Tatneft Reroutes Czech Oil Supplies to Turkey

Tatneft, one of two key suppliers of Russian crude to the Czech Republic, said Tuesday that it had reduced the deliveries because it had rerouted volumes to Turkey to get better prices.

Russian officials have said last week's cut in oil flows to the Czech Republic via the Druzhba pipeline were of a technical nature, denying that it was linked to Prague's role in a U.S. missile-defense shield.

State pipeline monopoly Transneft coordinates the supplies, of which one-third belong to Tatneft and two-thirds to another midsized producer, Bashneft, which has declined to comment.

"We were simply lacking volumes to meet our supply plan for [Turkish refiner] Tupras," said Nurislam Subayev, adviser to Tatneft's deputy general director. Tupras is Turkey's biggest refiner.

Subayev declined to specify the scale of the cut and said Tatneft would soon return to normal supply volumes to the Czech Republic via Druzhba.

Transneft has said both Tatneft and Bashneft reduced supplies to the Czech Republic only because the two firms had decided to refine more crude at home.

Prague has said the Foreign Ministry's explanations focused on problems with domestic oil extraction, which the Czech Foreign Ministry said it found hard to believe, given that its neighbors had avoided cuts in their supplies. The Russian Foreign Ministry said only that the cuts were of a commercial nature.