March 4. 2024. 7:14

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Hungary ships Azeri oil to Slovakia via Croatia to reduce Russian imports

In a bid to cut down on Russian crude imports, Hungarian national oil and gas company MOL said it started transporting crude oil from its oil field in Azerbaijan to the MOL-owned Slovak refiner Slovnaft in Bratislava via the Croatian state-owned Adria oil pipeline Janaf.

MOL, which also owns a 49% stake in Croatia’s oil company INA, said that the new transport route, originating from the Azeri–Chirag–Gunashli field off the Azeri coast in the Caspian Sea, to Bratislava is a “major step” in efforts to make their crude oil supply “more flexible.”

The BTC pipeline brings the oil to the southern Turkish port of Ceyhan. where it gets loaded onto a 90,000-tonne tanker and taken to the northern Adriatic port of Omisalj – a major regional energy hub – before being transported to Slovakia via a pipeline.

MOL owns an 8.9% stake in the BTC pipeline and a 9.6% stake in the Azeri–Chirag–Gunashli oil field. It’s a key asset owned by MOL, accounting for around 15% of the company’s oil production and 25% of its reserves.

The company announced that in April they plan to start a test run of products refined from the Azeri Light oil at the Slovnaft refinery, which they claim will lead to “greater flexibility” in the supply chain, in light of European energy sanctions.

EU sanctions currently ban most imports of Russian crude oil and severely limit exports of refined fuel products made from Russian oil.

Although three EU member states – the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia – have secured exemptions from the embargo on crude oil imports, the new rules had caused problems for the Slovak refinery, which before the war relied on about 95% Russian oil to make fuel products intended for markets in neighbouring countries.

Slovnaft announced in November that they would start using other blends in their production, in order to cut down on Russian crude to comply with the latest EU sanctions.

“This arrival of the first shipment of Azeri Light crude oil is a significant event for us because it demonstrates our flexibility of supply,” MOL’s Executive Vice-President for Downstream, Gabriel Szabo, was quoted as saying in a press release.

MOL said that in spite of opening up new alternative routes, they intended to keep importing Russian crude oil via the Druzhba pipeline – adding that combining both is the “best way to guarantee the security of supply.”

(David Spaic-Kovacic |