Leak in Russia-Germany oil pipeline discovered in Poland

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The Druzhba oil pipeline linking Russia and Germany has been partly shut down after a leak was discovered in Poland, the Polish PERN operator said Wednesday.

Published: 12 October 2022 10:51 CEST

An “Out of Service” sign at the Schwedt/Oder oil refinery near Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Patrick Pleul

“The cause of the incident is not known for the moment. Pumping in the affected line was immediately stopped. Line 2 of the pipeline is functioning normally,” PERN  said, adding that the leak was detected late on Tuesday.

The leak was found near the village of Zurawice about 180 kilometres (112 miles) to the west of Warsaw in central Poland.

“PERN emergency services and the state fire service immediately went to the scene to assess the situation, secure the area and start rescue operations,” PERN said.

Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Polish officials sought to dampen fears that the damage to the pipeline was a result of sabotage.

“Here we can speak of accidental damage,” Mateusz Berger, Poland’s top official in charge of energy infrastructure, told Reuters. He said there was no reason to believe the leak had been caused deliberately. 

However, the news is likely to increase fears over the security of Europe’s energy supply at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the EU and as countries scramble to shore up their reserves for winter.

It also comes just weeks after two key Russian gas pipelines – Nord Stream 1 and 2 – suffered multiple leaks in the Baltic Sea, in what NATO believes to be an act of sabotage.

On Tuesday, German federal prosecutors announced they would be opening a probe into the explosions that occurred before the leaks in the two gas pipelines were discovered.

They said there was “sufficient evidence” that Nord Stream 1 and 2 were “intentionally damaged with at least two detonations.” 

READ ALSO: Germany opens probe of likely ‘blasts’ against Nord Stream

Key oil pipeline

The Druzhba oil pipeline, whose name means “friendship” in Russian, is one of the largest pipelines in the world, delivering oil from Russia to multiple central Europe countries including Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

It is also the primary pipeline delivering oil to the Schwedt refinery in Brandenburg, which supplies 90 percent of Berlin’s fuel needs. 

Along with other European countries, Germany has been seeking to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and has set a target of cutting all oil deliveries from Russia by the end of the year.

However, for the first seven months of the year, Russia remained the country’s largest supplier and has continued to deliver oil to Germany even after cutting off its gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. 

According to a spokesperson from the Polish fire brigade, emergency services were fighting to pump out the liquid and contain the leak in the Druzhba pipelines on Wednesday morning.

He said a decrease in pressure would allow firefighters to access the leak and stop it. 

READ ALSO: What the Nord Stream pipeline leaks mean for people in Germany