Hungary, EC may spare Hungary and Slovakia from an embargo on buying Russian oil

, SEE Energy News

The European Commission (EC) may spare Hungary and Slovakia from an embargo on buying  Russian oil, which is currently under preparation, wary of the two countries’ dependence on Russian crude oil.

The EC is expected to soon finalize work on the next package of EU sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, which would include a ban on buying Russian oil. Exports of oil are a major source of Russia’s revenue.

Hungary, heavily dependent on Russian oil, has repeatedly said it would not sign up to sanctions involving energy. Slovakia is also among the EU countries most reliant on Russian fossil fuels. To keep the 27-nation bloc united, the Commission might offer Slovakia and Hungary an exemption or a long transition period.

The oil embargo is likely to be phased in anyway, most likely taking full effect from the start of next year.

Europe is the destination for nearly half of Russia’s crude oil and petroleum product exports, providing Moscow with a huge source of revenue that countries including Latvia and Poland say must be cut, to stop funding its military action in Ukraine.

EU countries have paid Russia nearly 20 billion euros since 24 February, when it invaded Ukraine. Overall, the EU is dependent on Russia for 26 % of its oil imports.

Slovakia and Hungary, both on the southern route of the Druzhba pipeline bringing Russian oil to Europe, are especially dependent, receiving respectively 96 % and 58 % of their crude oil and oil products imports from Russia last year, according to the International Energy Agency.

Germany, the top buyer of Russian oil in the EU, has in recent days said it could manage an oil embargo, having initially resisted for fear of the economic cost. At 555,000 barrels per day, Germany imported 35 % of its crude oil from Russia in 2021, but has in recent weeks reduced that to 12 %.