Monday, April 28, 2008
Gazprom Making a Deal with Serbia?
Apr. 25, 2008 - Kommersant - Russian Minister of Industry and Energy Viktor Khristenko will meet with Serbian Minister of Infrastructure Velimir Ilic, who told Serbian Vecernje Novosti newspaper in advance of the meeting that Russia is promising Serbia advantageous energy impost in exchange for a 51-percent share in the Serbian state-owned oil refinery complex NIS. This is the first time Russia has offered energy supply benefits outside the CIS. According to Ilic, the sides have already agreed on a 15-20 percent reduction in export duties on petroleum and natural gas for Serbia and the benefits will be modeled on the Customs Union with Belarus. Agreements on cooperation in the oil and gas sector were signed during the visit of Serbian President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica to Moscow in January. They included a supplemental protocol on the purchase of NIS by Gazprom Neft for €400 million and promised investment of €500 million. In addition, Gazprom promised that its South Stream gas pipeline would pass through Serbia and Serbia promised Gazprom two years of market protection for NIS products. Yesterday, the Serbian parliament postponed the possible ratification of the agreements reached in Moscow until a new parliament is formed on May 11. Last month, Serbian Minister of the Economy and Regional Development Mladjan Dinkic suggested that the new parliament should reconsider the deal. The Russian Ministry of Industry and Energy, which is managing energy relations between Russia and Serbia, yesterday would neither confirm nor deny the meeting between Russian and Serbian delegations. A ministry spokesman claimed to be unaware of any benefits offered Serbia.