A war of words has been sparked over contradictory reports about falls in Russian crude oil shipments to the Czech Republic via the Druzhba pipeline. Key Czech crude importer and refiner Unipetrol initially claimed the issue was down to technical problems; Russian press reports say the real cause is a move by oil majors to end advantageous pricing for deliveries via the Druzhba, with the Czech Republic being used to test price rises they would like to pass on to the whole of the EU.
Gazprombank brought the 46 percent stake in Eriell in December 2011, but the information emerged only on Tuesday with the publication of the bank’s annual report. Founded in 1999, Eriell provides oil and gas exploration and drilling support services, predominantly to clients operating in the former Soviet Union.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas’ (Civic Democrats, ODS) government may be uncertain what direction to take the Czech state-owned oil pipeline operator Mero and oil products storage company and processor Čepro — both of which are strategic and highly profitable energy-sector assets — but foreign refiners MOL (Hungary), Lukoil (Russia) and PKN Orlen (Poland) are keenly aware of the benefits of integration.
Lukoil boss Vagit Alekperov says the oil company’s lack of refining facilities in the Czech Republic is preventing its further expansion here. Nevertheless, he says acquisition of a stake in a Czech refinery is not high on the agenda; Lukoil’s top priority in Europe now is to optimize production at refining facilities it already owns, consolidation in Italy and Croatia — and expansion in Spain.
The minor center-left Citizens’ Rights Party – Zemanites (SPOZ) has said it will field Miloš Zeman, the former Czech prime minister after whom the party is named, as a candidate for Czech presidency in 2013 but only if ordinary cizitens are allowed to cast ballots. “I am willing to candidate in direct — but not parliamentary — elections,” Zeman said, as cited by Czech news agency ČTK.
Czech petrochemicals firm Unipetrol, the majority shareholder in top Czech oil refiner Česká rafinérská, confirmed in its 2010 annual report published Thursday that it is ready to increase its 51.22 stake in the joint venture, if either Eni International or the Shell Overseas Investments are willing to sell their minority stakes. But it may have to outbid Russian giant Gazprom.
Česká rafinérská majority shareholder Unipetrol wants “detailed discussion” about the possible sale of Eni’s minority stake in the top Czech oil refinery to Russian energy giant Gazprom. The Czech government is dead set against it, and analysts say Unipetrol could be pushed to overpay if it exercises its preemptive rights to prevent Gazprom from entering into its key refining asset.