A spokesperson from oil importer Unipetrol has confirmed that Czech oil imports through the Russian oil pipeline Druzhba grew in the second half of 2012 compared with the first half, but the future of the pipeline remains unclear.
Still negotiating oil supplies on a monthly basis, Unipetrol, has ordered its supplies from Russia for October, but Mikulas Duda, spokesman for Unipetrol, notes that future month supplies are still being negotiated with traders.
"According to preliminary schedules of planned supplies via the Druzhba pipeline, it really seems that we will have a sufficient amount of oil," Duda said about imports for Q4, 2012.
In addition to the Druzhba oil pipeline, oil deliveries to the Czech Republic come through the western IKL pipeline from Ingolstadt, Germany. In July, around one third of the country’s oil was delivered via Druzhba, and Unipetrol has now declined to specify what share of supplies is delivered through the individual pipelines today.
Earlier this year, following the launch of new Russian sea terminal Ust-Luga in March, Russian oil exporters limited supplies through Druzhba in an attempt to diversify delivery routes. The country has also used the possibilities of new routes to create pressure on prices.
Czech imports via Druzhba dropped to a minimum in Q2, 2012, and this was compensated with a growth in supplies from IKL. However, it is still not clear what role Druzhba will play in the future.
"The structure of supplies will depend on results of our analyses and on submitted offers of potential suppliers," Duda said.
Imports via Druzhba have been on a steady decline over the last couple of years. Last year, supplies through the pipeline made up around 57% of Czech oil imports, a significant drop from the 70% seen in the previous years.
In contrast, supplies via IKL are on the increase. This year, it is predicted that deliveries through IKL will make up a majority of exports for the first time.
According to experts, IKL has capacity that will fully compensate supplies through Druzhba, but it is still in the country’s best interests to keep more transit routes available.
Total oil imports to the Czech Republic decreased by about one tenth year-on-year to 7.06 million tpy last year, the lowest volume recorded since 2004.
Edited from various sources by Cecilia Rehn.