Minister calls for immediate embargo on Russian oil and gas

Ljubljana – Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec has called on the EU to impose an embargo on the imports of Russian oil and gas as soon as possible, arguing that this is the only way to secure peace in Ukraine.

“Peace does not and cannot have a price in the EU. Human life does not have a price. This is why Slovenia – despite the extraordinary reliance on Russian energy – is in favour of an immediate embargo,” Vrtovec told the press on Friday.

He said Russia was financing its military aggression with proceeds from oil and gas. “As a civilised society, we cannot be indifferent to reports about the suffering of innocent civilians.”

While acknowledging that the import ban would be “a huge test” for the entire EU, he said this obstacle can be overcome if the EU is united.

Slovenia gets 30% of oil and 90% of gas from Russia, but Vrtovec says that even if an embargo is imposed immediately, supplies will not run out.

The country has a 90-day stockpile of oil derivatives, which would give suppliers enough time to shift to non-Russian sources.

For gas, Vrtovec finds is particularly important to provide a stockpile for next winter from countries such as Algeria and Morocco, via the Italian gas network.

An existing pipeline on the Italian border currently runs at 2.5 million cubic metres per day and talks are under way with the national gas pipeline operator, Plinovodi, to increase capacity to 4.1 million cubic metres.

It is also possible to increase supplies from Croatia’s gas terminal on Krk island. A meeting with the Croatian energy minister is scheduled for 4 April and this will be one of the topics of talks.

“Via Krk and Italy, Slovenia can import enough gas to become independent of Russian gas,” he said.

Beyond alternative fossil fuel supplies, Slovenia plans to step up deployment of solar. Vrtovec said additional funds would be secured to incentivise solar uptake via the Eco Fund.