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The European Union is considering formally banning Russian crude flows via the Druzhba pipeline to Germany and Poland, which have already stopped importing Russia’s crude, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing documents it has seen.
The Druzhba pipeline is a key artery of oil supply from Russia to Europe. It has two branches – a northern one via Belarus to deliver oil to Belarus, Poland, Germany, Latvia, and Lithuania, and a southern one passing through Ukraine and sending oil to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Croatia.
Flows through the Druzhba pipeline are currently exempted from the EU embargo on imports of Russian crude oil by sea that came into effect on December 5. The EU has exempted pipeline oil flows to landlocked EU member states from the ban.
But Germany and Poland stopped imports of Russian crude via the Druzhba pipeline early this year, despite the exemptions made for pipeline crude flows. Germany and Poland have said they would halt imports of Russian crude via the Druzhba pipeline as of January 1, 2023.
Now the EU is weighing ending the exemption for the northern branch of Druzhba to Poland and Germany, as part of the next round of sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, according to the documents Bloomberg has seen.
The pipeline flows via the southern branch to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Croatia would continue to be exempted from the EU embargo on imports of Russian oil.
The proposal for ending the derogation for Germany and Poland would be a symbolic move because Germany and Poland no longer import Russian oil. But a formal ban will need to be endorsed by all 27 members of the European Union. Discussions in the EU on the proposal are still ongoing, and it could still change, according to Bloomberg’s sources.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com