EU countries get Russian oil exemption – Reuters

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Brussels will allow Slovakia to export fuel produced from sanctioned crude to the Czech Republic for another year

The European Union has granted Slovakia a year-long exemption allowing it to export fuel processed from Russian crude by the country’s oil refinery Slovnaft to the Czech Republic, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Last December, Brussels introduced an embargo on seaborne oil supplies to members of the bloc with only deliveries via the Druzhba pipeline allowed. In February, the embargo was extended to oil products.

However, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary were entitled to exemptions that allowed them to import Russian crude and export refined products made from it. The regulation allowing the Czech Republic to import Russian-origin crude products from Slovakia expired on December 5.

Slovnaft, which is affiliated with Hungarian energy giant the MOL Group, is reportedly seeking to cut its use of Russian crude, but has said it needs more time to do so.

In Bulgaria, Russian oil is processed at the Burgas refinery, which is owned by Russian energy major Lukoil. Earlier this week, a bill banning exports of Russian-origin crude products despite the EU exemption passed the first stage in the Bulgarian parliament. The embargo is expected to come into force as early as next month. Sofia has also banned imports of Russian crude from refining, starting March 1.

Lukoil had previously warned that, in response to “discriminatory laws and other unfair, biased political decisions” regarding the refinery in Burgas, it would review its business strategy in Bulgaria, including the sale of assets.

Most EU nations have also cut gas supplies from Russia, with Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic among those still using it.

Earlier this year, Bulgaria introduced a tax on the transit of Russian gas. The move outraged Hungary, which saw it as a threat to its energy security. In December, Budapest threatened to veto Bulgaria’s entry into the Schengen area and pressured Sofia to cancel the levy.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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