Druzhba pipeline leak reduces Russian oil flow to Germany

WARSAW (Reuters) – Germany said on Wednesday it was receiving less oil but still had enough supplies after Poland found a leak in the Druzhba pipeline that takes crude from Russia to Europe, which Warsaw said may have resulted from an accident rather than sabotage.

The discovery of the spill on the main route carrying oil to Germany, which operator PERN said Tuesday night, comes as Europe is on high alert about its energy security as it faces a severe crisis in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Cut off the gas supply.

“The security of supplies in Germany is currently guaranteed,” a spokesman for the Economy Ministry said in an emailed statement. He added that “the refineries in Schwedt and Leona are still receiving crude oil through the Druzhba pipeline.”

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The Schwidt refinery, which supplies 90% of Berlin’s fuel, said in an email statement that deliveries are being made at reduced capacity.

Germany said it hopes to have more information soon from Poland about the cause of the leak and how to fix it.

Europe has been on high alert over energy infrastructure security since major leaks were discovered last month in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines that run from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea. Both the West and Russia blamed the sabotage.

However, Mateusz Berger, Poland’s chief official for energy infrastructure, told Reuters by phone that the leak in the Druzhba pipeline was likely due to “accidental damage”.

“We live in turbulent times, there are various possible indications, but at this point we have absolutely no reason to believe it,” he said in response to a question about the possibility of sabotage.

Berger said the leak was located 70 km west of Blok, where Poland’s largest refinery, owned by BKN Orleen, is located. As a result, part of the shipping capacity towards Germany was not available, he said, adding that repairs “probably won’t take long.”

PERN said supplies to Germany have been reduced but are continuing.

Reuters graphics

German and Poland refinery supplies

The Druzhba oil pipeline, whose name in Russian means “friendship”, is one of the largest pipelines in the world, supplying most Central European countries with Russian oil including Germany, Poland, Belarus, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria.

Russia’s state-owned pipeline monopoly Transneft said oil continues to be pumped toward Poland.

PKN Orlen Polish (PKN.WA) The company said oil supplies to the Blok refinery were not interrupted, while Czech pipeline operator Miro said it had not seen any change in flows to the Czech Republic.

“The main action (we are taking) is to pump out the liquid, locate the leak and stop it,” fire brigade spokesman Karol Kerzkowski told state TVBinfo.

“When the pressure drops it will stop the leak and allow us to get to the leak,” he said, adding that it was too early to determine the cause and there was no danger to the public.

Firefighters in Poland’s north-central Kujawsko-Pomorskie region said they pumped about 400 cubic meters of oil and water from the leak site, which was in the middle of a cornfield.

PERN said the second line of the pipeline and other elements of PERN’s infrastructure are operating as usual.

“At this point, all PERN services (technical, operational, indoor fire brigade and environmental protection) are taking action according to the algorithms available for this type of situation,” the operator said.

The total capacity of the western section of the pipeline that ships oil from central Poland to Germany is 27 million tons of crude oil annually.

Germany’s Schwedt refinery is particularly dependent on Drogba.

The German government aims to cancel oil imports from Russia by the end of the year under EU sanctions. But in the first seven months of the year, Russia was still its largest supplier, accounting for just over 30% of oil imports.

As Germany searches for alternative supplies for Schwedt, Druzhba could be useful in supplying oil through the Polish port of Gdansk.

The German government is also in talks to secure oil from Kazakhstan to supply Schwedt, but this oil must flow to Germany through the Druzhba pipeline as well.

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Reporting from the Reuters offices by Alan Sharlish and Marek Strzelecki; Editing by Jean Harvey and Elaine Hardcastle

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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