the bargains of Russian companies in Germany

Subsidiaries of giants Gazprom and Rosneft are key players in Germany’s energy infrastructure (John MACDOUGALL/AFP/Archives)

Torn by its dependence on Russian gas, Germany has discovered another Achilles’ heel: the weight of Russian capital in its oil refineries, pipelines and other gas resources.

Subsidiaries of giants Gazprom and Rosneft are major players in the country’s energy infrastructure.

The leading German politicians from politics and business are “faced with the rubble” of cooperation with Russia, which for a long time was seen as a guarantor of a détente with Vladimir Putin’s regime, the magazine “Spiegel” observes.

“You have to face the facts, the weekly continues: you were not appealing to agents of change in Russia, but perhaps to Trojan horses from the Kremlin.”

– Tank

In early April, the federal government made an unprecedented decision: temporarily taking control of the German Gazprom subsidiary, a radical measure justified by an opaque transfer of ownership of the company.

The economy minister referred to issues of “public order and national security”.

Imports of Russian natural gas to the EU
Imports of Russian natural gas into the EU (Sylvie HUSSON / AFP/Archives)

And with good reason: the Rehden dam (northwest) in Lower Saxony alone, which belongs to Gazprom, accounts for around 20% of Germany’s total gas storage capacity.

With a capacity of 4 billion cubic meters of gas, it is considered the largest in Europe. The company, which belonged to the German concern BASF until 2015, was sold to the Astora company, a subsidiary of Gazprom

The Russian company is suspected of deliberately keeping its inventories low in the summer before invading Ukraine. Rehden’s reservoir is only 0.5% full.

Astora has additional deposits in Jemgum, on the border with the Netherlands, and in Haidach, Austria.

Gazprom Germania was also involved in a large storage facility in a salt cavern not far from Hamburg.

– Distribution networks

Gascade, one of the largest gas distribution network operators in Germany, also owns 50.03% of Gazprom-Germania.

A gas receiving station operated by the operator Gascade, in September 2021 in Lubmin, north-eastern Germany
A gas receiving station operated by Gascade, in September 2021 in Lubmin, north-eastern Germany (John MACDOUGALL / AFP/Archives)

The company describes its network of 3,200 kilometers of gas pipelines as the “hub of European natural gas transport”. His pipes called Eugal, Midal, Stegal or Weda transport the raw material to the German metropolises.

On its website, the company claims to act independently: “Gascade’s transport activities are not subject to the influence of the Gazprom Group or that of any other shareholder.”

Other important connections such as the North European NEL gas pipeline and the Opal gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea belong to Wiga Transporte, in which Gazprom Germania has a 49.98% stake.

The rest of Gascade and Wiga Transport is owned by German group Wintershall Dea – third-party owned by Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman and now under Western sanctions.

With a market share of around 20%, Wingas, a 100% subsidiary of Gazprom-Germania, plays a leading role in gas distribution, particularly to German public utilities, industrial companies and power plants.

The German state’s supervision of Gazprom’s subsidiaries is scheduled to last until September 30. During this time, the government must choose between nationalization and sale to a new owner.

– refineries

According to its own statements, the Rosneft Germany subsidiary of the Russian oil giant supplies a quarter of all German crude oil imports.

The PCK refinery in Schwedt, east of Berlin, April 2, 2022
The PCK refinery in Schwedt, east of Berlin, on April 2, 2022 ( John MACDOUGALL / AFP/Archives )

The company is the majority owner of the PCK refinery in Schwedt, east of Berlin. Around 11.6 million tons of crude oil can be processed annually at this location, which corresponds to around 11% of Germany’s total oil consumption.

Rosneft plans to buy Anglo-Dutch Shell’s 37.5 percent stake in the refinery, increasing its stake to 92 percent.

The Federal Cartel Office had approved this transaction a few days before the outbreak of war. The Ministry of Economic Affairs is currently examining whether the purchase can still be stopped.

Rosneft Germany also owns 24% and almost 29% stakes in the major refineries Miro and Bayernoil in southern Germany.

Like Gazprom in gas, Rosneft is one of the largest oil distributors and logisticians. According to the Handelsblatt, the group companies supply 4,000 major customers in Germany.

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