Prague - The Czech Republic needs Russian oil, in view of its refinery structure, which is why Kiev´s possible cut of Russian oil supplies via Ukraine would complicate the situation for Czechs more than a possible cut of gas supplies, Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek said.
Mladek spoke to journalists after discussing a possible impact of the EU sanctions against Russia and vice versa with PM Bohuslav Sobotka (both Social Democrats, CSSD) and other three ministers.
Mladek estimated that the sanctions will cut the sales of Czech companies by 2.5 billion crowns and threaten 830 jobs in the Czech Republic.
While announcing Kiev´s sanctions against Russia, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arsenyi Yatsenyuk did not rule out that the planned measures may concern the Russian gas transit via Ukraine to Europe.
Transneft, the Russian oil pipeline monopoly operator, said that if Ukraine halted the oil transit as well, it would raise the prices of oil for Europeans, mainly Czechs and Slovaks, as the oil flow would need rerouting.
Mladek said as far as gas is concerned, the Czech Republic can import it through different channels. The situation would be worse for the countries to the south of Slovakia, he said.
The problem would be bigger for Czechs if the oil [flow were cut], but if so, oil could be imported in tankers via the Trieste seaport, Italy, Mladek said.
"Nevertheless, of course, it would be much better if the Druzhba oil pipeline remained in operation," Mladek said.
"Thanks to the pipelines Nordstream, Opal and Gazela, the Czech Republic is basically capable of importing Russian gas through other channels than via Ukraine," Mladek said.
He said the Czech Republic is capable of supplying its eastern neighbour Slovakia with gas as well.
He said the EU sanctions against Russia will cut the sales of Czech companies by 2.2 billion crowns and threaten 700 jobs, while the Russian embargo is likely to reduce the sales by 300 million crowns and jeopardise 130 jobs.
The Czech government has established a team to assess the sanctions and monitor their impact. It will be headed by Tomas Prouza, the Government Office´s state secretary for European affairs, and it will include deputy finance, foreign affairs, industry and agriculture ministers.