As previously discussed in Russian Energy Bears, state owned Gazprom is on the prowl for new acquisition targets near to home, the latest potential suitor is Serbian state energy company NIS (Naftna Industrija Srbije). As reported in early December by news agency Novosti, Gazprom is looking to acquire 51% of the Russian sattelites energy reserves & control of its refining & retail operations, for $400M. In return, Gazprom offers to invest up to $500M in developing & building new gas storage infrastructure & also construction of a distributions spur for the South Stream Pipeline.
“An agreement was reached today (5th Dec 08) to sign three deals by the end of the year,” CEO Alexei Miller said, referring to Gazprom Neft’s acquisition of state-owned Naftna Industrija Srbije, Gazprom’s $500 million investment in a gas storage facility in Serbia, and the construction of the Serbian segment of the South Stream pipeline.
The South Stream Pipeline is set to provide a distribution network across SE Europe, allowing Gazprom to distribute up to 30Bln cubic meteres of gas via Greece, Bulgaria & Serbia. The pipeline has attracted some controversy, mainly from the US, as it is seen as being a further attempt by Gazprom to put a stranglehold on EU energy supplies. Russia contends that this is purely diversification, an understandable premise, as soured relations with Ukraine on transit deals & domestic prices caused Gazprom to turn off the Ukrainian supply in 2006. More on the myriad of pipeline deals can be sourced here at The Bridge.
Meanwhile, although the deal is done from a Gazprom point of view, it is causing ructions within the Serbian government itself. Serbia’s Economy Minister Mladjan Dinkic said Serbia should sell its state energy company, NIS, only if Russia signs firm guarantees that the South Stream natural gas pipeline will indeed be built. But Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said Serbia should sell the company even without Moscow’s guarantees, or risk losing the support of its “strategic” political ally.
Dinkic and other pro-Western ministers in the government fear that Russia’s takeover of the country’s energy sector would dramatically increase Moscow’s political influence in the Balkan country.
Dinkic said that Russia insists on maintaining a monopoly over the sale of oil products in Serbia until 2014, is reneging on its promise to invest €500 million in modernising NIS, and has offered no guarantees that the European Union’s pollution protection standards would be implemented.
so capitalism Russian style.
UPDATE 1 10/02/09 : From OilVoice : Gazprom completes acquisition of 51% in NIS
JSC Gazprom Neft completed the acquisition of 51% of shares in Serbia’s NIS at a price of 400 million euros. The acquisition was made in accordance with the purchase agreement between Gazprom Neft and the Serbian government.
The agreement also provides for the reconstruction and upgrade of NIS process facilities by 2012; investment will amount to at least 500 million euros. As part of the upgrade, measures will be taken to improve the quality of oil products so that they meet European standards (Euro-5).