Bad oil: Russia dirtied tubes Europe

By | May 7, 2019

Belarus scandals, because they do not want deeper integration with Riskanal around dirty Russian oil delivered to Europe through the pipeline “Druzhba”, is growing like a snowball. On the evening of April 24, Polish operator PERN S. A. stated that it could no longer receive contaminated oil from the pipeline “Gomeltransneft Druzhba” — the Belarusian section of the pipeline — “endangering the Polish infrastructure and refinery”.

“According to reports received from our customers, not one oil refinery, located on the oil pipeline “Friendship”, not ready to take on their installations and to process oil with such indicators, with which it currently comes in point of reception of supplies in Empress,” — said in a letter to PERN in the name of the Vice-President “Transneft” Sergey Andronov.

“The continued supply of oil with organic chloride content above the limit… gives rise to the risk of a serious industrial accident for both the refinery and the Pern logistics system,” the Polish company said in a letter.

As a result — the pipeline to the West of Mozyr has been stopped by the Belarusian side, and the transportation of Russian oil to Poland has been stopped for an indefinite period.

The statement on the website of PERN says that Poland will again begin to accept Russian oil when the source of pollution is eliminated, and in the case of a long shutdown of the oil pipeline, Poland will be able to buy oil through the sea terminal in Gdansk. According to the Belarus 1 TV channel, more than a million tons of contaminated oil from Russia have accumulated in the Belarusian section of the Druzhba pipeline. According to him, “hundreds of thousands of tons” of chlorine-contaminated “poisonous” oil came to Belarus and the European Union (EU) because of “negligence”.

It is also noted that Belarus held talks on this issue with the Russian side. “Alas, the Russian partners could not give any answer about how they are going to resolve the situation. There is no answer to the problem of displacement of poisonous oil from the tanks of the Belarusian section of “Friendship”, – stressed on the channel.

For its part, Transneft reported that it had discovered the source of pollution at the Samara-Unecha site, was able to partially resume transportation of “clean” oil, and that the parties are now discussing the issue of compensation.

Recall, on April 19, the state concern “Belneftekhim” reported that the pipeline from Russia receives oil, in which the content of organochlorine compounds exceeds the permissible values tenfold. In this regard, both Belarusian refineries — Mozyr oil refinery (Gomel region) and Naftan (Vitebsk region) reported the threat of equipment damage and reduced oil refining volumes by almost 50%. As a result, Belarus “forcedly suspended” the export of light oil products to Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States.

According to experts, Minsk is deliberately inflating the scandal, in the hope of still getting the Kremlin to compensate for losses from the tax maneuver, which is carried out by Russia.

Until recently, Belarus received Russian oil duty-free, at Russian domestic prices, and earned good money on its processing and further sale to the West of gasoline and diesel fuel — already at European prices. And now — the shop began to close: in 2019-2024 by the decision of the government of the Russian Federation gradually increases the tax rate on mining, and this deprives Minsk of the usual piece of cake.

How seriously did Russia fly in with “dirty” oil, how great is the damage caused by Transneft to its partners?

— From the production point of view, there is nothing complicated in the current situation — it is a pure policy, — said the Dean of the faculty of international energy business of RSUH of oil and gas. I. M. Gubkina Elena Telegina. — Of course, when the chlorine content in oil rises, there is nothing good in it. But it is difficult to imagine that the concentration of chlorine for no reason has increased tenfold — as the Belarusian side claims. Small deviations may be — but this is, in principle, normal.

“SP”: — Belarusians and poles say that chlorine can damage refineries…

— Nothing will be damaged there.

“SP”: — do you really need to oust a Million tons of dirty oil from the Belarusian section of Druzhba, or can it be processed?

— Such oil, of course, needs to be cleaned before it is processed. But this is a technological process that is set up at any modern refinery. To clean chlorinated oil in the plant, no special effort is needed.

“SP”: — That is, the damage is really, according to the Director of the national energy security Fund Konstantin Simonov, fit “a few tens of millions, and rubles”?

— Belarusian refineries do not have nozzles and systems that ensure high purification from heavy sulfur compounds — they need to invest in production to process chlorinated oil. It’s quite expensive.

“SP”: — Do Polish refineries have such equipment?

— Yes, you should have. All refineries, reconstructed over the past 10 years, are set for deep cleaning and processing. According to the standards of the European Union — the market in which all refined products are sold — there should be a high purification.

I would like to note that this is why all Russian refineries have been rebuilt and supplied with modern cleaning equipment.

“SP”: — That is, for Russian refineries to process “dirty” oil would not be difficult?

— No, you wouldn’t. And for Polish — too, and without any additional costs. Poland is a member of the EU, and environmental standards oblige Polish refineries to have appropriate equipment.

Again, refining dirty oil is not a question of technology. These are political things.

— Belarusians are trying to get a discount from Transneft, — said Nikita Maslennikov, a leading expert of the Center for political technologies. — However, in practice, it may come out differently. Minsk has successfully launched a scandal over “dirty” oil and even increased the degree of anti-Russian statements. But now he can “get” himself — on the tough claims from Warsaw. This scenario is quite in the spirit of the political logic of the poles — to make the most of the situation. In addition, from the point of view of business, these claims are quite natural and fair: once the “dirty” oil came from Belarus, and the Belarusians did not track the situation in time — they should be responsible for it.

Why Belarusians such disassembly with Poland — I do not know. Unless they with poles behind the scenes agreed, and now continue to press on Russia.

For us, this situation is unpleasant. Oil pollution with chlorine has taken place, and we do not refuse it. But the main problem is that all this is happening in the context of heightened emotional relations between Moscow and Minsk, and not related to the oil and gas sector.

It should be understood that the reasoning that Belarus will suffer from the tax maneuver of the Russian Federation is not quite a bona fide argument. We have already compensated these losses to Belarusians by opening credit lines — and now Minsk is asking for an additional loan of $ 600 million.

The key problem is not oil, but deeper integration. Recently, it was reported that Moscow has submitted its proposals to Minsk in this regard, and they are being studied by the Belarusian side. The Kremlin is waiting for a reaction and refrains from comments. Apparently, the emotions of Minsk, including the “dirty” oil — an attempt to influence the Russian integration position.

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