Prague - Two new tanks to boost the oil storage capacity in the central oil storage site in Nelahozeves around 40 km north of Prague were opened Wednesday.
The new tanks will allow the country to raise strategic oil reserves to be used in case of oil supply disruption, as it happened in July this year when Russia decreased the oil supply.
"We all remember the summer oil cuts from the [Russian] Druzhba pipeline," said Alexandr Vondra, deputy prime minister for the EU Affairs at the opening ceremony.
These stocks should last up to 100 days of national oil consumption. Every EU member state is obliged to have at least a 90-day reserve. This obligation was introduced after the oil crisis in 1970s.
Four months of energy security
A regulation is under way that will increase the number of days the reserves are supposed to cover from 90 to as many as 120 days.
The newly opened tanks have each a capacity of 125,000 cubic meters. With the latest addition, there are 16 tanks of total capacity of 1.55 million cubic meters.
Supplied by two pipelines
The oil stored by the Administration of the State Material Reserves flows into the country from two directions: from Russia through Druzhba pipeline and from Caspian, Middle Eastern and Maghreb regions via TAL pipeline that transports oil to Ingolstadt, Bavaria and subsequently through IKL that transports oil from nearby Vohburg to the Czech Republic.
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It is somewhat impossible to rely entirely on these two pipelines. The TAL pipeline supplies the country only when its capacities are free, and Russia has a bad record of arbitrarily limiting the oil supply to Europe from time to time.
Russia is the key supplier of oil to the Czech Republic having decreased its supplies down to half after the Czech government signed an agreement with the U.S. to station the radar base on Czech soil.
"At present, neither EU nor NATO are able to help their member states in case of the oil shortage," Alexandr Vondra explained during the opening ceremony.
The new tanks are of a cylindrical shape with 84 meters in diameter and 24 meters in height.
State-owned company MERO that owns the tanks believes they are the world's biggest of their kind.
When stored in this way, the oil can be preserved only for a short period - from seven to fifteen years. That's why it is necessary to change it from time to time.