Ukraine resumes Russian oil flows to Hungary, Slovakia as bills settle

FILE PHOTO: The receiver station of the Druzhba oil pipeline between Hungary and Russia is seen at the Hungarian MOL Group's Danube Refinery in Szazhalombatta

(Reuters) - Oil flows have resumed from Russia to Hungary and Slovakia via the Ukrainian section of the Druzhba oil pipeline, Ukraine's Naftogaz said on Thursday, days after being suspended over payment issues.

Naftogaz's JSC Ukrtransnafta pipeline operator said it resumed operations upon receiving payment from Hungarian oil company MOL on Wednesday evening.

Ukraine had halted Russian oil shipments via Druzhba on Aug. 4 after Western sanctions prevented it from receiving transit fees from Moscow.

The suspension of pipeline flows on Tuesday affected Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic as all rely heavily on Russian crude and have limited ability to import alternative supply by sea.

The pipeline operator said that no funds were received from PJSC Transneft, a state-controlled pipeline transport company headquartered in Moscow. MOL, the Hungarian oil company, being the main consumer of oil transported by the southern branch of Druzhba oil truck pipeline, took the initiative to undertake to pay transit fee for Russian oil transportation.

Ukrtransnafta also said that it has not received any data on transit fee payment from the Czech Republic so far, or any official letters from Transneft informing that MERO, the company operating the section of Druzhba pipeline in the Czech Republic, would pay transit frees for the oil flows to that country.

Meanwhile, Czech pipeline operator MERO's chairman Jaroslav Pantucek said on Thursday that oil flows through the Druzhba pipeline to the Czech Republic should resume within two days as problems with paying transit fees should be resolved.

(Reporting by Rachna Dhanrajani in Bengaluru; editing by Grant McCool)