Slovakia is the latest country to find its oil supply cut, due to the shutdown of a pipeline carrying oil from Russia through Belarus. Russia’s Drujba pipeline stopped pumping in the early hours yesterday following an unexpected twist in the dispute between Moscow and Minsk. It is reported that deliveries are now beginning to dwindle in the Czech Republic and Hungary. Supplies to Germany and Poland were the first to be cut off completely.
Pipeline monopoly Transneft said it took action to stop Belarus siphoning off oil – payment in kind for its new oil transit duty. A delegation left Belarus on Monday evening for urgent talks in Moscow. But the signs are that EU chiefs have had enough of relying on foreign suppliers. “This situation leads us to the conclusion that we can only achieve security in the energy sector with a high degree of diversification. We need a mixture of energy sources in Germany and must not be too dependent on individual suppliers,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
That sentiment was echoed by Poland’s Economy Minister: “Once again, we are facing a problem with supplies from the East and it makes us even more likely to think that these suppliers cannot be trusted,” he said. The impact of a short-term stoppage on the EU is likely to be minimal. Refineries in the bloc maintain strategic oil stocks.