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The disruption of Russian crude supplies to Europe through Belarus do not jeopardize the EU nation's energy security
The disruption of Russian crude supplies to Europe, including Slovakia, through Belarus do not jeopardize the EU nation's energy security, Prime Minister Robert Fico said Tuesday. Slovakian authorities said the country had enough oil reserves to last 80 days after Belarus blocked Russia's Europe-bound oil supplies in a bilateral energy dispute. Russia supplies more than 25% of the EU's oil and natural gas. Poland and Germany, which also receive Russian crude through the Russian Druzhba pipeline through Belarus, said Monday supplies had been blocked. Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft [RTS: TRNF] accused Belarus of tapping Russian oil and blocking European exports. Belarusian officials did not comment. Stefan Czucz, chief executive and director general of Slovakia's Transpetrol company, which operates the Slovak section of the pipeline, said: "Oil stopped flowing to Slovakia at 7:54 p.m. local time [6:54 p.m. GMT]." Slovakia's Slovnaft refinery continues to operate normally, the company's spokesperson Kristina Felova told reporters. She said Slovnaft experts did not expect any serious or long-term problems with Russian crude supplies through the Druzhba pipeline. The pipeline transports oil from Siberia and the Urals to European refineries across Belarus where it branches off in two directions - north to Poland and Germany, and south to Ukraine, Slovakia and other central European nations. Russia and Belarus have been embroiled in an energy dispute since Moscow doubled the gas price for Belarus to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters as of January 1 and raised the oil export duty to $180.7 per metric ton. Belarus responded January 3 by introducing a transit duty of $45 per metric ton for crude crossing its territory. A Belarusian delegation led by First Deputy Economy Minister Vladimir Naidunov flew to Moscow Monday night in a bid to resume energy negotiations. Russian Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Sharonov said Monday that talks would begin only after Minsk cancelled the transit duty. The standoff with Belarus resembles last year's energy dispute with Ukraine, when Russia suspended gas supplies to Ukraine amid a gas price row, a move that affected consumers in western Europe. Ukraine later admitted tapping Russia's Europe-designated gas. Commenting on the current situation with Russian energy supplies, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany needed to form an energy mix to avoid dependence on energy imports. "Suspended crude supplies remind us again of the need to diversify our energy sources," she said. "We must not depend on a single nation."
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