Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Agreement Close on Lithuanian Refinery Privatization

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Lithuania's drawn-out sell-off of its key oil concern Mazheikiu Nafta to U.S. energy group Williams appears to be in the home stretch, with both sides hopeful for a close by month's end.

For more than 1 1/2 years, Williams has been in talks over taking an equity stake and operational control in 88.5-percent state-owned Mazheikiu, made up of a pipeline system, newly built crude terminal and the only refinery in the Baltic states.

"We expect to come to an agreement by Aug. 31 with the closing date one month later," Economics Minister Eugenijus Maldeikis said Thursday.

Williams agreed to buy a 33 percent stake for $150 million in late July of last year. But when details emerged in April of a larger than expected working capital shortfall - to be compensated by the government - the deal was amended to include an option for Williams to double its stake with cash injections.

Lithuania's president, prime minister and parliamentary chairman met Wednesday, voicing support for the deal amid news last week that efforts by the Economics Ministry to renegotiate key items could derail the talks.

Earlier this week the new government released a laundry list of proposals by the economy ministry to which Williams had agreed, including allowing other financial investors into the shareholder structure and reducing government liabilities.

"We are anticipating the government's initial response by the end of the week.

"If so it would facilitate concluding the agreements by the end of the month," Williams Lithuania general manager Randy Majors said.