Vucic in The Financial Times: Serbia Considering Acquisition of Majority Control Over NIS

Source: Beta Monday, 07.11.2022. 13:12
Serbia is in a rush to mitigate the energy dependence on Russia, because the sanctions against Moscow are forcing Belgrade to make plans for loosening the oil and gas ties with its traditional ally, as estimated by the British daily The Financial Times, citing the statement made by the president of Serbia about considering the acquisition of a majority control over Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS).

Serbia is considering the move of taking over a majority control over NIS, the main oil company, from the Russian Gazpromneft, because it is in a hurry to protect itself from the impact of the sanctions against Moscow, Aleksandar Vucic said for FT.

The Serbian president added that Belgrade was preparing several other projects for the diversification of energy sources in the country, including a closer cooperation with Hungary, in an attempt to reduce its dependence on Russia.

– It is crazy that we didn’t think earlier about connecting and building this infrastructural network. We were not used to having a war in Europe, but things are different now. Nearly everything has changed. That is why we are in a hurry – Vucic said.

Due to the sanctions against Russia that were imposed due to its invasion of Ukraine, from December, Croatia will be banned from transporting shipments of Russian oil to Serbia, whereas NIS is being threatened with a ban on doing business with the countries and companies in the European Union.

Those familiar with the situation say that several groups, including the Government of Serbia and the Hungarian energy company MOL, have considered buying a controlling interest from the majority owner, Gazpromneft, although the sale negotiations have been stopped, the British daily writes and adds that the Hungarian MOL has declined to comment on the news.

At the moment, NIS can operate normally, because its refineries are equipped for the transport of oil from Iraq and other countries, thanks to the exemption of Belgrade from the EU sanctions against Russian companies.

However, Vucic said that Serbia, as a candidate for EU membership, should consider “all the possibilities”, including “the acquisition of NIS and the procurement of alternative supply routes”.

– If there were any other sanctions against Russian-owned companies, it would be a big problem for us. And we have to react anyway and secure enough oil and gas for our people – Vucic said for FT.

The British daily added that Vucic planned to spend around EUR 2 billion a year on improving the energy infrastructure, including new oil and gas connections with Bulgaria, Romania, North Macedonia and probably Montenegro.

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