The tainted oil that flew through the Druzhba oil pipeline from Russia to customers in Europe was “deliberately contaminated” at a private terminal, according Russia’s oil pipeline operator Transneft.
The oil was contaminated at the Samaratransneft terminal which receives oil from several small producers, Russia’s TASS news agency reports, citing Transneft’s spokesman Igor Demin as telling reporters.
“Russian law enforcement agencies have initiated a criminal case for oil contamination. The first results show that this contamination was a deliberate act. Now, investigative activities are under way in offices of several private companies in Samara to determine their involvement in the incident,” Demin said, as carried by TASS.
Last week, several countries, including Poland, shut down the flow of Russian crude oil via the Druzhba pipeline after traces of contamination were found.
The problem has strained relations between Moscow and Minsk as Belarus was the first to report the problematic oil in mid-April, warning that it could damage refinery equipment. The oil was contaminated with organic chlorine, a substance used in oil production to boost output but dangerous in high amounts for refining equipment. The amounts of the chemical were found to be at levels much higher than the maximum allowable amount.
On Friday, Russia held talks with Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus over the contamination of its crude oil that had Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Belarus shut down their sections of the Druzhba pipeline earlier in the week.
The discussion focused on a ‘road map’ to remove the tainted oil from the pipeline, Russian deputy energy minister Pavel Sorokin said at the meeting, adding that Russia expects that oil with standard levels of organic chlorine will reach the Russian-Belarusian border by April 29 and that the Druzhba pipeline is expected to return to full normal deliveries within two weeks.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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