Energy 22 February, 2023 9:30 am   
COMMENTS: Sepp Müller

Müller: Poland fails to keep promises and does not supply oil to German refineries (INTERVIEW)


“The Leuna refinery is not working at 100 percent capacity. We expect that it will work at an even much lower level, because Gdańsk does not keep its promises,” says Sepp Müller, a politician of the Christian Democratic Union, in an interview with Can you comment on the oil supplies for the Schwedt refinery through Gdańsk?

Sepp Müller: Yesterday, the Climate Minister Robert Habeck participated in a government meeting where he carefully answered questions from colleagues from the German Bundestag. We have to say that the promises that PCK Schwedt refinery would operate at 70 percent capacity in January have not been fulfilled. We have a capacity utilization of just under 60 percent. It seems that the promises that have been made, those about the supply of oil going to PCK Schwedt via Gdańsk, may not be kept.

Reportedly at the beginning of February, a tanker for PCK was sent back from the Naftoport in Gdańsk, because it was carrying oil ordered by Rosneft. Are you aware about any of this?

We are already making inquiries about this. We can’t predict when we’ll get answers. We are waiting for the federal government to respond.

The bottom line is that Germany has not expropriated Rosneft yet. The shares that the Russian company owns in the refinery were not expropriated, but put under the control of Treuhand. What do you think of expropriating Rosneft?

We have a very good constitution in Germany. It protects property, even if sometimes we don’t like it at all. Expropriation would be a very difficult intervention. I also understand the government, which is very reticent and cautious on this issue. Rosneft is currently filing a lawsuit against the trusteeship of its PCK Schwedt shares. The Federal Network Agency is currently responsible for these shares and took over the administration of the shareholders’ shares. Such a deep intrusion into property is a far-reaching step. In Germany, property is very well protected by the law, which has constitutional status.

But that would be nothing new. We have the example of SEFE and the expropriation of Gazprom, which paved the way for such a step. It was exactly the same case, so there is a legal basis and there is even a precedent…

In Germany, we have introduced a law that says expropriation will be possible in the event of a shortage of supplies. It would also be possible, for example, in the case of gas supplies, storage facilities, as well as refineries. Provided the circumstances are very difficult. I cannot explain it now, during an interview or a discussion before the court issues a decision. We need to wait for the ruling and I stick to my view: expropriating one shareholder, not all of them, is a huge encroachment on civil liberties, on property rights. The Federal Constitutional Court needs to make this decision. I can only appeal to our Polish friends: we not only have to supply western Poland, but we also have a European responsibility to solve these legal problems. In the meantime, we must rely on assurances that we will receive oil from Gdańsk. spoke with the representative of the Left Party Christian Gorke. The party’s solution is to nationalize not just Rosneft’s shares, but all other shares as well. It is calling for a general nationalization of the PCK refinery. Would that be a solution? Nationalization of all shareholders?

Christian Görke belongs to a party which proved for 40 years that state-run economy does not work. Therefore, it makes sense to allow private sector companies to operate. At the same time, we acknowledge that a Russian shareholder is a challenge. That is why it is very difficult when we are dealing with three different shareholders. However, nationalisation does not comply with our constitution. My colleague from the Left should know that.

Let’s move on to the potential supply of oil from Kazakhstan. Secretary of State Michael Kellner said a delivery from Kazakhstan was scheduled for February.

Can the State Secretary be trusted on this? The debate we held in December at Bundestag showed he cannot. He publicly promised that the refinery would receive enough oil supplies to enable a production capacity at 70 percent. On January 31, it was not even 60 percent.

Securing the supply of petroleum products for Berlin, Brandenburg and western Poland is in doubt. So much for the Secretary’s statement. You mentioned Kazakhstan. We only receive information from reports as well. Apparently 100 thousand tons of oil a month has been secured. Unfortunately, the federal government has not made any specific statements. They rely on shareholders, because they’re the ones buying, not the federal government. This is how it works on a market organized by the private sector.

Finally, I would like to ask a question about the refinery, which is much less visible, practically absent from the press. It’s about the Leuna refinery. The current status is probably that it is still operating normally. At least there was no information that it had any problems. Could Leuna replace PCK when it comes to deliveries to Berlin and Brandenburg?

To my knowledge, the Leuna refinery is not operating at 100 percent. The expectation is that it will work at a much smaller capacity, because Gdańsk is not keeping its promises. Maybe we should count how many ships are moored in the Port of Gdańsk? Putting that aside, the PCK refinery needs to supply Berlin and Brandenburg as well as western Poland. The problem is that the Leuna refinery does not have a pipeline to Brandenburg. In addition, it doesn’t have access to the oil storage facility in Seefeld to supply the region. Simply put, we have a technical problem and it cannot be solved. We would also be short of drivers, tankers and trains to bring refined oil to the reservoirs in Seefeld. We simply have technical and infrastructural problems that are not solvable. If the press reports are to be believed, Leuna is not running at full speed. Rumor has it that the promises made in Gdansk are not being kept, and ships are mooring outside the port.

Interview by Aleksandra Fedorska

* Sepp Müller is a Christian Democratic Union politician with an education background in banking. He has been deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag since December 2021. Müller has been a member of the German Bundestag since 2017.