A major Russian missile strike on energy infrastructure in Ukraine on Tuesday interrupted the transit of Russian oil across the country to Hungary and Slovakia, two Eastern European countries that remain highly dependent on such deliveries.
Russian oil supplies to both countries have been running via the Druzhba trunkline, a Soviet-era system built to deliver oil to Eastern Europe and Germany.
However, Ukraine was able to restore oil flows to the two countries less than 24 hours after the strike, albeit at a low rate.
Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto issued a public statement Wednesday saying that work was under way to bring the flows to "full normal level" as the missile strike had not damaged the pipeline itself.
Instead, a power installation close to Ukraine’s border with Belarus was allegedly hit, cutting off power supplies to the pipeline’s electric pumps.
Although not formally participating in the Ukraine invasion, Belarus has permitted Russian military personnel and equipment to be deployed within its territory since February.
“The repair of the electricity transformer station is obviously easier than [the overhaul] of the pipeline” were it to have been damaged, Szijjarto said earlier on Wednesday.
Oil deliveries to Hungary had been restarted at low pressure later in the day while Ukraine continues efforts to restore the pipeline’s normal operating pressure, he said in a later update on the Druzhba stoppage.
A number of other power-generating installations in the western and central part of Ukraine were hit in Tuesday’s attack, which lasted more than six hours, triggering controlled blackouts across the country to avoid overload damage to the remaining facilities.
Szijjarto said that despite the country’s strong reliance on Russian oil deliveries via Druzhba, its energy supply has not been in danger as a result of the incident, as Hungary has sufficient crude oil reserves that may last “for weeks if not months”.
Moscow has restricted access to information on the volume of oil exports via Druzhba since the introduction of international sanctions, but Russian deliveries to Hungary averaged some 84,000 barrels per day of oil in November and December last year, according to the Russian Energy Ministry.
Similarly, Russian oil supplies via Druzhba to Slovakia flowed at about 109,000 bpd and to the Czech Republic, which receives oil through Slovakia and which imported 61,000 bpd at this time last year.
Czech oil pipeline operator Mero said it has not experienced a disruption of Russian oil supply to the country due to sufficient operational stocks in Slovakia, Reuters reported.
Slovak pipeline operator Transpetrol reported a halt to oil supplies via Druzhba but the resumption of supplies was announced separately by the country’s Economy Ministry.
The European Union is preparing to enforce an embargo from 5 December on Russian oil exports but has exempted Slovakia and Hungary from the ban because of their lack of major alternative import routes.
Attack on Oryol
Russian regional authorities in the Oryol region said that an unidentified drone struck and damaged an oil storage installation near the village of Stalnoy Kon early on Wednesday.
The facility, operated by Transneft, serves the segment of the Druzhba pipeline in the Oryol region about 200 kilometres from the Russian border with Ukraine.
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