Troublesome Slovak-Austrian Oil Pipeline Still Under Debate

The much debated route for the planned oil pipeline to Austria through the Slovak territory is still causing trouble, as all proposed variants are still not acceptable by environmental activists.

Greenpeace demonstration - photo: Branislav Blascak (Greenpeace)

Work on laying the pipeline leading to the Schwechat refinery in Austria could start immediately, as the necessary permits have already been issued, but the route through highly sensitive ecosystems in Slovakia has still not been decided on.

The project, involving Transpetrol on the Slovak side and OMV on the Austrian side, has been in the pipeline since 2003 and the initially proposed route was to steamroll through the protected nature reserve of Zitny Ostrov on the Danube, which is home to various rare and exclusive fauna and flora. It is also the site of the most abundant reservoir of drinking water in Slovakia.

Thanks to the determined efforts of Greenpeace and other demonstrators, though, this alternative was shelved by the government manifesto in 2010. Slovakia therefore proposed several alternative routes, which satisfy, at least formally, environmental legislation. There are said to be 10 alternatives along two variant corridors, and they are being analysed with regard to their environmental impacts.

The civil association ‘Say no to the Pipeline Through Zitny Ostrov’ organised a small demonstration in front of the Government Office last week to protest against the other routes suggested by the Slovak Ministry of Economy.

Miskov: "It's a good project" (c) The Daily

The association feels that all ten alternatives being examined are accompanied by serious environmental risks, chiefly as they pass through agricultural and populated areas or through the Carpathian mountain range. The activists point out that the pipeline project could seriously damage or destroy the precious reservoirs of drinking water in Slovakia.

The association also points to the fact that for Slovakia the pipeline has no strategic importance and is a purely commercial venture. The Ministry of Economy reacted to the protest by stating that the proposed routes are still under review and that nothing is final.

Even so, economy minister Juraj Miskov referred to the project itself as extremely good, and one that will help Slovakia utilise the Druzhba pipeline better. The Ministry issued a statement that they would be seeking to find the optimum route with minimum environmental impact, but activists are still resolute that nothing good can come of the project as the environmental risks are too high.

Economy minister Miskov argues that the project would generate around EUR 15 million extra per year from use of the Druzhba pipeline, but also that it would give Slovakia additional security using reverse-flow operation if supplies from the east were to be halted.

The Ministry of Economy must now analyse the alternatives and produce an economic analysis by the end of September, but there are also those within the government coalition that do not agree with the project.

Simon: project is pointless (c) The Daily

One opponent is agriculture minister Zsolt Simon, who feels that Slovakia is basically trying to deal with what he called “Austria’s problem”, as only it would benefit from the project in terms of energy security. Simon called on the government to stop looking at alternatives and to start asking whether or not the investment was worth it at all.


  1. It is no brush off George, just the truth. Let’s say then it is only MY opinion. My opinion doesn’t need substantiating, does it? Obviously more people were critical of Slovakia for refusing, but that was not the point I was making. Only that it was appreciated for its boldness “….various discussions since Slovakia turned down the loan have shown that Slovakia got a lot of respect from different corners …..”

  2. I do try not be rude to people and that appear to give me the brush off , but you claim you are Editor in Chief of the The Daily.SK ?

    No one actually gives a tinker cuss what I say , but if you personally join in the conversations as EinC and you are unable or unwilling to substantiate your own statements, claims or views , where does that really leave the rest of us …… ?

  3. John, I’d like to know who and the source of the ‘Credit’ you claim Slovakia has obtained over not joining the Loan Scheme ?

    What people say in public is not always their private view or government and of course, vis versa.

    1. yes, hypocrisy is strong. Unfortunately, I dont have the time to start seeking the things I have read, seen and heard over the past year, but believe me, it wasn’t my neighbours or the parking ticket guy…

  4. Well thank god one of us has some Economist knowledge .The Greeks lied big time to join the Euro and the current Greek governments lacked the nerve to cut public wages and pension payments, which make up 51 percent of its entire budget. Over the past decade, Greece took full advantage of a strong euro and rock-bottom interest rates to fuel a debt run by the country’s consumers and its overspending government.

    read more here to bring you both upto speed .

    1. Well, nothing I didn’t know there George … but thanks anyway

  5. I’m not an economist but isn’t it generally believed that, without the bailout of Greece, the whole Eurozone would have been deep in it? Now there is obviously good reason to also believe that Greece shouldn’t have been allowed to join the Euro in the first place since they seem to have violated certain conditions of entry. But once they were in, and in a mess, there was little alternative to bailing them out. It was either that or risk losing the currency.

    Slovakia was keen to jump on the Euro bandwagon itself and keen too to enjoy what it perceived to be the various benefits of membership. If it didn’t want to help bail out countries like Greece, perhaps it (and I mean politicians like Mr Miklos) should have looked a bit more closely at certain things before joining.

    The Euro has been said to be not only a currency but also a symbol of solidarity between those who are in it. That means helping each other out when times get tough – in other words accepting the losses as well as the benefits.

    And I’d say Slovakia’s ‘stand’, such as it was (and for a lot of the time they were saying one thing publicly and doing another privately), was actually pretty opportunist. They could also make it safe in the knowledge that Germany would be the country taking most of the responsibility.

    1. Very true also James. Maybe not Slovakia, but the EU, should have looked more closely at the swindling Greece was doing. Surely they must have seen it a long-time coming. Hard to say what really would have happened if a loan had been refused altogether, but probably not such a pleasant scenario. I am also no economist, so won’t pretend I am.

  6. Sorry George, I don’t understand your point or argument here. I don’t disagree with anything you say above, but the various discussions since Slovakia turned down the loan have shown that Slovakia got a lot of respect from different corners for what it did.

  7. John, I actually dont believe Slovakia anything as you do claim and this was actually confirmed today with my lunch with the Leader of Parliament . Whilst he was against the Greek loan in principle as a businessman, he know at some point theses hens will come to roost and when Slovakia needs some assistance, perhaps in the future . I just feel this was all saving face PR by the Reichstag, so the whole idea and the Eurozone did not fall apart . That fact was Slovaks silly little share contribution mattered not much in the big picture. But when you join a Syndicate, you do have to take some share of the losses, as you do the benefits gained or people start to get all pissy.

  8. Actually George, Slovakia has gained a lot of respect for what it did about the Greek loan, because the rest of Europe realised afterwards that they should have done the same, including Merkel who said that if Germany was not such a key component of the system, it too would have preferred to refuse the loan. Believe it or not, Slovakia has a bit of clout in the EU now because it is not conforming just for the sake of it.

  9. This is a little disappointing …not really on the edge reporting, more a fanatic’s spleen venting . I guess the Tree Huggers will win this one, as some cretin drunk hunter , who is out for an afternoons sport, could blast a hole in it whilst shooting at a cat .

    Although in principle they are correct, I just wish Greenpeace etc , did not have to oppose just everything, that helps Slovakia’s progress and standing in the EU. At the moment , I feel the country has little credit among their EU peers having refused to join the Euro Loan for Greece , comments over NATO and now differing over this International pipeline .

  10. Exactly Vlado, that is the whole point. There are no major benefits for Slovakia and talk of reverse-flow is fine for natural gas (which is already practicable) but maybe not such a huge advantage in the case of oil. Maybe the only benefit is for some people with fat wallets to get them fatter.

  11. Other than the rights to build this pipeline and the 15 million a year extra income , why must Slovakia take all the spill-accident undertaking to the water supply ?

    What about the risks ? An earthquake, a meteor, a dirty bomb, the Taliban, Al Qaeda , an Austrian Nationalistic Terrorist, the Tooting Popular Front, or plain good old crap Slovak workmanship ????

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