The West has sentenced: Dirty oil — political weapon of the Kremlin
Contaminated oil supplied to Europe via the Druzhba pipeline could be a targeted political measure of the Kremlin. This assumption was made by the German edition of Handelsblatt.
Handelsblatt experts note that the pollution occurred at the time of the aggravation of Russian-Belarusian relations. One of the reasons for this is the reluctance of Russia to subsidize oil supplies to Belarus, while Minsk then resells it at world prices. Well, if so, dirty oil could be a kind of signal to Alexander Lukashenko, Newspapers hint.
«The Russian government has made a proposal to unite a small neighboring country, the Belarusian President rejected it and is demonstratively looking for proximity to the European Union,» the author writes, politicizing the problem. There is, however, one «but» — because of the pollution was suspended oil transit in Ukraine and among the affected countries Poland, Germany, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
Did such a large-scale «diversion», and even on its own export pipeline, on which future supplies depend and as a consequence budget revenues, Moscow held in order to annoy the Father? Dubiously. After all, we are talking about 5 million tons of oil worth 2.6 billion dollars. Moreover, a significant portion of 1.8 million tons has not passed through Belarus and Ukraine.
The incident is so serious that Vladimir Putin received a report from the head of Transneft Nikolai Tokarev. Russia will suffer material and image losses, the President is sure. According to him, now it is necessary to adjust the system of control of oil pipeline loading. Tokarev was asked to take measures and report to the government.
While the culprit of the incident is called a private enterprise in the Samara region, which allowed the discharge of hydrocarbons into the oil pipeline without proper commodity preparation. We are talking about deliberate actions. «Pure fraud in violation of all instructions and regulatory requirements,» Tokarev said, admitting the guilt of Transneft.
The materials collected by the company were transferred to the local FSB, which conducts operational and investigative actions. The head of the government did not rule out criminal liability for those responsible for the incident. However, not everyone believes in the criminal version, or in the accident of pollution. In the network, you can find the assumption that it could be inspired by people associated with Lukashenka.
The latter is not so unlikely if we recall that the issue of the Belarusian re-export of Russian oil was one of the causes of the conflict between the two countries. It, inter alia, have decided our new Ambassador in Minsk Mikhail Babich, cause its meticulous rejection of Lukashenko. After the history of pollution hard Babich was recalled to Russia and replaced by a complaisant Dmitry Mezentsev.
Is Lukashenka could «bend» the Putin economic «sabotage»?
— In the Volga region, oil has been extracted for a hundred years, — reminded the Director of the energy development Fund Sergey Pikin. — So now the oil reserves there are hundreds of times less than, for example, in the same Western Siberia. To extract each additional ton of oil in these complex fields with a long history requires special technology.
The reagent found in oil — organic chlorine, just for this purpose and was used. Helped strengthen production. By the way, we must understand that when they talk about «dirty» oil, it does not mean that it can not be cleaned. It will simply require additional resources to do so.
«SP»: — In telegram channels write that Mozyr oil refinery in Belarus was built in the Soviet era specifically for the processing of oil with a high content of impurities and was appropriately equipped for this purpose. Is that true?
— Russia in Europe let oil high-sulfur Urals. The amount of different kinds of impurities there is higher than in Brent oil. So it is true that our refineries in the West were built based on heavy oil. But it is not only our refineries but also European, which was focused on oil from the USSR.
But it wasn’t organic chlorine. This particular connection can lead to problems with plant equipment. Chlorine reacts chemically and the equipment can deteriorate. Therefore, the flow of oil was stopped, so that it would not be repaired again.
«SP»: — How did it happen that dirty oil went not only through Belarus, but also through Ukraine? As a result, at least five countries were affected. Does Russia now has to pay penalties?
— This is all the responsibility of Transneft. Druzhba oil pipeline goes through Belarus. Before it, this oil is not used by any of the Russian refineries, so they found pollution only in Belarus. The way through Ukraine is an offshoot from the Druzhba oil pipeline.
On penalties, of course, will follow the reaction of Belarus and others. Claims will be first to one company, but in the end, it all comes to «Transneft». Transneft will try to recover everything from the culprit, but they say that the company is in a pre-bankruptcy state, so it is unlikely to recover anything. The proceedings are ahead, and now the main task is to reach a normal mode of operation.
The expert on Belarus Dmitry Bolkunets told us about the political aspects of what is happening.
— I categorically exclude the possibility that Russia could use oil pollution to solve some political issues with Belarus.
SP»: — Why?
— First, it is a catastrophic loss of image, a threat, a big risk. Secondly, it is material losses for companies. After all, the company that has already recognized the losses will have to compensate them either financially or with free oil supplies. In addition, this incident may affect the price of oil of this brand for some period.
I assume that the current situation can be used by individual politicians and publications in the West. They will inflate, but this is nonsense. This situation is likely to have a technological reason. The information that the compounds that help to extract oil got into the pipe, for example, due to an oversight, seems to be the most plausible.
If someone at the same time poured organic compounds into the pipe, this mass would quickly pass and all. And here we see that large volumes of oil were contaminated. So these compounds came from the ground. Of course, the quality of oil had to be controlled. Apparently, this monitoring was broken, which led to such consequences.
«SP»: — it Seems that Minsk does not really believe in chance…
— Belarus has not behaved entirely properly in relation to Russia, when he tried to inflate this into a political scandal, putting forward some including political, requirements. I shouldn’t have taken it out of the house. This had all the possibilities, including the overlap of the pipeline and the cleanup of contaminated oil. And for some reason, Lukashenka decided to once again throw a scandal, which has already spread to Europe. This is not good for both countries.
«SP»: — When the topic of pollution appeared, Babich was still an Ambassador, but today he is not. It turns out that Minsk used the incident as a political weapon…
— Yes, but I don’t think we should tie Babich to oil. These are parallel stories. Coincidence.
«SP»: — is it? After all, the problem of re-export of cheap Russian oil by Belarus is one of the problems solved by the presence of Babich in the Republic…
— On April 1, Putin signed an agreement banning Belarus from re-exporting duty-free Russian oil to third countries. Now you can buy the oil products produced in Russian oil refineries, only for the inner Belarusian needs. Although oil products produced from Russian oil can still be resold. Obviously, Babich had a hand in this agreement, which Lukashenka could not forgive.
What can be said about the political context of the events? Still, not every day the Kremlin so clearly inferior to external pressure and withdraws its own Ambassador…
— Babich’s activity was to achieve the implementation of all our agreements within the framework of the Union state. To make it finally work.
Babich paid visits to Belarusian factories — visited them more than Lukashenka during the same period.
Babich also had several public appearances in the Russian media. In Belarusian, it was forbidden. There he voiced problematic topics: Russia’s subsidizing of the Belarusian economy, market access, etc.
In addition, Babich for the first time began to meet with representatives of the civil society of Belarus. In particular, with two former presidential candidates.
It is clear that Alexander Grigorievich could not like all this. Foreign Ministry of Belarus began in an unfriendly form to give Babich evaluation. Called «accountant», «accountant» and so on.
The culmination occurred on April 12, when Lukashenka and Babich entered into a direct correspondence conflict. I think that was when the question of the recall of the Russian Ambassador was resolved. Now Babich is leaving Belarus.