Germany took control of a major Russian-owned oil refinery on Friday, risking retaliation from Moscow, as Berlin scrambles to bolster energy supplies and fulfill its European Union commitment to eliminate Russian oil imports by the end of the year.
Germany’s Economy Ministry said it was putting a unit of Russian oil company Rosneft under the umbrella of the industry regulator and taking over the Schwedt refinery, which supplies 90% of Berlin’s fuel.
“With the trusteeship, the threat to the security of energy supply is countered and an essential cornerstone is laid for the preservation and future of Schwedt,” the ministry said in a statement.
Governments across Europe are racing to support their energy suppliers and secure fuel supplies as sanctions on Russia, their main supplier, increase over the invasion of Ukraine.
Rosneft Deutschland, which was majority-owned by the Russian oil group and accounts for about 12% of German oil processing capacity, is being placed under the umbrella of the regulator Federal Network Agency.
The regulator said the original owner no longer had the authority to issue instructions.
Rosneft Deutschland and Rosneft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Shell, which owns a 37.5% stake in Schwedt, has wanted to sell it for some time. Shell said on Friday it was “unaffected” by the German decision to take control of the refinery.
The Schwedt refinery has been a dilemma for Berlin for several weeks, as it has received all of its crude oil from Russia. Germany, however, is determined to eliminate Russian oil imports by the end of the year.
By taking over Schwedt, however, he risks retaliatory measures from Moscow.
Germany’s Economy Ministry said Friday’s move includes a package to ensure the refinery can receive oil from alternative routes, without providing details.