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Germany nationalizes former Gazprom subsidiary

November 14, 2022

The decision is meant to safeguard Germany's energy security. Poland has also announced it will take over Russia's Gazprom assets in the country.

The logo of the Russian energy giant Gazprom's German Subsidy, Gazprom Germania, taken on 25.02.2022.
The new company, Gazprom Germania previously, is called Securing Energy for Europe GmbH (SEFE)Image: Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez/dpa ZB/picture alliance

Germany has announced the nationalization of a former subsidiary of Russia's energy giant Gazprom, as the country takes measures to secure its energy needs as it breaks away from Russian reliance.

The new company, previously Gazprom Germania, is called Securing Energy for Europe GmbH (SEFE). It indirectly controls the country's largest gas storage facility in northwestern Rehden.

Europe adjusts to high energy costs

A similar move was also announced in Poland, with the development minister announcing that Warsaw will take over Gazprom's Polish assets.

Monday's decision comes after the EU Commission agreed over the weekend to provide the Russian subsidiary in Germany with €225.6 million ($233 million) in aid, paving the way for the nationalization.

Why did Germany nationalize the company?

Germany's government argues that the move is necessary to protect its energy security amid Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine.

Berlin had placed the company under its effective control back in April, leaving ownership unclear. That, said Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action on Monday, made business partners and banks reluctant to resume business relations or enter new ones.

 "This [situation] jeopardized the continuation of SEFE's business operations and thus the gas supply," the ministry added, rationalizing its decision to nationalize.

Now a German state asset, Russian Gazprom has effectively lost its shares in the company, the ministry said.

A similar Polish move

Poland on Monday similarly announced that it would take over Russia's 48% stake in Europolgaz, which owns the Polish section of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline. The 4,107-kilometer (2,552-mile) pipeline connects Russia's natural gas fields in the Yamal Peninsula and Western Siberia with Poland and Germany.

In an emailed statement cited by the French news agency AFP, Polish Development Minister Waldemar Buda said the move was made to "ensure the security of [Poland's] critical infrastructure."

Pipes are seen at the gas transmission point in Rembelszczyzna near Warsaw on April 27, 2022
Russia cut off its gas supply to Poland after Warsaw refused to pay in roublesImage: Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images

In April, Warsaw sanctioned 50 Russian oligarchs and companies, including Gazprom, in retaliation for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia, meanwhile, cut off gas supply to Poland after the former refused to pay in rubles.

"We are doing all we can to counteract Russia's aggression and eliminate Russian capital and influence, expropriation is not possible under [the] Polish constitution, hence we decided to enact compulsory management," the Reuters news agency quoted Buda as saying.

rmt/fb (AFP, dpa)