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Deputy PM Đelić: NIS sale depends on pipeline project

Serb Deputy Prime Minister Božidar Đelić said the sale of NIS to Gazprom without a tender is dependent on a pipeline passing through Serbia.

The deputy prime minister said that there were details in the contract that needed to be discussed.

“The Russian Federation and Gazprom had a choice for the pipeline to pass through either Romania or Serbia. To pass through Serbia, their condition was to sign a deal incorporating the sale of NIS,” Đelić told today’s edition of daily Danas.

He reiterated that he had advocated NIS’s gradual privatization, first through the sale of the minority holding via the capital market, then the majority holding five to ten years later.

“In the meantime, the Russo-Italian Southern Stream pipeline project has surfaced, and it’s of the utmost importance for our country to be part of that project. We’re completely dependent on Russia when it comes to gas and the constant stable supply of energy,” explained Đelić.

Asked whether the sale of NIS would be permitted without the market, the minister replied that “energy is a very specific field, and it’s not just a question of the market, but about guaranteeing stable energy supply.”

“In the coming years, it will become a key issue for many countries, and it’s vitally important for Serbia to be among them. Not to mention the fact that the passage of the most significant energy project in the next decade has great value for us for geo-political reasons,” he stressed.

Đelić said that, in the event of the Serbian Oil Industry (NIS) not being sold to Gazprom, it was not just a matter of €400 million - the cost of the majority stake in the company - but also, of the significant investment of at least €500 million, and the fact that Gazprom was the leading international oil company with an excess of 20 billion tons per year.

“That fact, and not Russo-Serbian friendship, is guaranteeing the future of our refineries in Pančevo and Novi Sad. There are still many other elements of the agreement that need to be discussed,” the minister pointed out.

He said that, during talks with the Russians, the best interests of the state, Vojvodina and NIS would be taken into account.

Đelić ruled out the possibility of Jat and Nikola Tesla Airport being sold to Russian companies without a tender or the stock exchange. (B92)