Brandenburg Finance Minister Katrin Lange (SPD) has criticized Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and warned against a hasty oil embargo against Russia. “My impression is that the Federal Minister of Economics is taking the second step before the first,” she told the “Märkische Allgemeine” on Monday.

“Continued operation, supply and affordability must be secured in a binding manner.” Declarations of intent are not enough. “Only when that is clear can the oil tap be turned off. Not before.” Lange warned: “Sanctions must not harm us more than Russia. That would be nonsensical and will not end the wretched war. Therefore: No decisions out of the blue.”

The criticism of Habeck triggered a resentment in the red-black-green coalition. Green Party leader Julia Schmidt called on the SPD to work constructively on solutions instead of creating horror scenarios. “Criticism from the sidelines without making any constructive suggestions of your own does not make the situation for the people in East Germany and Schwedt any better,” she said.

She expects the SPD and Lange to actively support the course of the federal government and (…) “not try desperately to stick to a status quo with Russian oil and Rosneft”. A new working group from the federal and state governments on Schwedt started on Monday. Lange and Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach (SPD) are there for Brandenburg.

The EU is discussing an oil embargo against Russia because of the attack on Ukraine, but there are reservations in some countries. Germany wants to become independent of Russian oil supplies by the end of this year anyway.

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The PCK refinery in Schwedt, which is majority owned by the German subsidiary of the Russian state-owned company Rosneft, primarily processes Russian oil from the Druzhba pipeline, which ends there. According to the PCK, 90 percent of the supply of petrol, kerosene, diesel and heating oil in Berlin and Brandenburg is ensured by the refinery.

In her own words, the SPD finance minister expects enormous upheavals in the event of an oil embargo. “I fear a disproportionate burden on the east German locations in Schwedt and Leuna compared to west German locations,” she told the “Märkische Allgemeine”. “There is a risk that an abrupt oil boycott would bring large parts of the economy in East Germany to a standstill, with serious consequences for companies and employees.”

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Habeck is looking for new delivery routes via Rostock and Danzig. According to estimates, this would only achieve 60 to 70 percent of the refinery’s previous output. Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) had demanded security of supply and billions in aid from the federal government in order to secure the refinery in Schwedt in the long term in the event of an oil embargo.

The new working group began consultations on the future of the refinery. Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Michael Kellner explained that things were more complex for the Schwedt location. “It pays for itself that, despite the Crimean War, a Russian energy company has had such a strong influence on the supply situation in recent years. We must therefore fight together and with all our might for a future for the site without Russian oil.”

According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, the AG also advised on the continued existence of the refinery and the security of supply with a view to the conversion. “I know that this means an effort for the Schwedt location and its employees,” said Kellner. “But at the same time it is also an opportunity to position yourself for the future. Because it is clear that the farewell to fossil raw materials is getting closer anyway.”