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Pollution in the Russian oil pipeline happened very “on time” – amid the rejection of Ukraine’s supply and the loud statements of Belarus

On April 23, an emergency meeting of representatives of the Belarusian company Belneftekhim and the Russian Transneft takes place. The reason is poor-quality oil, which since April 19 is supplied along the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline to the Belarusian oil refineries. At the same time, the Belarusian side is talking about damage to the equipment of the Mozyr Oil Refinery “for tens of millions of dollars.” And four days after the start of problems, Belarus suspended the export of oil and oil products.

The Russian oil recorded a significant excess of the permissible amount of organochlorine compounds, which, when processed at the refinery, react with hydrogen, releasing hydrochloric acid, and it, in turn, eats away the metal of the plant equipment.

Belarus itself practically does not produce hydrocarbons, but buys Russian oil without paying export duty, which in April 2019 is $ 97.4 per ton – one-fifth of the total selling price. Thus, Belarus buys fuel by 20% cheaper than Russia’s partners outside the Customs Union, which allows it to re-export it with a substantial profit.

Now Belarus intends to demand large-scale compensation from Transneft, that is, from Russia. Interestingly, recipients of Russian oil from outside Belarus only declare a stricter control over deliveries in connection with Belarusian claims. The southern branch of the Druzhba gas pipeline runs from Belarus to Ukraine and further to Slovakia.

If you look at the sequence of events, it turns out some kind of feast for the lovers of conspiracy.

1 – Russia enters another conflict with Belarus over the brazen use of the brotherly country and the absence of customs between the countries.

2 – Russia, in response to the next trade restrictions from Ukraine, announces the termination of the export of oil and oil products to Ukraine.

3 – Belarus, and having previously re-exported a lot of hydrocarbons, announces that it will be able to partially replace Russian products to Ukraine with its products.

4 – Transneft specialists go to Samara under the pretext of holding an open lesson on labor protection for students of the Samara State Technical University.

5 – Oil entering Belarus is not suitable for processing; Probable site of contamination with chlorides – Samara region.

6 – Belarus is forced to suspend the export of oil and oil products, Ukraine is losing the channel of substitution for Russian supplies.

In fact, of course, there is an unpleasant coincidence for all parties. In the face of a brutal struggle for oil markets, Russia cannot lose face. The Urals brand is gradually becoming more and more sour, which raises legitimate questions from partners and forces owners to look for solutions, for example, in the form of a selection of Urals Heavy with a high sulfur content embedded in the standard. And then there’s the chlorides, which will now be raised in conversation at every opportunity.

Apparently, there was a technological error. Organic chlorine-containing additives are used when pumping oil to absorb the hydrogen sulfide produced in the pipes. Perhaps at some point in the section from the Samara to the Bryansk region a disproportionately many of these additives were added to the mixture. The Russian side’s fault in this is certainly present, and certain compensation to the recipients must be paid.

There is no doubt that the Belarusian side will try to extract the maximum benefit from the incident. Transportation and processing of oil received at preferential prices is extremely important for our neighbor, especially since the tax maneuver is just around the corner, which will lead to the abolition of oil export duties in Russia: they will be replaced by increased mineral extraction taxes. As a result, Belarus will have to buy oil at world prices (there will be no more winnings on duties), which causes rapid irritation in Minsk in advance. And now “Transneft” has handed over its hands a powerful trump card to its temperamental allies-opponents. It is clear that no one will consciously do such things.

So someone’s negligence once again led to moral and material losses. Unfortunately, this is nothing new.