Resumption of oil shipments from Russia to the Czech Republic
Prague (AFP) – Czech pipeline operator Miro said that oil shipments from Russia via an important pipeline to the Czech Republic resumed on Friday after more than a week.
The Czech Republic became the last Central European country after Slovakia and Hungary to receive shipments from the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline after resolving an issue with transit payments.
Russian pipeline operator Transneft said on Tuesday it had halted shipments through the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline, which runs through Ukraine to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The northern terminus of the Druzhba pipeline, which runs through Belarus to Poland and Germany, was not affected.
Transneft cited EU sanctions complications over its August 4 move, saying its payment to the company’s Ukrainian counterpart was denied.
On Wednesday, Slovak refiner Slovnaft made the payment after both Russia and Ukraine agreed to the dissolution. Slovnaft is owned by the Hungarian MOL Energy Group.
But Slovnaft said the deal includes shipments only to Slovakia and Hungary, not to the Czech Republic.
Slovak Economy Minister Richard Solek said the problem was caused by the refusal of an unnamed bank in Western Europe to transfer funds due to the sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russia over its war on Ukraine.
Czech Industry and Trade Minister Josef Kisela said on Friday that authorities had found a way to make the original money transfer possible. He refused to provide details.
Two Czech oil refineries, one of which is in Litvinov which processes Russian oil, are owned by Polish oil and energy giant BKN Orlin.
European Union leaders agreed in May to ban 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 brought by sea, but has allowed temporary shipments through the Druzhba pipeline to Hungary and some other landlocked countries in central Europe, such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
The Czechs get less than half of the oil the country needs through the Druzhba pipeline.
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