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German Refinery Halts Russian Oil Imports Again On Poor Crude Quality

Just days after Russia said it had fully resumed oil flows to Europe via the Druzhba pipeline after a major disruption in supplies due to crude contamination in April, a Shell oil refinery in Germany halted imports via the pipeline because, again, slightly higher concentration of organic chlorine was found in the crude, a Shell spokesman told Germany business daily Handelsblatt on Friday.

At the end of April, Russia halted supplies via the Druzhba oil pipeline to several European countries due to a contamination issue, which the Russians said was deliberate.    

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.  

Shell’s refinery PCK in Schwedt, eastern Germany, has stopped importing Russian oil via the Druzhba pipeline again, the company spokesman told Handelsblatt today, just two weeks after normal supply of oil from Russia resumed to the refineries in Schwedt and Leuna in eastern Germany.  

The PCK refinery is in contact with suppliers and pipeline operators to clarify what the cause of the higher organic chlorine level is and how to remedy the situation, Shell’s spokesman told the Germany daily.  

The refinery continues to operate as alternative crude supply has been sourced from the port of Rostock, the spokesman said. 

The Russian oil supply contamination seriously disrupted the refinery operations of some companies in May. Total, for example, halted some of the units at its 230,000-bpd Leuna refinery in Germany to conduct technical checks.  

At the end of May, a month after Russian oil flows through the Druzhba pipeline were suspended due to the contamination, and despite Russia’s assurances that clean oil would resume flowing through the pipeline westward to Europe in the second half of May, analysts and traders said the progress was very slow while costs could be very high.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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