(Frankfurt) The energy confrontation between Berlin and Moscow took a new step this Friday with Germany putting under supervision the activities of the Russian giant Rosneft in the country, in order to “secure” its oil supply.
Posted yesterday at 9:14 am
Rosneft’s subsidiaries in Germany, which account for 12% of the country’s oil refining capacity, are under “trusteeship” mandated by the national agency that manages energy networks, the Economy Ministry announced.
With this tutelage, “it is about responding to the risks that weigh on the security of supplies” of energy in the country, the ministry specified.
The subsidiaries Rosneft Germany (RDG) and the company RN Refining & Marketing (RNRM) have shares in three major refineries in the country.
The German government thus takes control of the PCK refinery in Schwedt, in the east of the country, where Rosneft has a majority stake (54.2%) and which supplies fuel to the capital Berlin, its airport and the entire surrounding region.
At the other two sites in question, MiRo in Karlsruhe and Bayernoil in Vohburg, Rosneft has a minority stake along with other major Western oil players.
The guardianship takes effect Friday and is initially limited to six months.
In this way “we are becoming less dependent on Russia and the decisions that are made there,” said Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz during a press conference.
Previous in gas
Berlin already took control at the beginning of April of the former German subsidiary of Gazprom, Gazprom Germania, to secure its gas supply this time.
Since then, the German government has had to release aid of 9 to 10 billion euros to save this entity threatened with bankruptcy.
Now it is the future supply of oil that must be guaranteed, the EU having decided on an embargo on Russian oil after the war initiated by Moscow in the Ukraine.
The Schwedt refinery so far only processes Russian oil transported via the Druzhba (“friendship” in Russian) pipeline. But since Berlin has promised to end Russian imports by the end of the year, the government must force the conversion of the site.
By taking control, Berlin also wants to prevent the refinery from being stripped of certain assets by its owner, or even liquidated entirely, for lack of sufficient cash or Russian oil.
At Schwedt, “we could have found ourselves in a situation where security of supply is no longer guaranteed,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters.
What future for Schwedt?
Berlin has spent months looking for alternatives to Russian oil to ensure the maintenance of activity in Schwedt, an industrial estate located about a hundred kilometers from Berlin.
On site, the 1,200 employees of this former East German communist factory, supplied with Russian oil since the 1960s, are worried about the future.
“We must make sure that workers don’t have to worry about their future,” insisted Mr. Scholz, presenting a plan for the refinery’s transformation on Friday.
The Government and the regions intend to dedicate “more than a billion euros” to it in the coming years.
The idea is that the refinery can be supplied with oil through the ports of Rostock, in the north of the country, and Gdansk, in Poland.
To do this, the pipeline connected to Rostock will be “modernized” so that larger flows can be routed to Schwedt, and parallel discussions are taking place with Warsaw.
However, the chancellor and his minister did not assure on Friday that the quantities of Russian oil processed at the site could be fully offset by alternative deliveries.
“We have a good chance of having enough oil to run the refinery,” Habeck said.
Europe’s largest economy has already slashed its dependence on Russian oil imports, which made up 35% of its supplies before Russia’s war in Ukraine.
At the same time, Russia has temporarily stopped its gas shipments to the country, which will not be able to fully replenish it before 2024, according to the latest government forecasts.
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