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Russia says 'clean' crude to reach the port of Ust-Luga on May 7

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Russia says 'clean' crude to reach the port of Ust-Luga on May 7

Highlights

Belarus says still waiting on clean Urals oil

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Moscow — The Russian energy ministry said late Monday that it expects normal quality crude to enter the port of Ust-Luga on May 7.

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Deliveries to the port have been affected by contamination of crude with excess chlorides in the Russian trunk pipeline system. The problem has also lead to suspension of deliveries to Europe via the 1 million b/d Druzhba pipeline and damage to Belarus' Mozyr refinery.

Earlier Monday, Russia said that the crude reaching its entry point to Belarus through the Druzhba Pipeline is now of export quality, as the nation works to resolve last week's rare but massive contamination of key export blend Urals.

Deliveries through the Druzhba line -- which supplies crude to refineries in Belarus, Poland, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic -- have been halted since last week after high levels of organic chlorides were found in crude delivered to Belarus, affecting its Mozyr refinery.

Russian Urals crude oil flows into Europe

"Crude meeting [the required] standards has reached the bordering entry point at the Unecha station as of 12:00 Moscow time [0900 GMT]," according to Ilya Dzhus, spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, as reported by Prime news agency Monday. Kozak's comment followed an earlier statement Monday from Belarus key refiner, Belneftekhim, that the country was yet to start receiving on-spec Urals barrels via the Druzhba pipeline as had initially been planned.

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Belarus' sections of the Druzhba pipeline have undergone "all technical measures for the earliest possible reception of clean oil from the Russian [entry point of] Unecha," the company said in its statement. "At present, there is still oil with a high level of organic chlorides content in the pipeline on the territory of Belarus. Pumping of pure oil via Druzhba has not started."

Belneftekhim added that a company delegation was flying to Moscow for talks on the matter Monday.

Russia's energy ministry did not comment on the current situation around the Druzhba line.

Key pipeline operators of the Druzhba infrastructure, including those in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Poland, held consultations Friday to find out a way to resolve the problem, after which Kozak, who supervises the Russian energy sector, said that stable supplies of high-quality crude would be restored within two weeks.

The parties have developed a technological plan to eliminate the consequences of the incident, "and fully restore the stable work of the pipeline" within two weeks, Kozak said at the time.

TECHNICAL ISSUES

Russia, meanwhile, is continuing its investigation to identify what caused the unprecedented halt in crude supplies via Druzhba.

The country's biggest oil producer, Rosneft, said the latest analysis conducted jointly with pipeline operator Transneft had proven that its crude pumped into the Druzhba pipeline was meeting all of the appropriate standards.

"Rosneft conducted analysis of arbitration samples of oil handed over by the Rosneft Group into the Samara-Unecha pipeline section for the period from the last decade of March to the end of April 2019. The results of the research confirmed that oil delivered by Rosneft [entities] corresponded fully to the requirements," it said.

The comments came after Transneft said Friday that an initial investigation had indicated the entry point in the Samara region where contaminated crude entered the system. Transneft said several small-sized producers deliver crude via the metering point, handled by a private unit of Samaratransneftterminal.

The private company, however, denied the accusations over weekend, saying that it had sold the terminal a couple of years ago, Russian RBC Daily reported.

(Corrects date in lead)

-- Nadia Rodova, nadia.rodova@spglobal.com

-- Rosemary Griffin, rosemary.griffin@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com