RIGA-TALLINN - While Lithuanian officials scramble to come up with sufficient crude to keep the Mazeikiu refinery running, Estonians and Latvians reacted coolly to the prospect that Russia's pipeline deliveries of crude to Lithuania would dry up.
Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said that Mazeikiu Nafta's supply problems would not affect Estonia's fuel supply as there were also other channels. "Statoil has refineries in Denmark and Norway and Neste in Porvoo, Finland. There should be no problems of supply if the Mazeikiai plant comes to a standstill," he told a government press conference last week.
The prime minister said the major Estonian fuel retailers had large reserves of up to three weeks, and a fuel tanker would arrive in Estonia from Norway in three or four days. He said it would be slightly cheaper to transport fuel by train from Lithuania but it would not have a significant effect on the fuel price.
In Ansip's opinion, the Mazeikiai problem would not have a serious effect on Estonia, even if the worst scenario should unfold. "I can see no reason why we should start storing fuel in canisters in our garages," he said.
Russian oil supply to the Mazeikiai refinery ceased last week after a Belarus-based spur of the Druzhba oil pipeline began leaking. (See story on Page 1.) The pipeline could be inoperative for up to one year.
In Latvia, fuel traders said Mazeikiai's problems were not affecting their operations for the time being.
Maris Arins, wholesale head of Neste Latvija fuel trader, said that, for the time being, Mazeikiu Nafta was ensuring fuel supplies to the company. "For now, we do not see any problems," he said.
Arins indicated that Neste Latvija would follow developments and look for the best alternative suppliers on the market in case of necessity.
Latvija Statoil representative Eriks Ulmanis said the situation at Mazeikiu Nafta would not affect Latvija Statoil operations since the fuel retailer has been selling Scandinavian-made gasoline at its filling stations since the second half of 2005.
Haims Kogans, deputy board chairman of Lukoil Baltija R fuel retailer, said if Mazeikiu Nafta was unable to supply fuel to Latvian traders in the necessary amounts, the company would seek other options to purchase fuel in the European market. Kogans also noted that, in case of urgency, Lukoil Baltija R would be ready to use its fuel reserves.
Mazeikiu Nafta representative Giedris Karsokas has said that problems with oil supplies to the refinery would not cause shortages of oil products in the Baltic states.