May 27. 2024. 8:54

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Oil transit fees at heart of Slovak-Croat dispute


Croatian state oil transportation company Janaf slapping a several million-per-year raise to its oil transit fees has made it difficult for Slovak oil refinery Slovnaft to rid itself of Russian crude.

Slovakia has been granted an exemption under the EU oil embargo, meaning its company, Slovnaft, a subsidiary of Hungarian giant MOL, can still use Russian oil for fuel production for the domestic market. For its exports, however, it will need non-Russian oil from next year.

Its only transport alternative is to receive oil via the Adria pipeline from the Croatian port Omišalj, though this will come at a hefty price.

To use the pipeline, Janaf recently increased the fees to transport oil, Slovnaft said without elaborating further. It now charges the highest transport fees in the EU, fees that are many times higher than normal, it added.

According to information from Denník N, Janaf charges six times more than Slovak oil transporter Transpetrol or Czech MERO. In Czechia and Slovakia, transporting oil costs only €3 per tonne, while Janaf now charges €17.

If Slovnaft really paid such high fees, it would have to be reflected in petrol and diesel prices. Slovnaft sells its fuel not only in Slovakia but also in other Central European countries. The Slovak oil refinery consumes approximately six million tonnes of oil a year.

Meanwhile, Slovakia’s Economy Ministry confirmed that it is in contact with the Croatian side.

“Informal communication took place between Economy Minister Karel Hirman and his Croatian counterpart regarding the situation,” spokeswoman Mária Pavlusik said.

According to the sources from Slovnaft, the company would appreciate it if the Slovak government invited Austrian and Czech representatives into the discussions with Croatians, as Slovnaft has high market shares in these countries.

“Slovnaft has only a short-term contract with the Croatian pipeline operator Janaf for the next few months. What will happen after that, we cannot predict, as the Croatian side is setting inadequate financial conditions,” Slovnaft spokesman Anton Molnár said.

According to sources from the refining business, Slovnaft also minds that despite the higher fees, the Croatian side is not working on the declared expansion of transport capacity.

Today, only six million tonnes of crude oil can be transported annually through this pipeline, exactly the volume consumed by Slovnaft alone.

(Michal Hudec | EURACTIV.sk)