Russian oil flows to Czech Republic have resumed, pipeline operator says

PRAGUE, Aug 12 (Reuters) – Russian oil flows to the Czech Republic through the Druzhba pipeline resumed after more than a week on Friday evening, Czech pipeline operator MERO said, as transit fee payments were unblocked.

Supplies via the Druzhba pipeline had been suspended to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia since Aug. 4 because Western sanctions prevented paying transit fees to Ukrainian transit company Ukrtransnafta, Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft said on Tuesday.

A European bank has agreed to process the payment for the transit of Russian oil through Ukraine, removing the cause of the stoppage. read more

“Supplies of Russian oil through the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline on the Czech territory resumed at 8 p.m. today,” MERO said in a statement.

Czech refiner Unipetrol, a unit of Poland’s PKN Orlen (PKN.WA), confirmed its refineries again started receiving oil through Druzhba, and added the week-long outage had not affected its operations.

Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela said earlier that the resumption followed a resolution of the issue with fees.

“We have found a way to unblock the transit fee payment for oil deliveries and its shipment through the Druzhba will resume soon,” Sikela said on Twitter.

“The disruption did not affect the functioning of Czech refineries or the fuel market,” he added.

The Czech Republic covers roughly half of its oil consumption from Russia.

Flows to Hungary and Slovakia were restarted on Wednesday after Hungary’s refiner MOL (MOLB.BU) and its Slovak unit Slovnaft found a workaround by paying the fee to Ukrtransnafta themselves.

Central European countries are partially dependent on Russian oil and largely dependent on Russian gas, and have secured exemptions from the European Union’s incoming ban on imports of Russian oil until they adjust their shipping routes and refineries so that they can take other oil.

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