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Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia halt ‘contaminated’ Russian oil imports

Warsaw, Poland – Several EU countries, including Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, have suspended imports of “contaminated” Russian crude oil via the Druzhba pipeline over fears of poor quality.

According to Reuters, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland have all suspended the deliveries of Russian crude oil via the Druzhba pipeline, that runs through Belarus and Ukraine, with the two latter also halting purchases, according to local reports.

Poland’s refiner PKN Orlen said it would receive oil via sea to the Baltic port of Gdansk until deliveries from Russia resume, but analysts argue the Gdansk pipeline’s capacity was too limited to compensate for the supply gap.

Fears over the quality of the Russian crude oil deliveries were sparked last week after the oil was contaminated by an unknown Russian producer with high levels of organic chloride – a substance “used to boost oil output” but that “must be separated before shipment as it can destroy refining equipment”, according to Reuters.

The Druzhba pipeline has been supplying Central Europe with Russian oil since the 1960’s

But on Thursday, Hungary’s MOL oil and gas company said that while “there are concerns regarding the quality of the Russian crude oil on the Northern part of the pipeline”, its quality on the southern part continues to “meet operating standards”, according to the TASS news agency.

This uncommon incident sparked a rare crisis over oil supply in a region that still highly relies on imports from Russia, the world’s second-largest crude exporter, to meet its energy needs.

Druzhba (which means “friendship”) is one of the largest pipelines in the world, with a maximum shipment capacity of 1 million barrels per day. It’s separated into a northern route, which supplies Poland and Germany, and a southern leg for deliveries to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The crisis pushed the prices of crude oil above 75 dollars a barrel for the first time this year.

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