September 16, 2022 [Reuters] – The German subsidiary of Russian oil giant Rosneft (ROSN.MM) was placed under trusteeship on Friday, giving Germany’s federal regulator control of the PCK refinery in Schwedt, a key source of fuel for the city of Berlin.
Rosneft Deutschland, which was previously majority owned by Rosneft, has tested Germany’s resolve to eliminate imports of oil from Russia by the end of the year under European sanctions to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
“With the trusteeship, the threat to the security of energy supply is countered and an essential foundation stone is set for the preservation and future of the Schwedt site,” Germany’s economy ministry said in a statement.
Rosneft Deutschland accounts for about 12% of Germany’s oil processing capacity and is one of the largest oil processing companies in the country, the ministry said.
Friday’s move escalates already tense relations with Russia despite Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussing the situation in Ukraine in a phone call on Tuesday.
German government sources had said ahead of the announcement that a potential immediate halt to Russian oil supplies would have to be factored in with a decision to place Rosneft Deutschland under trusteeship.
The landlocked Schwedt refinery is Germany’s fourth-largest, supplying 90% of the capital’s fuel, and has received all its crude from Russia via the Druzhba pipeline since the plant was built in the 1960s.
Parts of western Poland are also supplied by Schwedt, as is Berlin-Brandenburg Airport.
Friday’s move is accompanied by a “comprehensive package” designed to ensure oil can be supplied to the refinery by alternative routes, the ministry said.
It is unclear who could step in to replace Rosneft as operator of the refinery. British oil major Shell , which owns a 37.5% stake in Schwedt, has wanted to withdraw for some time.
Verbio (VBKG.DE) and Enertrag, both from the renewables energy sector, have expressed interest.
With the trusteeship, the Federal Network Agency regulator also takes over Rosneft Deutschland’s shares in the MiRo and Bayernoil refineries in Karlsruhe and Vohburg respectively.
Chancellor Scholz, Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Brandenburg’s state premier are due to unveil details of the package at 1130 GMT.
The government’s move to put Rosneft Deutschland in the hands of the Federal Network Agency follows a similar move by Berlin with SEFE, formerly known as Gazprom Germania, which came under trusteeship after Gazprom (GAZP.MM) ditched it in April.
Reporting by Paul Carrel Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and David Goodman
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