The Druzhba pipeline, through which Russian oil flows into the country, may be converted into a product pipeline to deliver fuel into war-torn Ukraine, Slovak Economy Minister Richard Sulík announced.
“In Ukraine, most of the refineries are destroyed. Ukraine needs fuels. The main pipe in Druzhba is used to import crude oil. The second pipe can be adapted for the transport of the finished products – diesel or gasoline for a relatively reasonable investment,” Sulík explained.
The minister added that a feasibility study would be pre-prepared by the Slovak oil pipeline operator Transpetrol.
Besides aid to Ukraine, there is a commercial logic behind the plan. Slovakia, along with Hungary and Czechia, received an exemption from the ban on oil imports from Russia, agreed by the EU leaders early in June.
This means oil refineries in these countries can continue to use Russian oil while adjusting technologies for other types of oil. However, after eight months, they cannot export products made from Russian oil to western countries.
The measure aims to prevent Czech, Hungarian and Slovak companies from gaining a competitive advantage over refineries in Western Europe, because of the lower price of Russian oil. For Slovak oil refinery Slovnaft, this means the loss of most of its export market and the threat of a shut-down.
Sulík, however, promised that Slovnaft will not be closed. Adjustment to other oil types, usually lighter than Russian, will cost approximately €300 million. In the meantime, the loss of most export destinations can be covered by exports to Ukraine.
It is unclear how long the repurposing of Druzhba will take or how much it will cost.