Ministry: Up to companies whether to utilize Russian oil import exemption

Freight train in Estonia.
Freight train in Estonia. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' published list of companies that have applied for a Russian oil import exemption reflects those who had existing contracts with Russian businesses or intentions of importing oil. Whether a company utilizes the exemption or not, however, will remain up to them, said Undersecretary Erki Kodar.

Estonia's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday published a list of companies that had applied for exemptions that would allow them to continue importing oil products from Russia during a transition period. The EU imposed sanctions on Russian oil imports this June.

Currently at issue are two exemptions — one for crude oils derived from petroleum and bituminous minerals, which may be imported through December 5, and another for other petroleum oils and oils derived from bituminous minerals as well as oils which are the basic constituents of these preparations and waste oils, which may be imported through February 5. That is — in cases where contracts were concluded prior to June 4 this year.

"If they wanted to import at all, these businesses had to inform the Foreign Ministry of this by June 24," explained Kodar, the undersecretary for legal and consular affairs, adding that the ministry in turn forwarded the names of these businesses to the European Commission. "If there are any one-off short-term supply transactions, these must be reported within 10 days as well."

Businesses were informed in June that they must report existing contracts to the ministry.

"They communicated very clearly to us what existing contracts they have, what their contract volumes, contractual partners are," he said. "This is information we cannot publish, as it falls under each business' proprietary information, which we are guarding very closely."

The undersecretary noted that informing the ministry indicated businesses either had existing contracts or intentions of executing short-term supply contracts.

"The intention to apply for this exemption and report existing contracts [to us] indicates that a business wants to reserve the opportunity to use this exemption through the end of the transition period," he said. "Whether it is utilized is up to the business."

The list published Tuesday included two companies connected to Estonian energy company Alexela — Nord Terminals AS and Alexela Bunkering. Alexela said that these companies are both purely transit companies that don't have a single contractual Russian client, nor has either company declared a single ton of goods for domestic consumption.

"Whether they ultimately utilize this exemption or not is for them to decide, but what's certain is that they have declared and we have informed the Commission that they have existing contracts," Kodar said.

The list of companies has been submitted to the European Commission; further companies will not be added to the list.

According to the undersecretary, the businesses' contract volumes in question aren't very big.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that, considering these companies' areas of activity and the information we've been sent, these are mostly bunkering and transit companies that primarily re-export from Estonia, and we don't believe that large volumes will reach the retail market from here."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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