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Russian oil deliveries to Central Europe halted through key pipeline

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Prague, Czech Republic – Deliveries of Russian crude oil through the southern Druzhba pipeline have been halted since August 4, according to Russian supplier Transneft, impacting shipments to several countries in Central Europe.

Flowing through war-torn Ukraine, the southern leg of the “Friendship” pipeline services the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, with a usual amount of about 250,000 barrels a day.

Deliveries were halted earlier this month because of EU sanctions, Transneft claims, preventing Ukraine from being able to process the payment of transit fees.

The closure was later confirmed by Hungary’s MOL and Slovakia’s Transpetrol energy firms.

Czech pipeline operator MERO, for its part, said it expected oil deliveries through Druzhba to resume within days after the issue of transit fees payment is resolved.

“We can confirm that the transportation of oil through the Druzhba pipeline through the territory of the Slovak Republic is currently suspended,” a representative for Transpetrol said in a statement.

Slovak authorities are reportedly in talks with Kyiv and Moscow to enable Hungary’s MOL or Slovakia’s Slovnaft to handle the payment themselves.

The northern route of the Druzhba pipeline, serving Poland and Germany via Belarus, is not affected by the closure.

With limited ability to import oil by sea, all three Central European countries are facing a tough challenge “to secure alternative supply in an already tight oil market,” experts said, as quoted by Reuters.