RWE Czech Republic announced on Wednesday that due to Germany’s resolution to phase out nuclear power, EU unbundling legislation, and challenging economic conditions, the energy giant would sell off more assets than previously planned — including subsidiary Net4Gas, which owns and operates the Czech gas pipeline network. An RWE Group spokesman, however, said the sale was only being considered.
The “Carbon Fat Cats 2011” study by the UK environmental non-profit Sandbag shows Czech power giant ČEZ to be an oddity among its European energy peers. ČEZ has a huge surplus of emissions allowances while most companies in the sector — including giants like Germany’s E.ON and RWE — are running huge deficits. Generous government treatment for ČEZ, which is set to continue, is seen as the main reason.
For a third week the government didn’t manage to decide who will head the Energy Regulatory Office (ERÚ). The government’s hesitation is sending a very bad signals to the market because it is fueling speculation that the new chairman of the powerful energy watchdog will be chosen under pressure from lobbyists.
Leaks about Russian state gas company Gazprom investing in RWE could well center on the German energy giant’s Czech infrastructure assets, namely its gas pipeline company Net4Gas. Gazprom has tried before to get its hands on the strategic Czech pipeline — and a taking a direct stake in RWE appears to be out of the question — but the Russian giant might get further this time, given RWE’s financial problems.
Václav Bartuška, the government’s special commissioner for the expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant, says that the Czech Republic needs to be ready to meet demands for exporting electricity. According to him, only France and the Czech Republic are in a position to be major energy exporters. One reason is EU energy directives and another is that the Czech Republic has the technical know-how.
Talk of merging two pipeline rival projects — the EU-backed Nabucco and Russia’s South Stream — was revived by an unlikely source. The US ambassador to Rome, David Thorne, said Washington was in talks with Italian oil and gas firm Eni, which is Gazprom’s partner in South Stream. Whichever pipeline is built, it will have a big impact on the politics of the regions it passes through.
Thirteen European companies, including Czech state-controlled power utility ČEZ, have written a joint letter to the EU Commission asking for sanctions against Hungary over a set of special taxes imposed on foreign investors, which they say contravene EU law, the Brussel-based EU observer news portal reports.