According to Serbian media, State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) is interested in the acquisition of a majority share in Serbian oil company NIS, currently held by Russian GazpromNeft.
GazpromNeft holds 56.15 % stake in the company. Since the launch of Russian invasion of Ukraine and the introduction of EU sanctions against Russian companies, there were fears that the operation of NIS will be in jeopardy. Croatian oil transportation company JANAF announced that it will stop supply crude oil to NIS after 15 May, however, the EU exempted Western Balkan countries from its sanctions, so the potential problems with the supply are avoided for now.
In order to ensure uninterrupted operation of the company and its oil refinery in Pancevo, Serbian Government has the option of nationalizing NIS, thereby returning it to the hands of the state. Serbia could also buy out the majority package of shares from Gazpromneft. The only other option is the sale of Russian share to a third party.
SOCAR is involved in oil and gas exploitation in Azerbaijan and owns retail fuel networks in Azerbaijan, Romania, Georgia, Ukraine and Switzerland. The company is the biggest shareholder, with a 58 % stake, in the Trans- Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) and has a 20 % stake in the Trans-Adriatic (TAP) gas pipeline.