The flow of Russian oil through the Druzhba pipeline, which supplies several Central European countries via Ukraine, has been paralyzed since August 4. Transneft, the Russian public company in charge of the pipelines, alleges that the cause is the difficulty that Russia has in paying Ukraine the transit fees due to international sanctions and points out that Ukraine has refused to continue with the supply if receives the funds. A spokeswoman for Naftogaz, the Ukrainian state-owned energy company, has stated that the company will publish a statement on the matter on Tuesday.
The affected countries are Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which received an exception to the Russian oil embargo approved by the European Union as part of its sanctions on Moscow. Transit through the northern branch of the same pipeline, which goes to Germany and Poland, proceeds normally.
Journalist and subject matter expert Javier Blas has stated on Twitter that, so far, the affected countries “are treating the interruption of the Druzhba pipeline as a technical problem”. “It may be true, but now it is impossible to know. We know that Russia has in the past used ‘technical problems’ to create permanent changes”.
“The transport of oil through the Druzhba pipeline was interrupted a few days ago since, according to information, there were technical problems in relation to the transit payment by the Russian side,” the Hungarian oil company MOL told EFE. “Although MOL has enough reserves for several weeks, it is working on a solution and has also started negotiations to take over the obligation to pay the fee,” the company added. Hungary buys 60% of the crude oil and 85% of the gas it uses from Russia.
Russia’s Transneft has said that transit payments to Ukraine for August were made on July 22, but that the money was returned on July 28 due to EU restrictions and that alternative payment systems are being considered.
As quoted by ReutersRussia, which is the world’s second-largest oil and gas exporter, has already cut gas flows to many EU countries citing problems with turbine maintenance on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.