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Germany tells Rosneft 'find buyer or lose refinery'

March 8, 2024

Berlin has renewed threats to expropriate a Rosneft refinery in Germany if the Russian company cannot find a buyer within six months. The Economy Ministry said the sale should be final and Rosneft not allowed to return.

The PCK oil refinery in Schwedt, Germany, seen at night
The Schwedt facility is one of three Rosneft-majority-owned oil refineries in GermanyImage: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/dpa

Germany's Economy Ministry on Friday said it had renewed its trusteeship of Russian oil company Rosneft's PCK refinery in the eastern German city of Schwedt but noted that it told the company it needs to present a buyer within the next six months or risk losing the facility altogether.

Berlin has acted as a trustee for Rosneft's German assets since September 2022, but refrained from nationalizing them as the Russian company had signaled a willingness to sell.

Germany says Rosneft will not be allowed to seek temporary owners that would allow the company to buy back its 54.17% stake in the Schwedt refinery, saying it wanted the company gone for good.

"It's now up to the Russian side to present possible buyers," said Michael Kellner a state secretary at the Economy Ministry.

"The question of expropriation remains on the table. It is clear that we need a permanent solution for the three refinery sites," Kellner said, referring to additional Rosneft holdings at Germany's MiRO and Bayernoil refineries.

Germany has already nationalized SEFE (Securing Energy for Europe), a former Gazprom subsidiary, and Russia has taken control of German assets, including Uniper and Wintershall Dea, in response.

Kellner said trusteeship over the Schwedt refinery was an important tool to ensure that both jobs and supplies remained secure until a new owner could be found, adding, "By renewing our trusteeship we have won time to allow Rosneft assets to be sold."

The Schwedt refinery has been supplied with oil from various non-Russian sources since early 2023 after Germany reassessed its dependence on Russian gas and oil in the wake of Moscow's invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February 2022. Most of the EU has stopped directly importing Russian oil as a result of the bloc's sanctions.

Schwedt is a town of roughly 35,000 people northeast of Berlin, right by the border to Poland.

Germany takes control of Rosneft refinery

js/msh (dpa, Reuters)

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