Czechia has dramatically increased its reliance on Russian oil, with imports via the Druzhba pipeline reaching 65% this year, up from 56% in the previous year, Barbora Putzová, the spokesperson for the state-owned firm Mero, told the Czech News Agency.
Even with the EU’s significant sanctions on Russia, Czechia recorded its highest Russian oil imports since 2012. The EU’s ban on Russian oil imports was implemented in December 2022, yet the Druzhba pipeline remains an exception due to its routes running through Ukraine to various European destinations.
The share of Russian oil in total imports has been rising steadily in recent months. Analysts had predicted this trend earlier in the summer, warning that EU refiners were stockpiling crude in anticipation of possible disruptions to transit through Ukraine.
In a more recent development, a group protested in Prague on Sunday against increased imports of Russian oil into the Czech Republic. The “No to Russian Oil” initiative called on the government to reduce its supplies.
“It is necessary that we think about our security and solidarity with an invaded Ukraine, even in the case of oil imports,” the initiative urged in its statement.
“Russia’s war against Ukraine will be decided in these months and will also have a strong impact on our future and security,” it added.
However, the Ministry of Industry and Trade responded that the immediate replacement of Russian oil supplies was not feasible.
The Czech Republic has two primary sources of oil: the Druzhba pipeline from Russia and the IKL pipeline, which is connected to the TAL pipeline from Italy and carries oil through Germany.
Neighbouring Slovakia is as much as 70% dependent on Russian oil, while countries such as Poland and Germany have limited their Russian imports.
The Czech Republic is also taking steps to reduce its dependence, with a project to increase the capacity of the TAL pipeline from Italy expected to be completed in 2025.
(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)
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