Poland's recent actions on the oil and gas market are "theater of the absurd," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday, commenting on reports that Polish refiner PKN Orlen had applied to receive oil from Russia via the Druzhba pipeline next year, despite Poland's pledge to stop importing Russian crude.
Last month, Russian business daily Kommersant reported, citing sources, that PKN Orlen applied to Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft to receive 3 million tons of Russian oil via the Druzhba pipeline in 2023 under long-term contracts. Orlen stopped buying Russian crude oil on the spot market in March, but has continued to import Russian crude via the Druzhba pipeline - not subject to the EU embargo on imports from Russia - under long-term contracts with Russian firms Rosneft and Tatneft.
Transneft's Vice President Sergey Andronov told Kommersant at the time that the firm had received an application from customers in Poland to supply oil in 2023 via the link through Belarus, but didn't specify who the customers were or what volumes they had requested.
Talking to reporters in Uzbekistan on Friday, Russia's Novak said, as carried by Russian news agency TASS, "What they are doing is a theater of the absurd.
The Russian official neither confirmed nor denied the reports that the Polish refiner had requested to receive oil supply from Russia via pipeline next year. Novak himself has found out about this from media reports, he said.
Commenting on Kommersant's report, PKN Orlen's press office told Reuters that "PKN Orlen has consistently diversified its oil supplies. Currently 70% of oil to all the company's refineries in Poland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania comes from alternative directions to Russian (sic)."
"The company is currently continuing only the long-term contracts for deliveries to Poland from this direction (Russia)," the refinery's office said, noting it had stopped all Russian oil imports via sea.
The EU embargo from December 5 doesn't apply to pipeline oil deliveries to the mostly landlocked countries in central and eastern Europe.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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