The interest in Robert Habeck is very great. The canteen at the refinery in Schwedt is full of staff in blue and orange work clothes, but more staff are waiting in front of the doors. “We have a space problem,” the clerk finally recognizes and invites all the staff to the balcony outside.
In the evening sun, BKA hastily pushes some tables together to form a makeshift grandstand. But then the Federal Economy Minister comes and climbs up at another table, much closer to the staff. “Maybe I’m a little late,” Habek says at first. On the other hand, this was the first time I had come to Schwedt.
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The PCK refinery has been in fear for weeks. The threat of an oil embargo on Russia, which the European Union is currently working on, is jeopardizing the site’s existence with its 1,200 Uckermark employees.
PCK is majority owned by the Russian state-owned corporation Rosneft. The crude oil processed at Schwedt – 12 million tons per year – comes directly from Russia to Brandenburg via the Druzhba pipeline. Most of the gasoline, kerosene, heating oil and diesel needed for the metropolitan area are produced.
If there is no more oil in Schwedt, the security of supply in Berlin and Brandenburg is also at risk. I have been searching for a solution out of the ownership structure and Russian deliveries for weeks.
Habeck didn’t bring a patent solution to Monday night’s extraordinary business meeting, he made clear: “I don’t want to spoil you here.” But the green politician, who along with the Prime Minister of Brandenburg, Dietmar Wojdick, and Economy Minister Jörg Steinbach (both SPD), gave hope to the workforce. The federal government aims to preserve the site for the long term. “We need Schwedt.”
Then he explains how he wants to keep Schwidt despite the ban. Accordingly, Schwedt will be partially supplied with oil from other countries and from national oil reserves via ships and the port in Rostock.
In addition, part of the oil will reach Schwedt through the Polish port of Danzig. The government will bear the high costs generated by the refinery. “Christian Lindner pays, so to speak.”
The third component of the concept is a new ownership structure. Habeck noted that a trust structure similar to that of Gazprom Germania could be conceivable here. In Gazprom, the Federal Network Agency has been running commercial operations for several weeks. “If all three work, then you will have job security for the next few years,” Habek said, but he also admitted that his plan was not without risk. “No one has ever done that before.”
Employees criticize the course of the federal government
Then the nearly 700 employees who had unhesitatingly followed Habeck’s speech commented critically on the course the federal government had taken. One of the employees demanded that Druzhba’s pipeline should not be subject to sanctions, and reminded Habek of the oath of office, to great applause.
The vice chancellor defended the ban. The aggressive war waged by the Russian president in Ukraine is a violation of taboos in the peace system of Europe, and therefore sanctions are necessary. “If Putin succeeds, I will break the oath to take office,” Habek said. Then he attacks the next Earth.
Woidke thanked Habeck for coming, but demanded guarantees of supply and site security. Woidke said every employee needs clarity and perspective. “You are the fuel that drives Brandenburg.” Habek also thanked him after more than an hour of heated discussion: “It could have been more ridiculous.”