The Rosneft PCK majority-owned oil refinery in Schwedt, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)


Berlin ‘looks to take over Russian oil assets in Germany’


The German Government is laying the groundwork for a possible nationalisation of Russia-backed oil company Rosneft Germany.

Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action informed Rosneft that it was thinking about expropriating shares in the company’s German assets, the Russian oil giant’s law firm in Germany said on February 8.

A Rosneft lawyer in Germany told Reuters the Russian company “will take all measures to protect the rights of its shareholders”.

Berlin is preparing for the potential nationalisation of Rosneft’s ROSN.MM German activities, including its stake in the PCK Schwedt refinery near Berlin, two Government sources said late on February 7.

Germany placed Rosneft’s German assets, including its 54.17 per cent stake in the Schwedt refinery, under a trusteeship in September 2022 in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

It has since extended the trusteeship twice, most recently in September 2023 and needs to make a fresh decision in March, when the current trusteeship expires.

Berlin has not yet decided whether or not to follow through with the nationalisation move, the Handelsblatt business daily reported.

The economy ministry is making the preparations and the Rosneft Group was formally involved in a hearing on the matter on February 5, the report said, citing Government sources.

The ministry told Rosneft on February 6 that if Russia regained control over the companies, which include the Schwedt refinery, the refineries’ operation would be jeopardised because contractual partners would “refuse to co-operate”, law firm Malmendier Legal said on LinkedIn.

Due to Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, it is not apparent that the situation would change, the law firm cited the ministry as saying.

Rosneft will take all measures to protect the rights of its shareholders, added the law firm, adding that such expropriation would be an “unprecedented measure” in Germany and would “forever damage investment security” in the country.

The German Government has been hoping for months that Rosneft would sell its share in Schwedt to secure the future of the refinery, the fourth-largest in Germany.

The ministry, which is overseeing the trusteeship via the German network regulator, did not comment directly on the process.

“We are on the right track in Schwedt and will continue to take all the necessary measures to preserve jobs and secure supplies in Eastern Germany,” said Michael Kellner, an economics ministry official.