state-run conglomerate of 75 companies. As part of the privatisation programme, and to attract foreign investment, six of Belneftekhim’s biggest enterprises have been restructured into open joint-stock companies, including the tyre producer Belshina and Polimir, a chemical fibres manufacturer with a foreign trade turnover of US $400 million.