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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fuel Ban to Estonia Short-Lived

Russian Railways has lifted restrictions on oil products exports to Estonia, traders said Tuesday, adding that the latest short-lived ban has added to uncertainty over the future of the politically unsafe route.

Traders with Russian oil firms and at Estonian terminals said fuel oil flows from three major Russian refineries have returned to normal last week, just two weeks after the railway issued an unofficial order to halve supplies.

"It looks like all [cargoes] are moving again, but we are in the dark as to how much we will get in August because there is no confirmation [from Russia] of the overall volumes," a source at a major terminal in Estonia said.

Russian Railways has repeatedly imposed sanctions on shipments toward Estonia since May, after political relations with Tallinn soured.

Previous reductions have halted gasoline and naphtha exports, leaving the light products-focused terminals mostly dry, while the latest round of restrictions affected fuel oil -- a key export that had been largely unaffected until July.

TNK-BP's Ryazan refinery, Surgut's Kirishi refinery and the Yaroslavl plant, half owned by TNK-BP and Gazprom Neft, are the key fuel oil shippers via Estonia.

"Kirishi seems fully back to normal with fuel oil supplies. And we are hearing it is also the case with Gazprom Neft and TNK-BP. Some volumes have been rerouted to Klaipeda [in Lithuania], but all in all Estonian business is back to normal," a Russian trader said.

Moscow's relations with Tallinn hit a low in April when Estonia removed the statue of a Red Army soldier from the center of its capital, angering Moscow.