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WASHINGTON – West Europe already is dependent on Russia for 40 percent of its oil and natural gas, and now the region is about to make itself even more dependent, thereby giving Moscow greater influence over political decisions, especially as they relate to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s eastward policies, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Russian oil companies are buying European oil refineries, prompted by Europe’s need for major infusions of cash to offset the major economic downturn and to bring many insolvent refineries back into production.

The Russian oil companies leading this effort to buy up European refineries are Gunvor, Rosneft and Lukoil – all friends of president-elect Vladimir Putin.

One such refinery slated for a Russian buy-in is in Antwerp, Belgium, and is well-located in the Antwerp-Amsterdam-Rotterdam industrial area. It is part of Petroplus Holding which is Europe’s largest oil refining company.

It had filed for insolvency in 2011. By acquiring the Antwerp refinery, the Russians will be expanding oil refining in Europe. Oil most likely will come from Russia for refining at its newly acquired refinery.

Another refinery of Petroplus Holding is the Ingolstadt refinery in Germany on which Rosneft is bidding. The key both for Belgium and Germany is that the investor must also be able to provide the oil for refining.

Both countries have rejected other potential investors because they don’t have oil supplies. The Ingolstadt refinery obtains its feedstock mainly from the port of Trieste via the Trans-Alpine pipeline which then goes into Bavaria and into the Czech Republic.

Rosneft already has other refinery investments in the Ingolstadt region. Lukoil had first bought into the Italian ERG group which then gave the Russian company rights to acquire an 80 percent stake in the ISAB refining complex in Sicily, with an option to purchase the remaining 20 percent.

ISAB is a major supplier to the Italian market, giving it the means of acquiring oil not only from Russia but North Africa and the Middle East as well. Lukoil also owns almost 50 percent of the Vlissingen refinery in the Netherlands, while Rosneft has a 50 percent state in Germany’s largest oil-refining conglomerate, Ruhr Oel.

With Russian investment in these European refineries, Moscow stands to gain greatly as Europe’s economy recovers and acquire even more hard currency from Europe in the future.

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