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Romania, Kazakh oil firm settle debt dispute

13 may 2013, 17:54
0
KazMunaiGas headquarters in Astana. Photo by Danial Okassov©
KazMunaiGas headquarters in Astana. Photo by Danial Okassov©
Romania and the Kazakh oil company KazMunayGaz have settled their dispute over a 500-million-euro ($658-million) debt and pledged to invest together in energy projects, AFP reports citing the Romanian government.

KazMunayGaz agreed to buy back from the Romanian state a 26.69 percent stake in the Petromidia refinery for $200 million.

Romania will hold on to an 18-percent stake in the facility for at least three years.

If after that it decides to sell, the Kazakh firm will hold an option to buy the stake "at the right price."

KazMunayGaz and Romania also promised to set up an investment fund that should attract up to $1.0 billion over the next seven years to be used for energy projects.

"My concern was less the price we got for the stake, which is actually a good price, but rather the opportunity to see Romania remain a strategic economic partner for KazMunayGaz, attract investments in the Petromidia refinery and set up this investment fund," Prime Minister Victor Ponta said.

The dispute started in 2010, when the Kazakh company converted into shares a debt from 2003, giving the Romanian state a 44.69-percent stake in Petromidia refinery.

But Romania was facing a swelling pubic deficit, and the government blasted the decision as illegal and insisted on being paid back in cash.

After losing a lawsuit against KazMunayGaz in 2011, Romanian authorities agreed to seek a compromise solution.

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