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Clean Russian oil in Druzhba pipeline

Clean Russian oil delivered via the Druzhba pipeline reached the border with Belarus by midday on Monday, five days after European refineries suspended imports because of contamination of oil, international news agency Reuters reported.

As reported last week, Ukraineʼs oil pipeline operator JSC Ukrtransnafta suspended transit shipment of Russian crude oil through the pipeline on Thursday, April 25. Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Slovakia and other countries on the network suspended oil imports via the pipeline after finding high levels of organic chloride, which is used to boost oil output but which must be separated before shipment to avoid damaging refinersʼ processing units.

Hungarian oil and gas company MOL said last Friday it had also decided to temporarily suspend deliveries of crude oil via the Druzhba pipeline. It added that the measure would not affect its refineries as they would continue to be supplied from the Adria oil pipeline and inventories.

"As planned, at 12:00 on April 29 oil... has reached... the Druzhba pipelineʼs Unecha border station," Reuters quoted Ilya Dzhus, spokesman for Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, as saying in a statement.

Belarusian state-run oil company Belneftekhim said that Belarusian refineries were still running at reduced capacity, though Moscow had said it would start pumping clean crude through the Druzhba network from Monday.

Moscow had also said on Friday that it would take two weeks to stabilize supplies across the Druzhba network, Reuters noted, adding that Russia has not specified how it plans to clean out contaminated oil from the whole network.

Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft is investigating the contamination incident, the agency reported, citing Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying on Saturday that this could lead to a wider inquiry, possibly including law enforcement agencies.

Strategic reserves released

Later on Tuesday, Hungarian Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics decided on a partial release of Hungaryʼs strategic oil reserves, making 400,000 tonnes of crude available to MOL, Péter Kaderják, state secretary responsible for energy affairs at the ministry, was cited by state news agency MTI as telling reporters in Budapest.

Thanks to the reserving system and to alternative supplies, Hungaryʼs fuel market is operating undisturbed despite the halt of supplies via the Druzhba pipeline, Kaderják said.

The volume freed up amounts to more than 60% of the strategic crude oil reserves, but is less than 30% of all crude and oil product strategic reserves, he noted.

While MOL is making efforts to increase supplies into the country through the Adria pipeline, the freeing up of reserves was necessary to secure supply of the Százhalombatta refinery, he added.