At the end of last year, OMV and Gazprom have inked a “general agreement” for Romanian and Bulgaria assets swap, writes the Romanian news portal Hotnews.ro, citing insider sources. According to them, OMV will obtain access to the exploration and exploitation of large fields in Siberia. In return, Gazprom will receive the refinery “Petrobras” in Ploiesti, which is owned by OMV Petrom, and gas stations in Bulgaria.
Under this agreement, Russia will ask to become partner in projects that OMV is developing together with the Americans from Exxon Mobil. Exxon Mobil and OMV Petrom hold licenses for the exploration and exploitation in the Romanian Black Sea zone. Austria’s OMV is the majority owner of the Romanian oil company Petrom.
By early January, the negotiations have not yet been completed and any changes are still possible, according to the sources of Hotnews.ro.
Information about the joint plans of OMV and Gazprom first became in public in 2014, but the relations between the two groups have intensified after the change of the OMV leadership. The new manager of OMV Group Rainer Seele is the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Germany and Russia and was Chairman of the Board of the German company Wintershall, which was in very close business relations with Gazprom, recalls Hotnews.ro. According to the portal, Rainer Seele has ambitions to expand the group’s business in Russia, aimed primarily at the large fields in Siberia.
Last summer, OMV and Gazprom signed a major agreement under which OMV will become partner of the Russian company to develop oil and gas fields in Russia. In return, Gazprom will be offered other assets, said the Austrian group. Several months later, OMV and Gazprom signed an agreement on doubling the capacity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which increases Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. Shell, E.ON, BASF and Engie also joined this agreement.
Romanian experts, interviewed by HotNews.ro, have expressed concern about the future of the refinery “Petrobras”. The Russian energy business in Romania has a controversial reputation. Romanian authorities started criminal proceedings against Lukoil for defrauding the budget by more than 200 million euro and froze the company’s assets. Considering these circumstances, the question arises whether the Romanian authorities will also intervene in the new deal with Russian participation, notes Hotnews.ro.
OMV: This is nonsense
“These rumors are complete nonsense. We have stated clearly, that no shares in OMV and thereof also OMV Petrom are on the table. Any assumptions regarding the asset swap are false as we are in the beginning of the negotiation process and decisions are not made yet. What we also made absolutely clear: we will not give up management rights in any of our strategic assets. OMV Petrom was, is and will be a core asset and Romania remains to be a core market,” is the answer of the Austrian company.
Nevertheless, this comment reveals that the process of negotiating such a deal is underway.
Bivol approached OMV Bulgaria with a request for comment. The PR agency, representing the group in Bulgaria, promised a response by the end of the day, but such response was not received.
Gazprom already has a network of gas stations in Bulgaria through its subsidiary in Serbia “NIS Petrol”. They are powered by the refinery in Pancevo, Serbia. The publication of the Romanian site does not specify whether all OMV gas stations in Bulgaria, 92 total, are subject of the agreement. If the Russians from Gazprom acquire the entire OMV network, they will have the second largest market share after Lukoil and will be third by the number of gas stations after Petrol and Lukoil. Overall, the market share of Russian companies in the retail fuel distribution in Bulgaria will exceed 70%.
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