Resumption of halted shipments of Russian oil to Slovakia | Economic news

PRAGUE (AP) — Oil shipments from Russia through a critical pipeline to several European countries have resumed after a payment issue for transit was resolved, Slovakian Economy Minister Richard Sulik said Wednesday.

“The oil is already on Slovak territory,” Sulik said on Facebook. He gave no further details.

But no oil has yet reached the neighboring Czech Republic, the country’s Mero pipeline operator said, and Hungary was also due to receive deliveries on Wednesday evening.

Russian gas pipeline operator Transneft said on Tuesday it halted shipments through the southern branch of the Druzhba, or Friendship, pipeline that runs through Ukraine to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The northern branch of the Druzhba gas pipeline, which crosses Belarus to Poland and Germany, was not affected, Transneft said.

Transneft cited complications from European Union sanctions for its Aug. 4 action, saying its payment to the company’s Ukrainian counterpart was denied.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sulik said the payments would be made by Slovakian refiner Slovnaft after the Russian and Ukrainian sides agreed on the solution. Slovnaft belongs to the Hungarian energy group MOL.

MOL confirmed that the money had been transferred.

Slovakia receives virtually all of its oil through the Druzhba pipeline. Sulik said the payout was worth around 9-10 million euros (up to $10.2 million).

He said his country would work on a long-term solution to the problem which he said was caused by the refusal of an anonymous bank in Western Europe to transfer the money due to EU sanctions imposed on Russia. for his war against Ukraine.

“I wouldn’t look for any political context behind it, there isn’t,” Sulik said.

However, Simone Tagliapietra, an energy expert at the Bruegel think tank in Brussels, said Russia had weaponized natural gas is heading to Europe alleging technical issues, and “raises questions as to whether it could now do the same with oil.”

Russia blamed equipment repairs for its decision to residual flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany, whose government called it a political move aimed at creating uncertainty and driving up prices amid the war in Ukraine.

EU leaders agreed in May embargo on most Russian oil imports by the end of the year as part of the bloc’s sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The embargo covers Russian oil transported by sea, but allowed temporary shipments by Druzhba pipeline to Hungary and some other landlocked countries in central Europe, such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

“These countries are very dependent on Russian oil and as such could face short-term shortages if the disruption were to last,” Tagliapietra said.

Some Hungarian drivers were anticipating this on Wednesday, prompting MOL to appeal to the public to ask customers to cut back on fuel purchases.

“At the moment, I always try to fill the tank of my car so as not to run out of fuel. And then we’ll see,” said Erzsebet Kovacs, a motorist.


Courtney Bonnell in London and video journalist Bela Szandelszky in Budapest, Hungary contributed.


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