Ukraine halts Russian oil flows to Europe

Ukraine halts Russian oil flows to Europe

Ukraine has suspended Russian oil pipeline flows to parts of central Europe since early this month because Western sanctions prevented it from accepting transit fees from Moscow, Russia's Transneft said on Tuesday.

Flows along the southern route of the Druzhba pipeline have been affected while the northern route serving Poland and Germany remains uninterrupted.

The suspension of pipeline flows on Tuesday will hit countries such as Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic, which all rely heavily on Russian crude and have limited ability to import alternative supply by sea.

The fact that refiners have to import seaborne oil on such short notice will make the job to secure alternative supply even more difficult in an already tight oil market, traders said.

Hungarian energy firm MOL and Slovak pipeline operator Transpetrol confirmed flows have been halted for a few days over the payment of transit fees.

Russia's Transneft said it made payments for August oil transit to Ukrainian pipeline operator UkrTransNafta on July 22, but the money was returned on July 28 as the payment did not go through. It said the shipments were halted from Aug. 4.

Transneft said in a statement that Gazprombank, which handled the payment, told it the money was returned because of European Union restrictions.

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