Gazprom Eyes Joint Venture In Slovakia

Slovakia may form a gas joint venture with Gazprom or another private company to boost competition on the local market, Prime Minister Robert Fico said Friday after meeting Gazprom representatives.

Gazprom is interested in such a venture, deputy chief executive Alexander Medvedev said after the meeting in Bratislava. The government has also offered a role to Germany's RWE, which is already active on the Slovak market dominated by Slovensky Plynarensky Priemysel, Fico said.

Slovakia, which imports nearly all of its gas from Russia, has been one of the EU members hardest hit by gas supply disruptions earlier this month. GDF Suez and E.ON Ruhrgas manage Slovensky, together holding 49 percent, which secured emergency imports of the commodity using alternative pipelines. The government owns the rest.

"It is in our interest to create a rival for Slovensky," Fico said. "The government can imagine creating a joint venture in which the state will have a dominant position, creating an effective competitor to Slovensky."

Slovakia has also decided against restarting its Soviet-era Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear plant, Slovak Energy Minister Lubomir Jahnatek said Friday, Interfax reported. He said the country's reasons for restarting the plant were no longer relevant, as the government on Friday lifted a state of emergency called amid the gas cutoff.

(Bloomberg, MT)