ZAGREB, April 11 Croatian oil and gas company
INA said its gas trading arm could lose up to 350
million kuna ($63.7 million) due to a forced sale of its
reserves in the Croatian gas storage facility.
In February, the government named state-owned power board
HEP to replace INA's gas trading company, Prirodni Plin, as the
gas supplier to local firms and municipalities, which then sell
gas to households. This obliges INA to free its storage capacity
"Prirodni Plin has a bit over 200 million cubic metres of
gas in the Okoli storage facility left, which is almost 40
percent of Okoli's overall capacity," INA said in a statement on
It said it had asked the government to allow it to sell the
stored gas gradually until the end of July but was rejected.
"We think this is not fair and is damaging for the company.
Such decisions destroy the value of the company by putting INA
in an unfavourable market position against competitors," INA
The government said its decision to replace INA with HEP was
prompted by the fact that Prirodni Plin had been losing money,
which the government said had put future deliveries at risk.
Prirodni Plin has been piling up losses for years because of
regulated household gas prices. Croatia, which joined the EU
last July, wants to keep regulated prices for households for
another three years.
"The sale of gas from Okoli will have four rounds, and in
the last round the price could be merely 25 percent of the
starting price. Such a sale would inflict losses for Prirodni
Plin worth 350 million kuna," INA said.
Hungary's MOL owns almost 50 percent of INA, while
the Croatian government holds close to 45 percent.
The two have been at odds in recent years over
decision-making and investment policy. Croatia complains it does
not have enough say in INA and accuses MOL of failing to fulfill
its investment promises, notably in the refinery business.
MOL says that Croatia's bureaucracy is hampering its
investments and that the government failed to take over INA's
loss-making gas trading unit, as promised in a shareholders
agreement signed in 2009.
($1 = 5.4960 Croatian Kunas)
(Reporting by Igor Ilic; editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and