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Crude volume shipped via Druzhba to return to normal in 2-3 months: Transneft

Moscow — Russian pipeline operator Transneft expects crude volumes shipped via the Druzhba pipeline to Europe to return to normal levels within 2-3 months, vice president Rashid Sharipov said Tuesday.

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Deliveries via the 1 million b/d Druzhba system, which ships Russian oil to Europe via two routes, were suspended in mid-April after excess levels of corrosive organic chlorides were detected in crude flowing into Belarus.

Deliveries resumed to Poland via the Northern branch of the route on Sunday. Transneft had previously announced that shipments had resumed via the Southern route, which runs through Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

The spread of contaminated Urals crude into Europe via Druzhba and the port of Ust-Luga removed at least 30 million barrels from the Atlantic Basin crude market over the past month.

Sharipov also said Tuesday during a conference call with investors and analysts that Transneft was not adjusting total crude shipment plans for 2019 as a result of the incident.

"Between January and May 2019, 198 million mt of oil was shipped. This is compared to 195.7 million mt in January to May 2018. In the same period, shipments via ports increased by 6.5 million mt. As of today we are not making any adjustments to plans for 2019 due to incomplete loading," he said.

Sharipov said that the company will decide by mid-month what to do with contaminated crude returned to Russia from Belarus.

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

-- Edited by Dan Lalor, daniel.lalor@spglobal.com