What will NIS do when the EU bans Russian oil?

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While information arrives every day that Europe is planning an embargo on the import of oil from Russia, the question is how Serbia will play and cope in this potentially crisis situation.

It does not boil down to the sale of a company that is not under Moscow’s control, or to the possible application of the Slovak model, which will be exempted from the measures applied to the EU due to its excessive dependence on Russian energy sources.

The news that the European Union will be completely prevented from using Russian gas has opened the question of what Serbia will do while playing between two fires. Although we often brag about being neutral, that our only path is Serbia, and not Russia or the EU, gas must pass through transport to certain countries of the union, and reach the Banat Palace and the Serbian consumer.

At this moment, that road is still passable, which does not mean that the relations between the EU and Russia will not reach the point of completely banning the transport of gas from Russia. In diplomacy and international relations, we should not be optimistic or too pessimistic, but consider what potential solutions are, so that we do not become an energy hostage in the conflict between the two sides.

Although the possibility that NIS, which is majority owned by the Russian side, will be nationalized, ie transferred to state ownership, was fearfully mentioned at the beginning, such announcements are hardly possible. It seemed at the beginning of May that there were tectonic changes in the ownership structure, because Gazprom bought more than 10 million shares of NIS, but President Aleksandar Vučić denied these allegations:

“This is not about any substantial change – Gazpromneft sold those shares to Gazprom. I guess that was done because Gazpromneft was under sanctions, and Gazprom was not. “Because Europeans need gas from Gazprom, but they don’t need oil from Gazpromneft,” Vucic said.

However, most experts estimate that Russia will not give up its giant easily, so the announcement about a possible purchase by the state is just a list of good wishes.

Instead of nationalization, the options are more realistic for NIS to be sold to a new company or for Serbia to be allowed to use the so-called energy crisis in the emerging energy crisis. Slovak model.

When it comes to the sale, information has recently emerged that the new owner of NIS could be the Azerbaijani State Oil Company ( SOKAR ), which even had contacts with the Government of Serbia and Gazpromneft.

Since Russia and Azerbaijan have good diplomatic relations, the eventual sale would be part of a broader agreement, which would not spill over into relations between the two sides. On the other hand, passing into the hands of SOKAR or some similar company would be a favorable solution for Western powers as well.

What is the Slovak model and why does Serbia long for it?

While the sale seems to be a solution that would be a realistic solution only in the coming years, it is estimated that the most optimal for our country is the application of the so-called. Slovak model . Although this country is a member of the EU, which means that it pursues a foreign policy with other members, too much dependence on energy from Russia will make Slovakia a sui generis case , for which special rules will apply.

She asked for an exemption from the embargo on oil imports from Russia, and according to the announcements, she will almost certainly be dependent on gas imports by the end of 2023. Until then, energy will go unhindered to Bratislava and other cities, regardless of the fact that the ring of countries around this country will cross paths with Moscow.

The mentioned model will be requested by Serbia, which in a special case, ie the slogan sui generis  , sees a way out of the energy impasse in which we find ourselves, Danas writes.
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