The countdown to the planned freeze on Russian oil imports has begun. Much is at stake for Berlin and Brandenburg, as the region relies heavily on the Schwidt/Oder refinery, which gets oil from Russia. The search for alternatives is in full swing.
The Brandenburg state government is warning of dire consequences for the Schwidt refinery due to the planned Russian oil embargo. Economy Minister Jörg Steinbach (SPD) told the Rheinische Post (Wednesday) that the BCK refinery in Uckermark will be dealt a “critical blow” by an oil embargo. “It’s part of the critical infrastructure that needs to be protected.”
From there, northern Germany, the BER airport and areas in western Poland will be supplied with diesel, gasoline and kerosene. “Without PCK, there would be a significant deadlock there,” Steinbach says.
Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) admitted that the oil embargo on Berlin and Brandenburg could have serious consequences.
According to the European Commission’s plans, by the beginning of next year, Russian oil supplies to the European Union will be largely stopped. According to information from the German news agency, this is what the authority of Ursula von der Leyen and the European External Action Service proposes for a sixth set of sanctions against Russia.
In addition to supply, many jobs will be severely affected, Steinbach said. “It’s about 1,200 direct jobs and many hundreds of indirect jobs. PCK is Uckermark’s largest industrial company.” PCK processes only Russian crude oil. The majority owner is Russia’s state-owned Rosneft.
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The filter “must not go off the grid”
The Economy Minister was “happy” about the transition periods. This is necessary in order to prepare alternative logistics, “so that this ban can then be implemented as smoothly as possible and without the population suffering any hindrances,” Steinbach said on RBB Radio. The filter “must not stop working”. Discussions were ongoing with Shell on this matter.
With alternative sources, the refinery can operate at 55 to 60 percent of its capacity. Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greenz) is also negotiating with Poland about additional pipeline shipments from Gdansk. This means that 70 percent of the current output is possible. “This will be at least an order of magnitude higher as you won’t feel any dramatic effects.”
The East Brandenburg Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) fears a split in the republic. In the event of a ban, East Germany will again rely on West Germany to supply it with gasoline and diesel, Gundolf Schulke, IHK’s general manager, told dpa. “We’re tearing up new trenches and we’ve always wanted to see this conquered.” If PCK no longer provides raw materials for further processing, road construction, chemical industry and plastic processing will be affected. Schulk criticizes confiscation, which the federal government considers as a last resort. “If we did, other countries with German assets abroad would do the same if in doubt.”
The city of Schwedt, with a population of 35,000, also warns of the negative consequences of the ban. The non-party mayor, Ankatherine Hobby, invited Habek to visit her. Hubei said on rbb info radio that he should come to Schwidt and give people security and explain the strategy the federal government is following, what are the steps and what alternative oil is planned. The city was almost completely destroyed in World War II. Schwedt is distinguished by industry, but it is in the countryside – and on the Oder. It also has a lot of culture to offer, including Uckermark stages.