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Kommersant – Moscow,Russia: New Shareholder in the North European Gas Pipeline’s Consortium

Gazprom and Netherlands’s Gasunie reached a tentative agreement yesterday on Gasunie’s possible joining the consortium, set up to build the North European Gas Pipeline. Gasunie may secure a 9 percent stake in the project. The deal will help to extend the pipeline’s route to the Netherlands and supply gas from Russia to Great Britain via the BBL pipeline.

N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie’s head Marcel Kramer, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller and director general of Gazexport Alexander Medvedev held talks yesterday. Unofficial sources report that the parties agreed to sign a memorandum of intentions between Gasunie and current shareholders of the North European Pipeline project, Gazprom, E.ON Ruhrgas and BASF, for the Dutch company to buy 9 percent of stocks in NEPGC, the operator of the pipeline.

Gazprom is currently holding 51 percent in the project while E.ON Ruhrgas and BASF own 24.5 percent each. Gazprom is not going to reduce its shareholding, the executives at the Russian gas monopolist state, which means that the total share of the German companies in the joint venture will go down to 40 percent if the deal goes through.

Gasunie, the operator of a pipeline network, will not compete with the Germans on Europe’s gas sales market. Gasunie Trade & Supply is independent and is controlled by Royal Dutch/Shell and ExxonMobil.

Gazprom’s interest in the Dutch firm is easy to explain. Gasunie is the major shareholder in the consortium that runs the construction project of the BBL gas pipeline which will soon connect gas deposits in the North Sea with the coast of the Netherlands and Great Britain. The joining of the BBL and the NEGP pipelines could link the Dutch company’s network with Gazprom’s Baltic pipelines and supply gas to the lucrative British market. Gazprom has so far been unsuccessful in attempts to enter this market directly.

by  Dmitry Burtin, Amsterdam

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