Taking over majority control over the NIS is under consideration

, News

Serbia is in a hurry to ease its energy dependence on Russia, because sanctions against Moscow are forcing Belgrade to make plans to weaken oil and gas ties with its traditional ally, the British newspaper Financial Times (The Financial Times FT) estimated today, quoting the statement of the President of Serbia about considering taking over the majority control over the Oil Industry of Serbia (NIS).

Serbia is considering a move to take majority control of NIS, the main oil company, from Russia’s Gazpromneft, as it rushes to protect itself from the impact of Moscow’s sanctions, Aleksandar Vučić told the FT.

The Serbian president added that Belgrade is preparing several more projects to diversify energy sources in the country, including closer cooperation with Hungary, in an attempt to reduce its dependence on Russia.

“It’s crazy that we didn’t think about connecting and building this infrastructure network before.” We were not used to war in Europe, but now it is different. Almost everything has changed. That’s why we are in a hurry”, said Vučić.

Due to the sanctions imposed on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine, Croatia will be prohibited from transporting shipments of Russian oil to Serbia from December, while NIS is threatened with a ban on doing business with countries and companies from the European Union.

According to people familiar with the situation, several groups, including the Government of Serbia and the Hungarian energy company MOL, were considering the purchase of a controlling stake from the majority owner of Gazpromneft, although negotiations on the sale have stalled, the British newspaper reported, adding that the Hungarian MOL refused to comment on the news.

For now, NIS can work normally because its refineries are also equipped to transport oil from Iraq and other countries, as well as because of Belgrade’s exemption from EU sanctions against Russian companies.

However, Vučić said that Serbia, a candidate for EU membership, should consider “all possibilities”, including taking over NIS and procuring alternative supplies.

“If there were other sanctions against Russian-owned companies, it would be a big problem for us.” And anyway, we have to react and provide enough oil and gas for our people,” Vučić told the Financial Times.

The British newspaper added that Vučić plans to spend around two billion euros a year on improving energy infrastructure, including new oil and gas connections with Bulgaria, Romania, North Macedonia and possibly Montenegro, Danas reports.