PRAGUE Nov 12 Czech state pipeline operator
Mero is likely to take a stake in the TAL pipeline, a government
source said on Monday, which could help ensure an alternative
source of oil besides Russia, its traditional main supplier.
The Central European nation imports most of its 7 million to
8 million tonnes of crude annually through the Druzhba pipeline
from Russia, which has diverted oil away from Druzhba to other
destinations including Asia over the past year.
This has increased the importance of TAL for the Czech
Republic, which wants to ease its dependence on Russian energy
Czech operator Mero has sought a stake for years in TAL,
which transports crude from the Italian port of Trieste to
Germany. From there, the IKL pipeline connects to two principal
A stake in the TAL pipeline would grant priority access to
its capacity, which has lately been constrained and has forced
the Czechs to temporarily shut down one refinery due to a lack
"It seems it will all end up well," a Czech source told
Reuters, adding that Mero might make an announcement next week.
Mero in September reached a preliminary deal with Royal Dutch
Shell to take over a small stake in TAL, subject to
agreement by other shareholders who have right of first refusal
to buy any additional shares.
A spokeswoman at Mero declined to comment on the matter.
Officials at the Czech Industry Ministry, which oversees the
sector, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The main Czech refiner, Ceska Rafinerska, is 51 percent
owned by Unipetrol, controlled by Poland's PKN Orlen
. Shell and ENI hold minority stakes in
A representative for Shell in the Czech Republic could not
be reached for comment.