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Germany Moves To Expropriate Energy Firms In Case Of Emergency

The lower house of the German Parliament approved a bill on Thursday that could allow the government to place energy firms under trusteeship if the security of supply in Germany is threatened.

Europe’s largest economy, Germany, is a major buyer of Russian natural gas and oil and has been preparing for two months for the possibility that fossil fuel supplies from Russia could be disrupted either because of sanctions or retaliatory moves from Moscow to cut—or cut off—the supply of oil and/or natural gas.

Now the German lawmakers passed a bill—which still needs to pass in the upper house of Parliament—that would allow the government to expropriate critical energy infrastructure and assets in case an emergency occurs.

Germany has recently dropped its opposition to an EU ban on Russian oil imports, but the European Commission’s proposal for an official ban from last week is still being discussed in detail amid opposition from Hungary and other central European members heavily dependent on Russian oil supply.

Germany, meanwhile, is reportedly preparing to take control of the PCK refinery in Schwedt, operated by Russian state-owned Rosneft. The new plan would see PCK inputs shipped through the German Baltic Sea port of Rostock and the Polish port of Gdansk through an alternative pipeline link.

The new bill, if passed, could be first applied to the Schwedt refinery.

At the same time, Russian gas supply to a Gazprom subsidiary that Germany placed under trusteeship in April has stopped, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told the Parliament on Thursday.

Russia on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Gazprom’s subsidiaries in Europe, banning them from supplying Russian gas.

“Gazprom and its subsidiaries are affected,” Minister Habeck said as quoted by Reuters, adding that “This means some of the subsidiaries are getting no more gas from Russia. But the market is offering alternatives.” 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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