Hundreds of millions of euros flowed from Europe to Russia every day. The main products used were oil, gas and coal. Then Russia invaded Ukraine.
In response to the invasion, the EU imposed a partial oil embargo on Russia on May 31. So far, however, this has only applied to oil that has been transported by sea and thus only affects 75 percent of EU imports.
The Economist has now reported that the sanctions have so far not had the desired effect – on the contrary, EU imports of Russian oil have even increased since the beginning of the war. They referred to figures from the price information service “Argus Media”. Accordingly, they rose by 14 percent between January and April, from 750,000 to 857,000 barrels a day.
So far, the embargo that has been decided only applies to oil that has been transported by sea, deliveries by pipeline are not affected. This is a concession to Hungary, which had previously blocked the agreement.
The so-called Druzhba pipeline currently supplies refineries in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia as well as in Germany and Poland. The latter two countries want to stop this completely by the end of the year. The embargo should then affect 90 percent of Russian oil.
However, another trend is currently emerging. According to the report, Germany, the main recipient of the Druzhba pipeline, is the only country to have reduced its imports since the outbreak of war. Hungary and Poland, on the other hand, have increased their imports according to figures from “Argus Media”. Slovakia is said to continue to cover 92 percent of its needs with Russian oil.
There may be financial reasons behind this. The incentive to detach from Russian oil supplies is currently low. The Urals oil, which is important for Russia, is currently trading well below Brent, the reference grade for the world market.
According to The Economist, last month Urals oil was $40 cheaper than North Sea oil, which is produced by Norway, Great Britain, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
Some Eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia therefore support an import ban in principle, but are demanding an adjustment period of two to three years.