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Serbia to review deal on sale NIS oil company to Gazprom

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Serbia is set to review a deal to sell Russia a stake in its national oil company, including pricing, almost six months after it was signed, the economics minister of the Balkan country told TV on Friday.

A protocol on the sale of a 51% stake in Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS) to Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian energy giant Gazprom, for €400 million ($648 million) and investment in the modernization of the company’s facilities worth at least €500 million ($788 million) was signed in Moscow on January 25. Mladjan Dinkic, who also holds the position of a deputy prime minister, warned Serbian negotiators would put the country’s interests first and show “no indulgence” considering all market factors before making any decision. He said the negotiations would focus on protecting the environment and the price offered by Gazprom for the state-owned NIS assets. “We will try to do all we can in Serbia’s interests,” the economics minister said.

On Thursday, Dinkic was appointed head of a working group to review the company’s price. The group also includes Finance Minister Diana Dragutinovic, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, Energy Minister Petar Skundic and a number of experts. PM Mirco Cvetkovic said on Thursday, the government had submitted the agreement to parliament for ratification without the protocol, which includes the original price for the 51% stake.

Gazprom voiced its position in Belgrade earlier this week. Dmitry Malyshev, an aide to the CEO of Gazprom Neft, told local business papers, that delays in ratifying the deal were delaying the NIS modernization and unbeneficial for Serbia. He added Gazprom Neft had no plans to increase the contracted sum, recalling that the Russia and Serbia are also bound by an agreement on NIS stake had been valued by both Russian and independent experts. the South Stream gas pipeline, under which a 400-km (248 mile) leg will be built in Serbia for Russian natural gas transits and supplies to the Balkans. (rian.ru)

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