The Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) has said that to comply with the government’s request to check the books of the Administration of State Material Reserves (SSHR) would be futile, even if it had the full capacity to do so. PM Petr Nečas’ cabinet wants state auditors to investigate the controversial extra-budgetary “special accounts” — but the NKÚ has already made clear the SSHR buys high and sells low with impunity, and MPs have de facto legitimized the practice.
Still to be confirmed but clearly on the horizon, the sale of the Czech gas pipeline company Net4Gas by its German owner RWE is clearly a matter of concern for the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade (MPO). Minister Martin Kuba on Tuesday expressed his fears over the prospects of a non-strategic buyer ready to sell for a quick profit when the opportunity arose but also admitted he was legislatively powerless to intervene.
A north-south pipeline to connect a liquid natural gas (LNG) sea terminal in Poland with the Czech Republic and Slovakia has been labeled a priority energy project agreed by the EU’s energy ministers. The Czech Energy Regulatory Office, however, says the project may not be viable and even says it’s possible the projected LNG terminal in Poland will not be completed.
Just before midday on Tuesday in Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made a symbolic turn of a large tap to launch commercial operation of the first of two lines of the Nord Stream — the world’s longest submarine gas pipeline. The dynamics of the European gas market will never be the same.
Gas transmission system operators (TSOs) in Austria, Bavaria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic are mapping customer interest in a potential pipeline which would deliver compressed gas from sea ports in Italy to the CEE region over the Alps. The project is in the initial phase while several other pipeline routes to interconnect the Czech gas network with the Austrian network are still being considered.
US Vice-President Joe Biden made blunt warnings about reliance on Russian energy and encouraged Czechs to sign up US company Westinghouse to build new nuclear reactors in the country when he visited Prague in late 2009, diplomatic dispatches leaked by WikiLeaks have revealed. Unfortunately, previous remarks from the Prague embassy undercut some of Biden's warnings.
Companies building two gas pipelines bringing Russian gas under the Baltic sea to European markets announced their connection on Thursday. The link between the undersea Nord Stream pipeline and OPAL landward link in Germany connects up with another pipeline, GAZELLE, being built in the Czech Republic. The links provide an alternative to problematic gas transit across Ukraine and Belarus.
Shale gas has transformed the US energy market and promises to do the same for Poland by making it independent of natural gas imports, chiefly from Russia. Hopes of smaller exploitable finds in the Czech Republic have sparked foreign and local companies to file applications with the Environment Ministry to carry out research. Many environmentalists, however, will hope that they come back empty handed.
Almost six months of negotiations between the management of Česká rafinérská, which operates the Czech Republic’s two key oil refineries, and employees on a wage rise have yet to produce an agreement. Unions will vote on Wednesday whether to accept a compromise tabled by a mediator. Union leader Jan Klimeš says employees may strike at end of June if their offer is rejected.