Shell to sell stake in German Schwedt refinery to UK's Prax Group

Article by Kerry Hebden

SHELL has agreed to sell its 37.5% stake in the PCK Schwedt oil refinery, one of the largest crude oil processing locations in Germany, to Prax Group, an independent energy firm headquartered in London.  

PCK Schwedt is primarily owned by Rosneft, a Russian energy company, and is responsible for supplying around 90% of Berlin’s fuel. Located close to the Polish border, PCK is also a key supplier of petrol to the entire Berlin-Brandenburg region, including the capital’s airport. 

Germany took over the refinery in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stripping Rosneft of control, but leaving it as the legal owner of the stake. Rosneft promptly sued the German government, arguing that it had always upheld its oil delivery commitments. 

The German government has since been trying to find ways to supply PCK with oil which has been running at only 60% capacity due to embargoes on Russian oil by the European Union. Poland said it would help provide oil for the refinery, but only if Rosneft was completely removed as a shareholder. 

Shell said it has agreed to sell its stake in PCK as part of divestment plans to concentrate on the development of high-quality, integrated sites such as the Energy & Chemicals Park Rheinland instead. 

Prax Group, meanwhile, said the transaction aligns strategically with other recently completed acquisitions to give the firm a significant presence in the German market, as well as making it a major player in the European refining sector. 

In December, Prax − owned by its founders, CEO Sanjeev Kumar Soosaipillai, Arani Kumar Soosaipillai, and their family trusts − bought Hamburg-based petrol retail business, OIL! Tankstellen with a network of more than 340 gas stations located across Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland.  

The firm also acquired oil producer Hurricane Energy for US$301m in March 2023, and secured a minority stake in a refinery joint venture in South Africa. 

Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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