The interruption of Russian oil supplies to Germany and Poland creates "no immediate risk to the supply of oil to the European Union," commented Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs in a statement released on 8 January. The commissioner nevertheless added that he was considering convening the Oil Supply Group "to evaluate the impact of the situation and in case the supply disruption causes member states to draw on their strategic stocks". There is a directive requiring strategic stocks equivalent to 90-days supply.

Supplies of Russian oil, carried by pipeline via Belarus, were interrupted during the night of 7 January and then totally stopped on the morning of 8 January at Poland's border with Belarus on the Druzhba (Friendship) line supplying Poland and Germany, announced the Polish pipeline firm PERN. Germany's economic affairs minister confirmed that the Druzhba pipeline was "closed" on the morning of 8 January.

A European Commission spokesman said Germany's stocks are currently equivalent to 130 days and Poland's amount to more than 70 days (it has a derogation to the directive). The cut-off of Russian oil may also affect Slovakia and Lithuania, noted the Commission. Poland's economic affairs minister has released a statement noting that Polish refineries (Orlen and Lotos groups) have sufficient reserves to keep operating until they can be supplied with oil via a maritime terminal situated in the Baltic. Poland also has strategic stocks of oil and fuel for 80 days, which will be used according to need.

Sources at the Commission seem unable to identify the exact cause of the interruption and are not ruling out a 'technical' problem. Information is being sought from the Russian authorities. In late December, a dispute between Russia and Belarus, solved in the meantime, arose over the transfer of Russian gas (see Europolitics 3219).

The Druzhba...

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