The path of the oil – in the canteen of the former Petrochemical Combine (PCK) in Schwedt an der Oder, it can be found in a meter-long mosaic, right at the front of the canteen. Drilling towers on the Volga can be seen there, and a long pipeline that finally ends in Schwedt: the Druzhba pipeline. Rostock and Danzig do not play a role on the map, nor do the oil fields in Kazakhstan. It’s the places that Schwedt has recently been supplying – and not bad at all.
This is also confirmed by the latest success report. According to information from Süddeutsche Zeitung will moor an additional ship in Gdańsk in May with another 350,000 tons of crude oil for Schwedt. For a refinery that can process a million tons per month at its peak, this is no small matter. This was made possible by the extension of the trust administration, says Michael Kellner (Greens), who, as Parliamentary State Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, has been responsible for the future of the refinery since last year. “The trust works and the cooperation with Poland works.” Rarely has a Green been so happy about an oil delivery.
The future of the PCK refinery has long been uncertain. Because it was not only directly connected to Russia via the Druzhba pipeline, but also via the majority owner – that was the Russian oil company Rosneft. In mid-September, however, the federal government took over the trusteeship of the company. That should preempt the moment when the Russian side stops oil exports – and at the same time prepare for the time when Germany does without Russian oil. Chancellor Olaf Scholz had already promised such an embargo for January 2023 last spring.
The refinery is particularly important for the capital, also for very practical reasons. It supplies the airport with kerosene and the filling stations in Berlin and Brandenburg with petrol and diesel. A bottleneck in Schwedt would therefore be immediately noticeable around the Chancellery. That explains why every additional oil tanker is now celebrated.
Large tankers can also be unloaded in Gdansk
Just last week, Tuesday, the Federal Administrative Court dismissed a Rosneft lawsuit against the trust administration. The federal government extended it for another six months on the same day – just in time, because it would have expired one day later. There is now legal certainty again – also for the Shell group, which has a 37.5 percent stake in the refinery. He also organized the extra cargo to be unloaded in Gdańsk in May.
From Gdansk, as well as from Rostock, a pipeline leads to Schwedt. Unlike in Rostock, however, large tankers can also be unloaded in Gdansk. On the other hand, the transmission to the Oder is more complicated, the Polish pipeline system is quite busy. However, the times when the government in Warsaw did not want to supply oil to Russian-owned refineries as a matter of principle are over. Firstly, because the federal government has effectively removed Rosneft from power, and secondly, because the refinery also supplies parts of western Poland with fuel and heating. “I am grateful to the Polish side for their continuous support over the past few months,” said State Secretary Kellner. The Italian Eni group, also a shareholder, recently bought more oil in Kazakhstan. However, these deliveries have a catch: some of them also run through Russian pipes.
However, the refinery cannot match the capacity utilization of the past, but it is currently working at 60 percent. In any case, for the time being: in April and May it will first undergo a partial revision, as is customary every few years. Temporarily only one half of the system is working while the other is at a standstill. The oil from Rostock is enough for that.