Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbian Government may be forced to acquire the majority stake in the national oil company NIS from Russian GazpromNeft in order to evade negative effects of EU sanctions against Russia.
President Vucic said in an interview that the country is already planning several projects for diversification of its energy sources in order to reduce its dependence on Russian energy imports, predominantly in cooperation with neighboring Hungary.
Due to EU sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Croatia has banned shipments of Russian crude oil to NIS’ refinery in Pancevo over the JANAF pipeline. Due to majority Russian ownership, NIS could be also banned from doing business with companies in the European Union.
Soon after the start of war in Ukraine, several interested parties including the Serbian Government and Hungarian oil and gas company MOL initiated negotiations over the purchase of majority stake in NIS from the Russians, but those talks were stopped.
He said that, currently, NIS can operate normally, since it mostly processes crude oil from Iraq, but some unforeseen issues may occur if EU sanctions against Russia are tightened in the future.
Last month, President Vucic announced that the country will invest 12 billion euros in the next six years in infrastructure projects aimed to diversify Serbia’s oil and natural gas supply. He stressed that Serbia needs new oil pipeline and announced that the project for the construction of 128 kilometers long pipeline that will connect to Hungary has been approved. According to him, this will give Serbia another route for crude oil supply under much favorable conditions.
He also presented another option – the construction of oil pipeline through North Macedonia to the Albanian port of Durres, a project which would cost some 100 million euros.