September 27, 2019 / 4:27 PM / 22 days ago

Contaminated oil in Polish storage tanks to take 6-8 months to clean

LONDON (Reuters) - Contaminated oil in Polish storage tanks that was shipped along the Druzhba pipeline from Russia will take another six to eight months to clean, Poland’s minister for energy infrastructure said on Friday.

News of the contamination broke in late April when buyers from the Baltic port of Ust-Luga and along the Druzhba pipeline to Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Czech Republic discovered chemicals in the oil.

Up to 5 million tonnes of tainted Russian oil had by then been shipped from Ust-Luga via Druzhba to central Europe before flows were suspended. They were partially restarted in June.

Piotr Naimski, the energy infrastructure minister, said there was still some contaminated oil left in storage tanks.

“And the only possibility from the very beginning to deal with this problem was to dilute this contaminated crude oil with clean.”

“About half of this is already (done) but the whole process will take another probably now 6-8 months. It depends on the refineries,” he said.

Refineries in Europe had to scramble for oil when supplies were halted.

Kazakhstan, which also had contaminated oil shipments, on Thursday agreed with Russia on compensation at $15 a barrel.

Naimski said it was for the Polish companies to calculate their loss and seek compensation.

“They stay in touch. They are talking, they are discussing this issue among affected companies in Poland and in Germany and other countries ... and their Russian partners,” he said.

Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki. Editing by Jane Merriman

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