NUR-SULTAN – A total of 590,000 tons of Kazakh oil was contaminated during its passage through the Russian section of the Druzhba pipeline, the Kazakh Deputy Minister of Energy said on Friday.
“Around 590,000 tons, six oil tankers, were withdrawn,” Deputy Minister Aset Magauov told reporters in the corridors of the 12th Astana Economic Forum, currently being held in the Kazakh capital.
According to the politician, Kazakhstan has not sent oil through Druzhba since 2013, but it uses a small branch of it to move crude to the port of Ust-Luga.
“We received oil in poor condition there, but we managed to reach an agreement with the buyers to accept it,” he said.
The deputy minister said that the oil that is currently coming out of the pipeline meets the established standards.
“We now have good quality oil, and we have already loaded two tankers between May 10 and 15,” he said.
In early May it was reported that the Belarusian company Gomeltransneft Druzhba (the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline) had completely closed the system to Russian oil to clean it of contaminated crude.
Belarus was the first country to detect this phenomenon in the pipeline’s northern branch and chose to close valves, a decision that was supported by Poland and Germany, and later Slovakia.
According to various estimates, the damage caused as a result of this to the Belarusian economy alone amounted to around $100 million.
The closure of the pipeline during two weeks costs Russia about $1 billion, excluding fines because of delays in delivery, legal costs, and the expenses to find a technical solution to the problem.
Russian oil transport company Transneft has not dodged responsibility, and has rather admitted the facts and immediately sought ways to solve a situation that has badly affected both its business and its reputation.
Transneft immediately launched talks with its colleagues from Ukraine, Belarus and Poland to reduce the damage, moving the contaminated oil through alternative routes, in this case by railroad, to reprocess it for its later use.