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Belarus is reducing the flow of oil via the Druzhba pipeline from Russia to Poland for three days due to "unplanned maintenance" while the migrant crisis on the Belarus-Poland border escalates.
Belarusian operator Gomeltransneft Druzhba has limited the pumping of oil through the Druzhba pipeline from Russia to Europe, which crosses Belarus because of unscheduled repair works on one of the branches, Igor Demin, a representative of Russia's Transneft pipeline monopoly, told reporters on Wednesday, as carried by Russian news agency TASS.
The Druzhba oil pipeline carries oil to Belarusian oil refineries and then via two branches to Ukraine and the EU member states of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Polish pipeline operator PERN said on Wednesday that it had been informed by Transneft that oil flows to Poland and Germany would be "slightly reduced" and there would be no change in the monthly volume of deliveries. Poland's crude oil system is fully secured and operational, the operator added.
The reduction of oil flows to Poland and Germany takes place amid rising tensions on the Belarus-Poland border, where violence erupted on Tuesday in clashes between migrants and Polish border guards.
The EU said on Monday it was broadening the scope for sanctions against Belarus "to tackle hybrid attacks and instrumentalisation of migrants."
"The EU will now be able to target individuals and entities organising or contributing to activities by the Lukashenko regime that facilitate illegal crossing of the EU's external borders," the EU said.
Last week, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko threatened to halt natural gas supply at the key Yamal pipeline from Russia to Germany passing through Belarus if the European Union imposes additional sanctions on the country in response to the migrant crisis at the Belarus-Poland border.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, however, was quick to respond to the threat. Putin said Lukashenko had not consulted Moscow on the issue, and if he did, he risked a response from the Russian side.
Despite the threats by Lukashenko, German authorities reported that gas flows via the Yamal pipeline had actually increased over the weekend.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com