Oil pipeline Druzhba celebrates 60 years  

Jaroslav Sládek

The Druzhba pipeline, which still carries Russian oil to the Czech Republic today, was put into operation 60 years ago on February 22, 1962. The world’s longest oil pipeline, which is more than 5,000 kilometers long, started operating on that day and began delivering oil to the largest Czechoslovak refinery, Bratislava-based Slovnaft.

A few years later, the pipes also brought crude oil to Czech refineries in Kolín, Pardubice, Kralupy, and Litvínov. Less than 30 years later, raw material dependence on Russia forced the construction of a second pipeline, this time from Ingolstadt in Germany.

The Druzhba pipeline in the Czech Republic is directly connected to its Slovak part, which is linked to the Russian pipeline network via Ukraine and Belarus.

The Czech part of the Druzhba pipeline was put into operation in stages – the essential part in 1964 and 1965. In the following years, the channel was completed, and the relevant duplications were used to transport oil. The total length of the Druzhba pipeline route in the Czech Republic, including the doublings, is now 473 kilometers. The transport capacity of the Czech section of the pipeline is nine million tonnes of oil per year.

Until 1989, former Czechoslovakia imported up to 18 million tonnes of oil per year from the former Soviet Union exclusively via this pipeline. Since 1994, the Druzhba pipeline has been managed on Czech territory by MERO.