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The European Union is discussing the idea of temporarily exempting Russian oil supply via the Druzhba pipeline from a ban on imports of Russia's crude, as leaders are trying to persuade Hungary to drop its opposition to an embargo, Bloomberg reported on Friday, quoting sources with knowledge of the discussions.
Some EU leaders are inclined to accept an exemption of Russian oil deliveries via the pipeline that delivers oil to Germany and several central European countries, including Hungary—if indeed this is the price for getting Hungary on board with an oil embargo on seaborne imports of Russian oil, the sources say.
The temporary exemption could give Hungary more time to draft a plan on how to phase out Russian oil imports, according to Bloomberg's sources.
EU member states continue to discuss options for reaching a deal—which needs to be unanimous—on an embargo on imports of Russian oil.
In early May, the European Commission officially proposed a full ban on Russian crude and oil product imports, to come into effect by the end of the year. But the EU is still scrambling to find a common position, trying to persuade Hungary to drop its opposition to an embargo.
Hungary—whose Prime Minister Viktor Orban held close ties with Putin before the Russian invasion of Ukraine—has said it would need hundreds of millions of dollars to adapt its refining and pipeline industry to accommodate a stop to Russian oil imports.
This week, top Hungarian officials said the country is unwilling to discuss the potential ban at the EU summit on May 30 and 31.
EU diplomats had hoped that the summit could reach a unanimous decision on a ban on Russian oil, to be phased out over six months and with exemptions for central European countries, including Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
However, Orban asked in a letter to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, that the oil embargo be removed from the topics of discussion at the summit, according to the document dated March 23 and obtained by Reuters.
On Wednesday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that if the ban is on the agenda next week, it "would run the serious danger of dismantling European unity," Argus reported.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.