Hungary’s energy firm MOL and its Slovak oil refiner subsidiary Slovnaft a.s. announced on Wednesday (Aug. 10) they have reached a deal with Ukraine about restarting the flow of Russian oil through the Druzhba pipeline.
Slovak Economy Minister Richard Sulik said the pipeline that takes the commodity to Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, stopped working not because of Russia or Ukraine but due to a technical issue with payments for the transfer, which has since been resolved. Slovakia receives practically all its oil through the Druzhba pipeline. Sulik said the payment is worth some 9–10 million euros (up to $10.2 million).
“I wouldn’t look for a political context behind it, there’s none,” the Associated Press quoted Sulik as saying.
Earlier this week, Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft stated Ukraine has stopped the flow of Russian oil through the Druzhba pipeline but announced on Wednesday it is planning to resume the transfer of oil through the pipeline today at 4:00 pm Moscow time, 3:00 pm CET.
Adviser to Transneft President Nikolay Tokarev, Igor Demin, told RIA Novosti that pumping will first start at the Mikhalki-Brody section, then at the Brody-Budkovtsy one, and then at Feneshlitka. He explained that means Slovakia will be the first one to get oil, and then Hungary will follow.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine, Washington and Brussels have pummelled Moscow with unprecedented sanctions.
EU leaders agreed in May on a political deal to impose sanctions on Russian oil imports. The embargo covers Russian oil brought in by sea but allowed temporary Druzhba pipeline shipments to Hungary and certain other landlocked countries in central Europe, such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Europe is heavily reliant on Russian crude, diesel, natural gas and coal. Energy prices have rallied this year on short supply as Europe scrambles to replace Russian energy with alternative sources.
Hungary is one of the countries most reliant on Russian oil, and its government has been lobbying hard to get exemption from wider EU sanctions on Moscow.
With reporting by Reuters, AP