Jakóbik: Germany is making another Nord Stream 2-like mistake at the Schwedt refinery (COLUMN)

PCK_Gelaende_Vogelperspektive Schwedt Refinery. Picture by PCK Raffinerie GmbH.

The cautious approach taken by the German government towards the Schwedt refinery mirrors past errors seen with Nord Stream 2 and raises concerns about reverting to business as usual in relations between Russia and Eastern Germany- writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor in chief at

Handelsblatt’s recent leaks, now confirmed, reveal Germany’s decision to extend trusteeship over the Schwedt refinery instead of pursuing expropriation of 54 percent of shares held by Russia’s Rosneft, as advocated by Poland for security reasons.

Germany cites formalities as justification, fearing potential repercussions from Russians, who have hinted through their media that derusification could disrupt the supply of oil labeled as Kazakh, delivered to Germany via the Russian oil pipeline Friendship. Berlin appears to have yielded to this pressure, despite Poland’s offer to ensure the supply of genuine Kazakh oil through the Naftoport in Gdańsk should Friendship face issues.

Issues may occur anyway as evidenced by the 2019 contaminated oil crisis, when a technical pretext halted the Friendship for 49 days when the over-sulphurized oil became a threat to infrastructure, but those affected in the EU, including German companies, have not received any compensation yet. This precedent proves that Germany can at any time be deprived of oil supplies through the Friendship Pipeline. To make matters even worse this fuel has the chemical properties identical to the Russian REBCO blend, which means it may physically not be the Kazakh KEBCO, which offers Russians an upper hand over Germany in yet another way.

If Germans cooperated with Poland’s Orlen in the Schwedt refinery that could potentially change the oil and fuel sector on both banks of the Oder, which is especially important for supplying NATO’s eastern flank. The potential entry of Kazakhs into Schwedt cements a strange German-Kazakh-Russian deal that continues to give the Kremlin revenues from the transit of oil to Germany. The deterioration of NATO-Russia relations visible on the horizon in the event of Ukraine’s defeat will then be a threat to this scheme and the energy security of the entire region.
Germany opted for a conservative approach hidden behind formalism, as in the case of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, when the Ministry of Economy from the times of SPD’s Sigmar Gabriel believed that this project did not pose a threat to the security of supply in the region, which Poland protested against. Because of this the project was given the green light and completed. The energy crisis fuelled by Russians clearly revealed by the recession in Germany, hooked on “cheap gas from Russia”, that this was a mistake, to say the least. He also allowed speculation about East Germany’s ties with the Russians. The same will happen with Schwedt and hopefully the Germans will not be wise after the damage has been done, despite Poland’s warnings.