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MOL tests Druzhba oil, puts tainted crude in storage

Hungarian oil and gas company MOL has started to receive Russian oil via the Druzhba pipeline on a test basis at its Hungarian facility, two industry sources told international news wire Reuters.

Illustration: maradon 333/Shutterstock.com

Hungary was one of a number of countries that halted oil imports via the Druzhba, or "Friendship," pipeline late last month after finding contaminants that can damage refinery equipment. One of the sources said organic chloride content in the supplies is still above allowed levels of a maximum norm of 10 parts per million.

MOL plans to test refining equipment with test supplies for now and hopes to restart regular Druzhba intakes from May 17, the sources added. MOL did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment. 

This morning, Hungarian news agency MTI added that MOL is removing 100 kilotonnes of tainted Russian crude from the Druzhba pipeline and putting it in storage. The oil will be treated and mixed with clean oil to make it usable in future, MOL said.

The crude is being removed to accelerate the start of deliveries of clean oil through the pipeline, MOL said, adding that other oil companies affected by the matter are taking similar measures.

An agreement was reached early in May by representatives of Russiaʼs Ministry of Energy and Hungaryʼs MOL, Slovakiaʼs Slovnaft (a MOL subsidiary), Russian pipeline concern Transneft, Slovak pipeline operator Transpetrol, and Ukraineʼs UkrTransNafta on resuming deliveries via the pipeline by the middle of May.

Hungaryʼs government has sanctioned the partial release of national strategic oil reserves to supply MOLʼs refinery in Százhalombatta, southwest of Budapest, for a period of up to two months.