Total Seeking A Way Out From Taking Russian Oil Via The Druschba Pipeline

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Total Seeking A Way Out From Taking Russian Oil Via The Druschba Pipeline

Tue, 03/29/2022 - 11:35
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Total head office in Paris, France (© Shutterstock/HJBC)
Total head office in Paris, France (© Shutterstock/HJBC)

Russian President Vladimir Putin's War of Aggression in the Ukraine has driven the oil and gas industry to rethink its relationship with the hydrocarbon - rich Russian Federation. The Druschba Oil pipeline has been central to that relationship.

Total, the French global energy giant which is also Germany's third largest service station operator as well as the owner of the refinery in Leuna near Halle an der Salle, has announced that it will, as soon as possible, end purchases of Russian oil via the Druschba.

Part of Total's strategy is to source oil for the Leuna refinery from other locations.  This would mean, at least in the short term, turning the spigot off on the Druschba (Friendship) oil pipeline, which for nearly 60 years has transported Russian oil via Belarus and Poland to Leuna in east Germany.  In addition to feeding the Leuna refinery for the production of gasoline, products such as heating oil and kerosine were manufactured at the refinery and supplied the east German market. The German Sueddeutsche Zeitung has aptly called this development "the end of a friendship."

Total's decision comes on the heels of Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of the Ukraine.  So if the Druschba will no longer provide the feedstock for the Leuna refinery, what does Total have in mind to replace the Russian oil?

Envisioned has been receiving oil by ship tanker in Gdansk and using tank trucks to bring the oil to Leuna.  Critics, however, say this arrangement is neither environmentally nor economically sound.  There is also the question of refining oil other than that coming from the Druschba, as this entails considerable tweaking of the refinery capabilities calibrated to process Russian oil from specific Siberian oil fields and is not as easy as it may sound. Furthermore the way to Leuna via Gdansk would allow only half of the capacities offered by Druschba.

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