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Full resumption of Russian oil transit via Belarus possible by late July

Economy 21.05.2019 | 20:02
Andrei Rybakov
Andrei Rybakov

MINSK, 21 May (BelTA) – It may be possible to resume the transit of Russian oil via Belarus via the Druzhba pipeline system in full by the end of July. In May the transit figure will be less than 7% of the target, BelTA learned from Chairman of the Belarusian state petrochemical concern Belneftekhim Andrei Rybakov on 21 May.

The official said: “Unfortunately, there is still a considerable amount of oil, which doesn't meet the organic chloride standard, in Belarus. About 1.2 million tonnes. It prevents our oil refineries from operating at full capacity in addition to preventing oil transit along the pipeline. One can say we will secure less than 7% of the transit figure we intended to hit in May.”

Mozyr Oil Refinery is now operating at its designed capacity. Naftan's workload is only 65%.

In his words, the Belarusian-Russian roadmap on replacing polluted Russian oil in Belarus with clean oil has to be implemented by the end of July at the latest.

“The entire roadmap has to be implemented by the end of July 2019. It is the deadline. There are technical ways to accelerate the process but we should keep in mind that the [reverse pumping] operation is far from standard, this is why we are approaching it with a certain degree of caution,” Andrei Rybakov said.

In his words, circumstances permitting, the implementation of the measures may be expedited but not by much. In any case the Belarusian side will do its best to resolve the problem within a shorter period of time, the Belneftekhim head promised.

The implementation of the roadmap assumes that there will be no oil with increased concentration of organic chlorides in Belarus at the end of July. “Respectively, we will be completely free to deliver raw materials to our oil refineries and will have the full capability to enable transit flow,” the Belneftekhim head explained.

Andrei Rybakov pointed out that the roadmap contains purely technical measures. It specifies ways to remove poor-quality oil from Belarus' territory, including in reverse mode. “Specialists from both sides have taken care of the technical things. The implementation of the roadmap is actually in progress,” he said.

The oil pipeline system Druzhba delivers oil to Belarusian oil refineries and enables oil transit to Europe via Belarus in two directions – across Poland and Ukraine. On 24 April Poland stopped oil transit via the Druzhba oil pipeline system for an indefinite period of time.

Today the Polish government stated that Russia should bear the financial responsibility for supplies of poor-quality oil via the Druzhba pipeline. According to Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki, Russian suppliers committed some serious logistic and business errors and should answer for them. He remarked that Poland had taken care of the safety of oil deliveries. “We cannot allow our refineries, pipelines, and the entire system to be damaged due to supplies of Russian oil,” Mateusz Morawiecki said. “Complicated negotiations with Russia, Russian companies are now in progress. We will definitely not renounce our terms.”

Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak was earlier quoted as saying that the pumping of pure oil towards Poland will begin on 20 May. However, on 21 May Polish Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski contacted his Russian counterpart with a request to take prompt measures to resume deliveries of clean oil as soon as possible.

On 19 April Belneftekhim registered a massive decrease in the quality of the Russian oil mixture Urals flowing in transit into the main oil pipeline section operated by OAO Polotsktransneft Druzhba. The concentration of chlororganic compounds in oil exceeded standard thresholds dozens of times over. Both Belarusian oil refineries – OAO Naftan and Mozyr Oil Refinery – were forced to reduce their workload and have experienced financial losses.

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