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Russia removed 2 million tonnes of tainted Druzhba oil

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | May 24, 2019
Druzhba pipeline
Russia   Druzhba pipeline

Russia is using rail, storage tanks and ships to remove contaminated oil from an export pipeline, and has so far extracted around 2 million tonnes of the tainted oil or over a third of volumes hit, industry sources and data showed.

A month ago, Russia had to stop exports via the Druzhba pipeline to Poland and Germany at the northern branch of the line and to Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the south. Routes split at the Mozyr refinery in Belarus.

A total of around 5 million tonnes could have been contaminated by organic chloride, which is used to boost oil extraction, according to the Belarusian operator of a section of the Druzhba pipeline, and up to six months are needed to fully restore the flows.

Russia, Belarus and Ukraine still have the lion’s share of contaminated crude in their pipeline systems or up to 2 million tonnes, with another roughly 1 million stuck in Poland and Germany, according to the traders and industry sources.

Efforts inside Russia and Belarus to get the tainted oil out of the pipeline are critical because until it is removed, normal flows or clean oil to export markets cannot resume.

Russia is attempting the clean-up by a number of means.

Since the start of May, Russia is sending some tainted oil by rail to the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk which was not affected by the contamination, where it is mixed with clean oil and then exported.


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