BP pledges oil to Poland as EU tightens rules on Russian imports

Poland’s largest energy producer and importer Orlen has secured an oil supply deal with UK supermajor BP that will replace Russian oil volumes the country once received through the legacy Druzhba pipeline.

Tuesday’s announcement followed the European Union’s ruling to fully halt Russian oil imports via the northern leg of the transmission network.

Orlen said in a statement that BP will deliver seaborne oil cargoes from the Norwegian North Sea totalling about 44 million barrels over the next 12 months.

This amount represents over 15% of the oil needs of the entire Orlen Group and will be supplied via marine terminals in the Poland’s port of Gdansk and the port of Butinge in northern Lithuania which is operated by the Polish company, the company said.

The first shipment is scheduled to arrive in late August or early September.

“The contract with BP is a potential starting point to further cooperation, including in areas related to both companies’ involvement in the energy transition,” Orlen chief executive Daniel Obajtek said.

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The European Union last week approved the 11th package of sanctions against Russia, aiming to close loopholes and fine-tune existing mechanisms to reduce the revenues it earns from energy exports.

The rules also restrict Russia’s ability to import sensitive equipment and technology that can be used to support its military aggression in Ukraine.

The package ends “the possibility to import Russian oil by pipeline for Germany and Poland”, the EU said.

Despite an embargo on Russian oil purchases adopted in December last year, oil exports on the Druzhba pipeline continued to flow across Belarus to Poland and Germany until February, Russian oil pipeline operator Transneft has alleged.

Orlen said that in the first quarter of this year, it did not renew its Druzhba-based contract with Russian oil producer Rosneft and terminated a similar contract with the country’s regional oil producer Tatneft.

Orlen’s refinery in Plock, once almost entirely dependent on Russian imports through the Druzhba network, has turned to alternative oil supply sources, securing deliveries from major North Sea fields such as Forties, Oseberg, Johan Sverdrup, Troll, Grane, Brent and Ekofisk.

Orlen said it also imports Forcados and Bonny Light crude from West Africa, along with occasional shipment of WTI, Bakken and Mars grades from the US.