Nationalization of ammonia cargo stuck in Ventspils-based terminal would be worst case scenario - Pless

  • 2022-04-23
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - A decision to nationalize the liquid ammonia cargo that has stuck in a Ventspils-based port terminal of a sanctioned company would be the worst case scenario, Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister Arturs Toms Pless (Development/For) said in an interview with TV3 channel Friday. 

The minister said that experts and he visited Ventspils on Thursday to make sure the ammonia is stored in accordance with safety and technological standards.

Pless was also reassured that Ventamonjaks stevedore is "fully prepared" to comply with the State Environmental Service's instruction to remove the ammonia from its terminal in Ventspils Port by May 10. 

"There is also an interest in taking over this cargo. At this moment, it is important that the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) greenlighted the transaction, which first of all is essential for maintaining a safe operation of this equipment, and secondly, would allow removing this cargo from the territory," the minister said. 

Pless said that Ventamonjaks representatives reassured him that the company is working in close communication with the FCMC. "Decisions have to be taken very fast now, because this [cargo] cannot be compared to some metal cargo that has been sanctioned and stuck and can remain in place for months on end. Here, we are talking about a hazardous cargo, where each minute and hour matters and a clear solution is needed," said Pless.

"In the worst case scenario, we do not rule out a nationalization of the cargo. It is one of the scenarios. The state could sell the cargo on the market and earn money for it. But I do not think that this is the scenario we should pursue," the minister said. 

As reported, the State Environmental Service has instructed Ventamonjaks company to remove liquid ammonia from its terminal in the port of Ventspils by May 10.

Ventamonjaks, which has been subject to Western sanctions over Russia's military aggression, has also been given until April 29 to report to the State Environmental Service on how it plans to remove around 40,000 tons of ammonia from the terminal.

Until then, the company has been ordered to ensure a safe storage of the hazardous substance.

Ventamonjaks is working with state authorities, credit institution and a workgroup involving representatives of the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) to find a solution for the removal of the ammonia cargo.

At the moment, there are no indications that the ammonia cargo might be posing any risks, but the state is prepared to take over the storage of the cargo if needed.

Pless (Development/For) and State Environmental Service head Elita Baklane-Ansberga visited Ventspils on Thursday to assess options for removing the ammonia cargo from the port terminal.

The Ventamonjaks terminal is able to ensure a safe storage of the ammonia cargo at least until May 15 but the sanctioned company's ability to ensure the cargo's safety beyond that date is under question.

A 55 percent stake in Ventamonjaks belongs to the Cyprus-registered company Uralchem Freight Limited Kipra, which in turn belongs to Belarusian-Russian oligarch Dmitry Mazepin. The remaining 45 percent in Ventamonjaks belong to Halcyon Capitals, whose owner is Janis Austrins, the son-in-law of former Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs.