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ENERGY

Germany seizes Russian energy firm’s subsidiaries

Berlin on Friday took control of the German operations of Russian oil firm Rosneft to secure energy supplies which have been disrupted after Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Crude oil processing facilities on the site of PCK-Raffinerie GmbH in Schwedt/Oder.
Crude oil processing facilities on the site of PCK-Raffinerie GmbH in Schwedt/Oder. To secure the operation of refineries, the German government is placing crude oil importers Rosneft Deutschland (RDG) and RN Refining & Marketing GmbH under control of the Federal Network Agency. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Patrick Pleul

Rosneft’s German subsidiaries, which account for about 12 percent of oil refining capacity in the country, were placed under trusteeship of the Federal Network Agency, the economy ministry said in a statement.

“The trust management will counter the threat to the security of energy supply,” it said.

The seizures come as Germany is scrambling to wean itself off its dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Moscow has stopped natural gas deliveries to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

The move covers the companies Rosneft Deutschland GmbH (RDG) and RN Refining & Marketing GmbH (RNRM) and thereby their corresponding stakes in three refineries: PCK Schwedt, MiRo and Bayernoil.

Fears had been running high particularly for PCK Schwedt, which is close to the Polish border and supplies around 90 percent of the oil used in Berlin and the surrounding region, including Berlin-Brandenburg international airport.

The refineries’ operations had been disrupted as the German government decided to slash Russian oil imports, with an aim to halt them completely by year’s end.

By taking control of the sites, the German authorities can then run the refining operations using crude from countries other than Russia.

Energy earthquake

Russia’s war in Ukraine has set off an energy earthquake in Europe and especially in Germany, with prices skyrocketing as Moscow dwindled supplies.

Germany has found itself severely exposed given its heavy reliance on Russian gas.

Moscow had also built up a grip over Germany’s oil refineries, pipelines and other gas infrastructure through energy giants Rosneft and Gazprom over the years.

Energy deals with Russia were long seen as part of a German policy of keeping the peace through cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

The cheap energy supplied by Russia was also key in keeping German exports competitive. As a result, the share of Russian gas in Germany had grown to 55 percent of total imports before the Ukraine war.

But that approach has come back to haunt Germany.

READ ALSO: When will effects of Russian gas shut-off be felt in Germany?

In early April, the German government took the unprecedented step of temporarily taking control of Gazprom’s German subsidiary, after an opaque transfer of ownership of the company sent alarm bells ringing in Berlin.

Germany has also been scrambling to find new sources of energy as deliveries from Russia have dwindled in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

The German government has also taken the stark step of firing up mothballed coal power plants, while putting two of its nuclear power plants on standby through April, rather than phasing them out completely as planned by year’s end.

READ ALSO: What to know about Germany’s new energy saving rules

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ENERGY

United Arab Emirates to supply Germany with gas, diesel

The United Arab Emirates agreed Sunday an "energy security" agreement with Germany to supply liquefied natural gas and diesel as Berlin searches for new power sources to replace Russian supplies.

United Arab Emirates to supply Germany with gas, diesel

Emirati industry minister Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber called it a “landmark new agreement” that “reinforces the rapidly growing energy partnership between the UAE and Germany” as he signed the deal, which was witnessed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the UAE’s state news agency WAM reported.

Scholz is on a visit to the UAE, where he met with Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Scholz said he “welcomed” the “energy security” agreement, WAM added.

As part of the deal, the UAE will provide “an LNG cargo for delivery in late 2022, to be used in the commissioning of Germany’s floating LNG import terminal at Brunsbuettel”, a North Sea port, the statement added.

UAE state oil company ADNOC completed its first ever direct diesel delivery to Germany earlier this month, and will “supply up to 250,000 tons of diesel per month in 2023”, it said.

The German leader is touring the Gulf in the hope of sealing new energy deals to replace Russian supplies and mitigate the energy crisis resulting from Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Saturday, Scholz met in Jeddah with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and later Sunday he was due to fly to gas-rich Qatar to hold talks with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Energy transition

Scholz’s stop in the UAE included a tour of an environmental project at a mangrove park with Emirati climate change minister Mariam Almheiri.

Almheiri said discussions on Sunday would, in addition to energy security, cover “climate action and economic growth”.

“The UAE believes all three pillars must go hand and hand. We cannot look at one or two of these pillars separately,” she said.

She also reiterated Abu Dhabi’s insistence on “a just transition” away from fossil fuels.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been leading critics of what they describe as “unrealistic” transition models they say have contributed to the current energy crunch.

Scholz told reporters in Abu Dhabi that his country had “made progress on a whole series of projects here in terms of the production and purchase of diesel and gas”, while adding it was determined to avoid energy dependence on Russia in the future.

“The fact that we are dependent on one supplier and also dependent on its decisions will certainly not happen to us again,” he said.

“With the investments that we are now making in Germany, and that will become reality bit by bit next year, we will indeed have an infrastructure for gas imports for Germany, such that we are no longer directly dependent on the specific supplier at the other end of the pipeline, as we are with a pipeline connection.”

His visit to Qatar comes one day after France’s TotalEnergies signed a new $1.5 billion deal to help expand Doha’s natural gas production. Scholz said such projects were “important”.

“We have to ensure that the production of liquefied gas in the world is advanced to such an extent that the high demand that exists can be met — without having to fall back on the production capacities in Russia that have been used so far,” he said.

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