Moscow, April 23 - Neftegaz.RU. The Russian energy ministry said that problems with the deteriorating quality of crude exported to the West is technical, and will be resolved in the near future, Platts reported.
The ministry denied that the problem is linked to economic disputes, which have increased between the two countries recently.
"The problem is technical, and is not linked to issues under discussion with our Belarusian partners on medium and long term cooperation in the oil and gas sector," the Russian energy ministry statement said.
In mid-April, Belarus threatened to suspend Russian crude transit to Europe over ongoing economic disputes. Belarusian officials suggested part of the Druzhba pipeline, which delivers more than 1 million b/d of crude to Europe via Belarus, may be closed for maintenance. If the pipeline is closed, Russia would be able to redirect some of the crude volumes via its ports on the Black and Baltic seas, but would not be able to compensate for the full halt.
Outstanding issues between the 2 countries include natural gas prices, as well as compensation for refineries that face higher crude prices as a result of changes to taxation.
The energy ministry said that the current quality issues are linked to excess organic chlorides in oil shipped to the West. This was discovered by state-owned pipeline operator Transneft, which has taken measures to bring levels back to normal, including localizing the source of this higher concentration, and redirecting flows.