Energy 21 June, 2023 7:35 am   
COMMENTS: Joanna Słowińska

Polish Briefing: Rosneft saga in Germany continues I Poland’s only reactor to be modernized I Russian oil still sold in southern Europe

PCK_Gelaende_Vogelperspektive Refinery in Schwedt / Picture by PCK Raffinerie GmbH

Germans remain silent about derusfying Schwedt, but signed a contract with Kazakhstan

The Schwedt refinery has signed a time-limited contract for oil supplies from Kazakhstan. It is not known whether this facility will be derusified and Poles are concerned that the raw material billed as Kazakh is physically from Russia.

The Schwedt refinery in Germany will be receiving 100,000 tons of oil per month from Kazakhstan until the end of 2024. Thus, thanks to this and deliveries through the naftoport in Gdańsk, Germany intends to become independent of abandoned purchases from Russian companies.

The supply agreement was concluded during the visit of President Frank Walter Steinmeier to Astana, which he announced together with his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev.

The Schwedt refinery supplies East Germany and west Poland with fuel. It operates at more than 50 percent of its capacity due to abandoning oil supplies from Russia’s Rosneft at the end of 2022. It brings fuel via an alternative route via the naftoport in Gdańsk and an existing one – the Friendship Oil Pipeline from Russia. KazTransOil pays Russia’s Transneft to ship its oil to Germany, even though Poles are concerned it is physically Russian oil.

It is unclear whether Germany will derusify the Schwedt refinery, in which Russia’s Rosneft still holds a majority stake (54 percent). The next term of the board of trustees imposed by the government in Berlin expires in September 2023. This may be followed by the acquisition of Russian shares or the extension of the management board giving control to the government through the Bundesnetzagentur.

Deutsche Presse Agentur / Wojciech Jakóbik

The government wants to modernize the only reactor in Poland

The plan to modernize the Maria research reactor near Otwock presented by the government may face an obstacle in the form of personnel problems, about which was first to report.

The Council of Ministers adopted a resolution on the modernization of the Maria research reactor in order to extend its operation beyond 2027. “After more than 40 years of operation, almost all technological systems of the reactor require modernization, including those necessary to ensure the strengthening of its safe operation,” explained the Climate Ministry.

However, it may turn out that in 2027 there will be no one to work at the reactor. The employees continue quitting their jobs from the National Center for Nuclear Research (NCBJ), as reported by in April 2023. This is due to low wages in the NCBJ, which have not been increased. Some employees with the education and experience necessary to work at a nuclear reactor work at Maria for pay close to the minimum wage. The letter by employees on this issue published by did not bring any improvements. “The management has not held any talks with the employees who signed the letter, and nothing is known about the creation of any strategic plan for Maria,” a source told us.

Salaries in NCBJ as a research institute depend on the Minister of Education. However, the Maria reactor is not only a facility used for research, it is also a source of radioactive material needed in medicine. The situation around Maria may also be a litmus test of the potential of the Polish nuclear sector against Polish plans to build the first large reactor in 2033 and wantinge to have 6-9 GW of this type of energy by 2043. The NCBJ has ambitions to train staff for Poland’s atomic projects, but it will be difficult with starvation-level salaries, especially when compared to offers on the market for several tens of thousands of zlotys per month. “A specialized production unit should be responsible for critical materials, not a research institute, and maybe this is the way for Maria,” suggested’s interviewee close to the NCBJ.

Ministry of Climate and Environment / Wojciech Jakóbik

Oil from Russia to Europe dries up, but Orlen still imports it to the Czech Republic

Imports of oil and petroleum products from Russia to Europe fell by 90 percent due, among other things, to the termination of deliveries from Russia to Poland. However, the oil is still purchased by Poland’s southern neighbors, including Czechia where Orlen is the importer.

“In March 2023, total imports of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia to the EU fell to 1.4 million tonnes (Mt), compared with an average monthly value of 15.2 million tonnes in the three years from 2019 to 2022. This is a decrease of 90 percent,” said Eurostat quoted by the Polish Press Agency.

It is worth recalling that Poland has not imported Russian oil since the end of February 2023, when the Russians stopped deliveries. This was the basis for terminating the PKN Orlen-Tatneft contract, the last in the portfolio of Poles after the agreement with Rosneft valid until the end of January 2023 had not been extended.

However, the Poles still import Russian oil to the Czech refinery in Litvinov. Prague intends to reduce dependence on supplies from Russia by developing supplies from the Italian market through the modernization of oil pipelines.

In addition, countries south of Poland still import this raw material through the southern strand of the Friendship Oil Pipeline. These are the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, all of which had declared that they needed several years to become independent of the Russians.

Polish Press Agency / Wojciech Jakóbik