The Western Balkans has not been exempted from the latest package of EU energy sanctions against Russia, due to Serbia’s close ties to Moscow.
The diplomatic sources have confirmed that EU member states agreed that Serbia should not profit from the derogation, because its has not introduced sanctions against Russia.
In the first draft, Serbia was allowed to continue importing Russian crude oil for its refinery in Pancevo through Croatia’s JANAF pipeline in order to maintain the energy stability in the Western Balkans. The idea was to maintain the transit of Russian oil within the limits of the average levels of transit from the previous years in order to avoid circumvention of sanctions.
Therefore, as of 1 November, Serbia will not be able to import Russian crude oil.
Last month, Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy Zorana Mihajlovic said that Serbia has secured the replacement for Russian crude oil, which it will not be able to import as of 1 November due to western sanctions. She said that, as of 1 November, Serbia will primarily import Kirkuk oil, followed by oil from domestic production which covers some 20 % of the demand, as well as oil from Iran and other sources.
Last year, Russian crude oil represented only 25 % of total amount processed in Pancevo refinery. However, since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, the share of Russian crude jumped to 55 % because it is cheaper.