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Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary Tap 8 Million Barrels Oil Reserves

Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic are releasing a total of 8 million barrels from their respective strategic petroleum reserves to keep refineries operating after contaminated crude forced the shutdown of the Druzhba pipeline carrying oil from Russia to customers in Europe, industry sources told Reuters on Friday.  

Last week, several countries, including Poland, shut down the flow of Russian crude oil via the 1-million-bpd Druzhba pipeline after traces of contamination were found. 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.

The tainted oil that flew through the Druzhba oil pipeline from Russia to customers in Europe was “deliberately contaminated” at a private terminal, according to Russia’s oil pipeline operator Transneft.

Earlier this week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that Poland had tapped its emergency crude oil stockpiles in order to keep key refineries operating.

The energy ministry of Poland decided to release 500,000 tons of oil from its strategic stocks on April 26, and another 300,000 tons on April 30, a spokeswoman for the ministry told Reuters in an emailed comment on Thursday.

Now it’s up to Poland’s refiners PKN Orlen and Lotos to decide when to use those stocks and how much to draw from them, according to the energy ministry’s spokeswoman.

The Druzhba pipeline shutdown has also impacted deliveries to Germany and Slovakia, but these two countries haven’t decided yet if they would tap into their emergency stockpiles.

Russia said at the end of last week that it expects the Druzhba pipeline to return to full normal deliveries within two weeks, while the state oil company of Belarus, Belneftekhim, said on Thursday that crude oil meeting standards arrived via the Druzhba pipeline at the Belarusian border with Russia on May 2.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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