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Germany seizes management of Rosneft oil refineries


The German authorities has taken management of three refineries owned by Russian oil firm Rosneft, in an escalation of the vitality struggle between Moscow and the west triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz mentioned his authorities had not taken the step flippantly, however that “it was unavoidable”.

“Now we have recognized for a very long time that Russia is not a dependable vitality provider,” he mentioned on Friday. “That’s why it’s essential to do all the things we will now to safeguard Germany’s vitality provide.”

The transfer is a part of efforts by the federal government to guard the German economy from the consequences of an EU-wide embargo on Russian crude, which comes into impact on January 1 and is designed to deprive Russian president Vladimir Putin of revenues to fund the Ukraine struggle.

The transfer secures the way forward for PCK, a refinery owned by Rosneft within the north-eastern German town of Schwedt, which was anticipated to be arduous hit by the looming oil embargo.

PCK sits atop the Druzhba pipeline, which carries crude about 4,000km from central Russia on to Schwedt. Efforts by authorities to safe various provides of oil for the refinery had been sophisticated by the truth that Rosneft is its majority proprietor, controlling 54 per cent of its shares.

“It is a far-reaching determination on vitality coverage geared toward defending our nation,” Scholz mentioned. “We’re making ourselves extra unbiased of Russia and the choices which are made someplace over there.”

An announcement issued by the German financial system ministry on Friday mentioned the federal government was inserting Rosneft Deutschland GmbH and RN Refining & Advertising and marketing GmbH underneath the trusteeship of the Bundesnetzagentur (BNA), the nation’s federal vitality regulator.

That places Rosneft’s stakes in three German refineries — PCK in Schwedt, MiRo in Karlsruhe and Bayernoil within the Bavarian city of Vohburg — underneath the BNA’s management. Rosneft accounts for about 12 per cent of Germany’s oil refining capability, making it one of many largest oil processing firms within the nation, the ministry mentioned.

From left: Financial system minister Robert Habeck, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Brandenburg governor Dietmar Woidke at a press convention on Friday © Jens Schlueter/AFP/Getty Photos

The transfer on Rosneft’s property was seen as doubtless after Germany amended a key vitality regulation in August permitting the federal government to position firms with “infrastructure vital to Germany’s safety of provide” underneath short-term trusteeship. The regulation stipulated that as a final resort, the federal government might even expropriate such firms.

The choice to grab management of Rosneft’s property mirrored a transfer in April, when the federal government placed Gazprom Germania, the German subsidiary of Kremlin-controlled gasoline exporter Gazprom, underneath BNA trusteeship. The property of the corporate, which has now been renamed SEFE, embody Germany’s largest gasoline storage facility, Rehden.

The transfer on Rosneft is the newest in a string of measures by the German authorities to cope with the chaos attributable to Russia’s struggle in Ukraine, which has pushed European gasoline and electrical energy costs to report ranges.

Germany has accused the Kremlin of “weaponising” its vitality exports to Europe by throttling the circulation of gasoline by means of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline between Russia and Germany.

As gasoline provides dwindled, Berlin moved to bail out Uniper, the nation’s largest importer of Russian gasoline, which has been pushed to the brink of insolvency. Uniper mentioned this week that the federal government could increase its stake within the firm to greater than 50 per cent.

The financial system ministry mentioned that by inserting Rosneft’s German property underneath trusteeship, “we’re countering the risk to the safety of [Germany’s] vitality provide and setting a vital basis stone for the preservation and way forward for the Schwedt web site”.

The federal government mentioned it had been pressured to intervene as a result of the Russian possession of the refineries had positioned their enterprise operations “at risk”.

“Key, vital service suppliers similar to suppliers, insurance coverage firms, banks, IT firms, but in addition clients, had been not ready to work with Rosneft — not with refineries the place Rosneft is a shareholder, nor with its Russian subsidiaries RDG and RNRM,” the financial system ministry mentioned.

PCK, which has a workforce of 1,200, is the primary provider of petrol, diesel, jet kerosene and gasoline oil to Berlin and the encompassing area, Brandenburg, and is seen as a key component of japanese Germany’s vitality infrastructure.

Many Schwedt residents started to worry for the way forward for the refinery after Germany signed as much as the EU’s oil embargo and voluntarily dedicated to wind down its use of Russian crude imported by way of Druzhba by the top of the 12 months.

The pipeline has a brief exemption that enables some nations on the road — similar to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — to proceed receiving Russian provides past December, however Germany and Poland have successfully opted out of utilizing it after 2022.

The federal government mentioned it could make investments €825mn over the following 15 years in PCK and the area surrounding it to safeguard its financial future and switch the plant right into a “inexperienced refinery”. “Immediately . . . marks the start of Schwedt’s carbon-neutral transformation,” mentioned Dietmar Woidke, governor of Brandenburg.

There are additionally plans for a €400mn improve of the oil pipeline operating from the Baltic Sea port of Rostock to Schwedt, which might present another provide to that of Druzhba. A plan is in place to extend the circulation of oil by means of the Rostock line from 5mn to 7mn tonnes a 12 months at current to 9mn tonnes, which might permit PCK to function at 75 per cent capability.

Germany can be in talks with Poland to provide PCK with oil by way of the Polish port of Gdansk. Warsaw had initially been unwilling to supply oil to a refinery owned and managed by Rosneft. Robert Habeck, the German financial system minister, mentioned talks with Poland had been now “properly superior”.

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