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Romanian President tells government to delay sale of Romgaz

Romanian President Traian Basescu said he had told the government to delay plans to sell the last state- controlled natural gas producer, Romgaz SA, until it analyzes past sales of energy assets.

The government said in February it would put off selling 51% of Romgaz for at least six months for more study. The latest statement by Basescu, who has the power to intervene in the sale if he sees it as a threat to national security, indicates a further, indefinite delay. “I asked the industry minister to not accelerate the process of privatizing energy companies, particularly Romgaz, and only take up the issue after analyzing privatization of energy assets up until now,” Basescu said today in comments broadcast on Realitatea television. He spoke at the Bucharest international airport before flying to visit Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to discuss energy issues. Romania's government sold Petrom SA to Austria's OMV AG in 2004, leaving Romgaz as the sole natural-gas producer in state control. In an interview with foreign journalists on November 11, Basescu said Romania will build more nuclear reactors and may reopen coal mines to reduce its reliance on natural gas. Romania, which imports about 40% of the natural gas it uses, suffered a temporary reduction in gas deliveries by Russia's OAO Gazprom early this year, disrupting gas distribution as a cold snap hit eastern Europe. (Bloomberg)