Germany 'getting ready for the worst case' over Russian gas
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Germany’s Climate and Economy Minister Robert Habeck suggested that Berlin could handle an embargo on Russian oil imports. Speaking at a press conference in Warsaw, Mr Habeck said that Germany had managed to slash its reliance on Russian oil by two-thirds in recent weeks, reducing the share of imports from 35 percent before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to 12 percent now.
The remaining Russian imports supply the Schwedt refinery in eastern Germany, he added, as other sites had already switched to alternative suppliers.
Schwedt, which is run by Russia’s state-owned Rosneft, supplies the vast majority of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region with fuel.
A lack of oil infrastructure linking the former West and East Germany means the country’s eastern states would have been hit especially hard by an import stop but a solution is close at hand, Habeck said.
He added that dealing with Schwedt “is the last task that still stands in the way of completely securing the energy supply.
“I can already say that an [oil] embargo has become manageable for Germany.”
Mr Habeck was in Warsaw to work out if oil refineries in eastern Germany could in part be supplied with shipments via the Polish port of Gdańsk, and he said the two countries were working together on the issue.
The trouble with Schwedt, he said, was its majority owner.
He said: “Rosneft’s business model is to buy Russian oil, and that is exactly the bone of contention: If we don’t want Russian oil anymore we need an alternative for Schwedt.
“To develop this is the task of the next few days and yes, I hope only days.”
Proceeds from the sale of Russian oil and gas amount to around $1billion (£770million) a day, undermining international efforts to put economic pressure on President Vladimir Putin to end the war.
The US has already banned Russian oil imports and the UK plans to phase them out by the end of the year.
But EU countries are more heavily dependent on Russian energy, with Germany currently buying around 25 percent of its oil and 40 percent of its gas from Russia.
Earlier this week, German economic institutes warned that immediately halting Russian imports would spark a sharp recession in Europe’s biggest economy by 2023.
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Germany has already called off the opening of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in response to the war, a project pursued by previous governments of different political stripes.
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