Russian companies likely to buy Ventspils Nafta

  • 2005-03-09
  • From wire reports
RIGA - Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis placed his bet on Russian oil companies as the most likely to buy the state's stake in Ventspils Nafta holding company.
"Naturally, it is important for the future success of business that oil transit through Ventspils should be resumed and without political influence. In principle this means that the most realistic buyers of Ventspils Nafta could be Russian companies engaged in the same business," Kalvitis told the Baltic News Service on March 4.

He added that Russian oil exports through Ventspils Port were closely linked with Latvian-Russian relations, and that Russia was currently trying to solve economic issues by political methods.

"While economically it would be much better for Russia to export oil through Ventspils Port, the country would not do it for political reasons, using Novoprimorsk in the same region instead," said the PM.

He added that Russian Ambassador to Latvia Viktor Kalyuzhny's statements, which suggested that the Baltic state should surrender Ventspils Nafta to Russia in order to resume oil transit, definitely did not facilitate a normal dialogue.

"If they are interested in acquiring a stake in Ventspils Nafta, this should be negotiated on mutually profitable terms. It is no good to say, 'We won't give you oil until you give us [Ventspils Nafta] shares,' as has been done by separate Russian politicians and the ambassador," said Kalvitis.

However, the government has not yet received any specific offers from Russian oil companies about the purchase of Ventspils Nafta shares.

Parliament recently authorized Economics Minister Krisjanis Karins to begin talks with other Ventspils Nafta shareholders about forming a combined block of shares in order to sell the company stake at an open auction.

The state's decision to sell its shares is a priority - business is just not one of its main functions. Moreover, Ventspils Nafta has been incurring losses since Russia stopped oil deliveries through the pipeline.

The state currently owns 38.62 percent in Ventspils Nafta, and the largest private shareholder, Latvijas Naftas Tranzits (Latvian Oil Transit) holds 49.3 percent.

Ventspils Nafta's registered capital is 104.5 million lats (148.7 million euros).