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Druzhba pipeline leak reduces Russian oil flow to Germany

Germany said it was receiving less oil but still has adequate supplies after Poland discovered a leak in the Druzhba pipeline which delivers crude from Russia to Europe. Polish authorities say the leak was probably caused by an accident as opposed to sabotage.

“Security of supply in Germany is currently guaranteed. The refineries in Schwedt and Leuna continue to receive crude oil via the Druzhba pipeline,” a German Economy Ministry spokesperson said.

Germany said it was hoping for more information soon from Poland about the cause of the leak and how it can be repaired.

The Schwedt refinery, which supplies 90 percent of Berlin’s fuel, said deliveries were taking place but at reduced capacity.

All potential causes of the leak are being considered, a spokesman for the Polish security services, Stanisław Żaryn said.

The top official in charge of Poland’s energy infrastructure, Mateusz Berger, informed it was most likely “accidental damage”, explaining that there is at this stage “no grounds at all” to believe it was sabotage. Berger said the leak was located 70 km west of Płock, where Poland’s biggest refinery owned by PKN Orlen is located. As a result, part of the pipeline’s capacity for Germany was not available, he said, adding that repairs should likely “not take long”.

Firefighters in the mid-northern Kujawsko-Pomorskie region of Poland said they had pumped about 400 cubic metres of oil and water from the site, which is in the middle of a cornfield.

The discovery of the damage to the main route carrying oil to Germany, which operator PERN said happened on Tuesday evening, comes as Europe is on high alert over its energy security in the aftermath of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine which has seen cuts in supplies of gas. Drone footage shows a black stain of oil from the underground pipeline spreading across farmland at the site of the leak, surrounded by fire engines and other emergency teams.

European authorities are also concerned over the security of its energy infrastructure since major leaks were found last month in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines running from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea. Both the West and Russia have blamed sabotage.

Russian oil still supplies Europe

The Druzhba oil pipeline is one of the world’s largest, supplying Russian oil to much of central Europe including Germany, Poland, Belarus, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria. Russia’s Transneft state-owned pipeline monopoly said it was continuing to pump oil towards Poland.

Poland’s PKN Orlen said that supplies to its Plock refinery were not interrupted while Czech pipeline operator MERO had not seen any change in flows to the Czech Republic.

The total capacity of the western section of both lines that carry oil from central Poland to Germany is 27 million tonnes of crude oil per year.

Germany’s Schwedt refinery, which serves Berlin, will struggle most if Druzhba supplies are interrupted as it has few alternative options to service its crude needs. The German government aims to eliminate imports of oil from Russia by the end of the year under European Union sanctions. But in the first seven months of the year, Russia still was its top supplier, accounting for just over 30 percent of oil imports.

The German government has been in talks to secure oil from Kazakhstan to supply Schwedt, yet that oil would have to flow to Germany via the Druzhba pipeline too.

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