In the dispute over the oil embargo against Russia, the Federal Ministry of Economics counters criticism from Brandenburg. “I expect that the Potsdam government will also support the federal government’s Ukraine course,” said Parliamentary State Secretary Michael Kellner (Greens) of the “B.Z.”.
He accused the SPD-led state government of having been close to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past. After the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, Brandenburg opposed sanctions. In addition, the state has approved the sale of the PCK refinery in Schwedt, Brandenburg, to the Russian state-owned company Rosneft.
The PCK refinery processes Russian pipeline oil. It supplies large parts of eastern Germany with petroleum products. The European Union wants to stop the import of Russian tanker oil because of the Ukraine war.
Although imports via pipeline are still permitted, the federal government also wants to do without them. Alternative supply routes are therefore necessary for Schwedt. Brandenburg demands guarantees that the location and the jobs there as well as the supply of East Germany will remain secure.
Kellner stressed that it was “national security issues that can only be discussed in private.” However, the State Secretary reiterated commitments made by his Minister Robert Habeck (Greens). “There is no need to panic,” said Kellner. “The supply is secured and we are doing everything we can to ensure that it stays that way.”
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In the future, almost 60 percent of the oil requirements for the Schwedt plant could come from Rostock via pipeline with tanker oil. In addition, Poland would be willing to help with additional quantities from Gdansk “if Putin’s state-owned company Rosneft is no longer a PCK co-owner”. There is also the national oil reserve.
“We have an overcapacity of petrol and diesel in Germany,” explained Kellner. “That’s why we can also cover the whole of East Germany. But we should make full use of Schwedt as much as possible.”
In a letter to the Federal Ministry of Economics last week, Brandenburg’s state government called for 100 percent operation of the Schwedt refinery. An answer to the letter is still pending, said Brandenburg’s Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach (SPD) on Monday on RBB Inforadio. He warned that the people in the region should not be expected to face a long stalemate.
Brandenburg is pushing for written commitments to help in the event of an oil embargo. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had assured at the weekend that such an import stop should not lead to regional price differences at the petrol pumps, and emphasized: “We all bear the costs of the war together.”
Steinbach said on Monday: “It’s still a bit too little for me, with all goodwill.” He believes Scholz, the minister emphasized. But he would still like to see the written EU approval for possible help.
Verbal assurances are not enough for the Left either. The party, which is not part of the Brandenburg state government made up of SPD, CDU and Greens, calls for a guarantee plan for all of East Germany to ensure security of supply, locations, jobs and prices. “The East is currently being left out in the rain,” criticized Sören Pellmann, the East Commissioner for the left-wing parliamentary group in the Bundestag, on Monday in Berlin.
Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) underestimated the consequences of the partial import freeze agreed in the EU for the East. “The embargo could become a huge driver of inflation and a brake on development for the East German economy,” warned Pellmann. “It has social explosives that some in the federal government can not even imagine.” It is not communicable if the refinery in Schwedt, Brandenburg, “the oil tap is turned off”.
Scholz promised East Germany support in dealing with the consequences of the Russia sanctions at the East German Economic Forum in Bad Saarow on Sunday evening. “We said from the start: We’re not doing anything that harms us more than Putin,” said the Chancellor. “We always keep an eye on East Germany, which due to its history and geography naturally has different requirements in terms of security of supply and affordability of energy.”
Scholz reiterated the goal of becoming independent of Russian energy imports – “as quickly as possible, but also as safely as necessary”.
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The extensive oil embargo against Russia, which was agreed at the EU summit at the end of May, “also has consequences for us in Germany,” admitted Scholz. “I’m thinking of Leuna and here in Brandenburg of the refinery in Schwedt, which has so far been attached to the Druzhba pipeline.” Leuna in Saxony-Anhalt is also an important refinery site where Russian oil is processed.
An alternative delivery via the port of Gdansk is already emerging for Leuna, said Scholz. “For Schwedt, the matter is more complicated. But there, too, a working group of the Federal Ministry of Economics is working together with other ministries and the state on a very specific solution,” assured Scholz. “And I’m confident that we’ll make quick progress here too.”