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Total Declares Force Majeure On German Refinery After Russian Oil Contamination

France’s Total has halted some of the units at its 230,000-bpd Leuna refinery in Germany to conduct technical checks after contaminated Russian crude oil was found to have flown via an oil pipeline from Russia to European customers. 

The Leuna refinery, which typically receives Russian Urals crude via the Druzhba oil pipeline, is expected to resume operations as early as on Saturday and will use alternative supply via Gdansk in Poland, Reuters quoted the French oil and gas major as saying in a statement on Friday.

“With the continuing problems in connection with the Druzhba pipeline, the capacity of the refinery will remain limited,” Total said.

Last month, Russia halted supplies via the Druzhba oil pipeline to several European countries, including Germany, due to a contamination issue, which the Russians say 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.

According to Russia’s energy ministry, normal deliveries via the pipeline are expected to resume in the second half of May.

The contamination issue with Russian oil pipeline supply will impact European refinery runs to the tune of 250,000 bpd in the second quarter, which is below 2 percent of Europe’s refined oil product demand, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

On Thursday, Total declared force majeure on shipments of refined oil products from the Leuna refinery after the suspension of the oil flow via the Druzhba pipeline.

Russian pipeline operator Transneft will compensate its customers for the losses they have sustained due to the contaminated crude oil, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said on Thursday, noting that refiners must first prove their damage and loss in order to claim compensation.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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