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Russian crude exports resume via Druzhba pipeline after rocket briefly halts flows


Transneft confirms pumping has restarted after suspension

Druzhba had been supplying 300,000 b/d via southern branch

Crude line supplies refineries in Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic

  • Author
  • Robert Perkins    Rosemary Griffin
  • Editor
  • Jonathan Loades-Carter
  • Commodity
  • Oil
  • Topic
  • Europe Energy Price Crisis War in Ukraine

Russian crude flows have restarted on the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline at below normal levels, Hungary's foreign minster said Nov. 16, following initial repairs to power supplies damaged by Russian rockets that had briefly halted pumping on the export route,

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Russian crude supplies via the southern branch of the pipeline were suspended late Nov. 15, halting flows to refineries in Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, following a barrage of Russian missile attacks targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

"A few minutes ago the transportation of crude oil in the direction of Hungary was restarted on the Druzhba pipeline," Hungary's foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said in a video on Facebook. "For the time being the pressure is still low in the current phase but technical works are being carried out in order to ensure that transportation takes place again at the full normal pressure....I would also like to underline that the security of Hungary's energy supply was not in danger even during the hours when there was no crude oil delivery."

Separately, Russian state pipeline operator Transneft said crude deliveries via Ukraine had resumed at 17:09 Moscow time (1407 GMT).

Russia supplies its Urals crude to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic via the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline running through Ukraine. Russian crude flows on the Druzhba pipeline are exempt from EU sanctions on Russian oil imports due to kick in on Dec. 5.

Although most European refiners supplied by the 1 million b/d Druzhba network have already stopped buying Russian crude in response to the Ukraine war, the southern branch had still been pumping around 300,000 b/d of Urals crude to three plants, according to S&P Global Commodity Insight analysts.

Refinery supplies

The refineries potentially affected by the suspended Druzbha line included Hungary's 165,000 b/d Duna (Danube) refinery, Slovakia's 122,000 b/d Bratislava refinery and the Czech Republic's 108,000 b/d Litvinov refinery, even though most of them could source alternative supplies via other pipelines.

Russian crude flows to the Bratislava refinery had resumed, a spokesperson for MOL-subsidiary Slovnaft confirmed Nov. 16, adding that oil flows to the plant are "in the required volumes and according to the agreed schedule."

"The several-hour outage of the oil pipeline had no effect on the operation of the refinery, and thus on the supply of service stations and wholesale customers," Slovnaft said.

Earlier in the day, Hungary's MOL had said it expected its strategic crude reserves in Hungary to be "sufficient to keep the Danube refinery running until the damage is repaired."

A spokesperson for Mero, the Czech operator of the Druzhba pipeline, had also said that oil 'supplies were still "coming through normally," adding that this did not rule out problems elsewhere on the pipeline route and that company managers were following the situation closely.