Today news reports hit the wires reporting a temporary and as of yet unexplained shut down of oil exports from Russia to Europe via the Druzhba pipeline, which passes through Belarus. Apart from accusations of siphoning, there has been little information about who shut down the flow, or how and when the problem will be resolved. Russian Deputy Trade and Economic Development Andrei Sharonov has told the media that he blames the shut down on a disruption caused by Minsk. The Druzhba Pipeline has the capacity to deliver 1.2 million barrels of crude a day to Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Typical to previous supply disruptions from Russia, the dearth of information is causing some waves in Europe. The European Union has already demanded an “urgent and detailed” explanation from the two countries, and various officials are demonstrating a frayed patience Russia’s New Year’s tradition of energy shenanigins. German Prime Minister Angela Merkel gave the following statement on German television, as reported by Reuters:
“This has not caused any acute threats to our energy supply. But there have been transit problems again and again over the past few years. We need legal protection, we need contract security.”
According to Forbes, the Polish Deputy Minister of Economy Piotr Naimski, gave the following comment to TVN24 Television:
“This shows us once again that arguments among various countries of the former Soviet Union, between suppliers and transit countries, mean that these deliveries are unreliable from our perspective.”
Currently most analysts are emphasizing that they believe the Druzhba problem will be solved quickly, and politicians are working their press corps hard to stave off any panic about the impact this cut-off will have. But once again there are too many premature apologies and excuses on behalf of Europe defending Russia. The fact is that we don’t know enough about what is going on right now, and just like the Ukrainian gas war of 2005/2006, there is a fundamental unwillingness to provide the transparency necessary for EU energy security. This should not be tolerated any longer.