RIGA - Viktor Kalyuzhny, Russia's new ambassador to Latvia, told journalists last week that the issue of resuming Russian oil transit through Latvia's Ventspils Port was being discussed, though he declined to say whether an ultimate solution was possible.
Kalyuzhny said that Ventspils Port businesses had discussed several possibilities for resuming oil transit via pipeline, yet the Russian side needed time to assess the proposed ideas. If both parties are willing, all problems can be solved, the minister stressed.
He did, however, say that selling the Ventspils Nafta holding company built around the port's oil terminal to a Russian company was not the solution.
"The situation in Ventspils won't become any better if it [the sale of Ventspils Nafta] takes place," the ambassador said, confirming that several Russian companies have inquired about the acquisition of Ventspils Nafta.
The crux of the problem is that Russia's north-western port of Primorsk is still developing, Kalyuzhny said.
"But Ventspils still remains an attractive port," he said.
The ambassador, who just handed his credentials to Latvian authorities, said he would not be dealing with the resumption of oil transit through Latvia, as the main task was to develop Russian-Latvian economic relations in general. Resuming oil deliveries was only "one item on this agenda," in his words.
Kalyuzhny commented that if Ventspils Port had a unified tariff policy, the current situation - with pipeline deliveries halted and the port relying wholly on supplies by train - could have been avoided.
Ventspils Nafta's largest shareholders are the Latvian state with 38.6 percent and Latvijas Naftas Tranzits (Latvia Oil Transit) with 42.8 percent, though it has the rights to buy back a 9.2 percent in the port from another nominal holder.