November 15, 2012 / 2:25 PM / in 5 years

RPT-Czech pipeline firm to announce acquisition, TAL stake eyed

PRAGUE, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Czech state crude importer Mero will announce a strategic acquisition next Tuesday, it said, days after a government source said it was near to buying a stake in the Transalpine (TAL) oil pipeline from Royal Dutch Shell.

Mero, which runs the IKL pipeline that hooks up to the TAL in Germany, has long been in talks to buy into the pipeline to help ensure an alternative source of oil besides crude from Russia, currently its main supplier.

A stake in the pipeline running from Italy’s Adriatic port of Trieste to Germany would grant priority access to its capacity, which has lately been constrained forcing the Czechs to temporarily shut down one refinery due to a lack of crude.

Mero said in a statement on Thursday that it would hold a news conference on Tuesday on “strategic acquisition abroad” without providing further details.

The statement said that apart from Czech officials, the conference would be attended by Peter Seifried, managing director of Shell Deutschland.

A Shell representative in London declined to comment.

A Czech government source told Reuters last week a deal was close for Mero to buy a stake in the TAL pipeline from Shell .

Shell holds a 24 percent stake in TAL. Czech news website reported in September Mero may be interested in buying a 6 percent stake from Shell.

The Central European nation imports most of its 7 million to 8 million tonnes of crude annually through the Druzhba pipeline from Russia, which over the past year has diverted oil away from this link to other destinations including Asia.

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