German oil lobby says imports from Russia being reduced

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A view shows a fuel station of Shell in Moscow

FRANKFURT – German refineries have started reducing imports of Russian crude and oil products, a domestic industry group said on Monday, adding that the adjustment would not threaten domestic supply.

The European Union has so far stopped short of a ban on Russian oil in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24, but some operators have voluntarily ceased imports.

“The mineral oil industry has started reducing imports of Russian crude oil and mineral oil products, especially diesel,” the Berlin-based German Fuels & Energy Association (en2x) said in response to an enquiry.

It gave no further details.

“The most important thing is that domestic supply can be upheld for the time being, despite these adjustments,” it added.

Shell, one of the association’s prominent members with refineries in Cologne-Godorf and Wesseling, last week stopped buying oil from Russia and said it would cut all links to the country.

The association said replacing oil imports from Russia, which make up a third of Germany’s total, would be possible, but would take time and the industry would have to rely on more seaborne oil rather than on pipelines.

The group, formerly called the mineral oil association, last December renamed itself to reflect its target of moving away from fossil fuels and reducing Germany’s energy import dependency.

Russian oil company Rosneft’s refinery in Schwedt, eastern Germany, did not immediately reply to an inquiry regarding oil flows, which it receives via the Druzhba pipeline through Poland.

In 2021, Germany’s total oil imports fell 1.6% year-on-year to 81.4 million tonnes, trade statistics office BAFA reported. Oil product imports totalled 36.8 million tonnes, up 5.6%.

Official numbers up to March 2022 will be available in May at the earliest.

The European Commission and Germany’s government aim to quickly become independent of Russian oil and coal.

But weaning Germany off its gas dependency will be harder, due to its lack of import capacity for liquefied natural gas (LNG).

($1 = 0.9137 euros)

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Barbara Lewis)