© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: German Economy and Climate Change Minister Robert Habeck gestures during a news conference on measures to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions and Germany’s dependance on Russian energy imports amid the Russian war on Ukraine, in Berlin, April
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany is preparing for a change of control at the PCK refinery in Schwedt operated by Russian state-owned Rosneft that accounts for all of Germany’s remaining Russian oil imports, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Wednesday.
Germany has set out plans to become independent of Russian oil, which would make a European Union oil embargo manageable for Europe’s biggest economy.
It has reduced the proportion of oil it sources from Russia to 12% from 35%, leaving PCK the only remaining consumer of Russian oil in the country.
Rosneft “is not interested in not refining Russian oil. If I call them and ask, ‘What are you doing to become independent of Russian oil’, they won’t even pick up the phone,” Habeck said in a video posted on Twitter (NYSE:) by the economy ministry.
PCK supplies parts of eastern Germany, including Germany’s capital Berlin, as well as western Poland.
In the video posted on Wednesday, Habeck said he was nearing an agreement with Poland following talks he held there on Tuesday. “We made good progress. Now it’s about technical details,” he said.
Under Habeck’s plans, part of the supply for PCK would be shipped via the German Baltic Sea port of Rostock, and Habeck said solidarity from Poland was needed to supply the rest.
“The Poles say, quite rightly, ‘We don’t want to bring Polish oil to Germany to keep Schwedt alive’,” Habeck said in the video.
“But we are speaking about a case where Germany supports Poland and Poland supports Germany in the event that Rosneft is no longer the operator of the refinery,” he said, without elaborating.
One option could be expropriation.
Germany’s Cabinet this week approved a legislative amendment that would make it easier for Germany to take control of assets and firms critical to its energy supply, a move that came in response to the growing risk of disruptions.
Asked at a news conference on Wednesday whether Germany could consider expropriating the Schwedt refinery, Habeck said: “We are in a situation where the German government must adapt to and prepare for all scenarios.”
Habeck said that Germany could cope with an EU oil embargo once a solution for PCK is found.
“If we had a transition period to organise ships that can bring oil to Rostock, that use the port there to supply Schwedt, we would be able to manage an oil embargo,” he said.