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The reduction of costs at Lithuania's LNG terminal, earlier planned as of July, is being postponed for at least a month after Achemos Grupe (Achemos Group), one of the largest private capital groups in the country and a minority shareholder in Klaipedos Nafta (Klaipeda Oil), the terminal's operator, objected to the overhaul of the LNG terminal's activity.
LNG terminal's cost-cutting becomes hostage in shareholder's dispute
© DELFI (E.Skardžiaus nuotr.)

Moreover, it will complicate the process of harmonization of state support with the European Commission.

Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaiciunas says that during the transfer of the terminal's regulated activity into a separate company, various options for such activity were considered. Gintaras Balciunas, a deputy board chairman at Achemos Grupe, does not discount the possibility of turning to court if interests of minority shareholders are violated.

"Our questions are split into two parts. One is related to the provision of information as we have not received what we asked for. Second, in our opinion, the establishment of a separate company, bypassing the Civil Code, i.e., not by means of splitting the company but by establishing a new one, violates the rights of all minority shareholders, and this is what we have told all minority shareholders. And we have also informed Klaipedos Nafta," Balciunas told BNS Lithuania on Friday.

Vaiciunas assured that the interests of Klaipedos Nafta's minority shareholders are being taken into account but, he said, any alternatives to the transfer of the terminal's activity would take much longer than the chosen one.

"We have no choice but to comply with legislation, and this is what we are doing. That complaint filed (by Achemos Grupe – BNS Lithuania), in that context, I would like to state very clearly that we considered all alternatives to that establishment of a separate special subsidiary. The very goal is to reduce possible risks to all shareholders, also including minority shareholders. (…) That's what the decision was as our main goal was to cut the LNG terminal's safety constituent," Vaiciunas told BNS Lithuania on Friday.

In his words, Achemos Grupe's latest complaint now poses a risk that decisions on the terminal's cost reduction would have to be delayed for at least a month. It had been planned to reduce costs by around 40 percent as of July, and Jonava-based fertilizer producer Achema would have benefited the most as it uses the largest amount of gas and covers the largest share of the LNG terminal's costs.

The energy minister acknowledged that the existing circumstances are also complicating the harmonization of the state's aid in buying the LNG terminal out with the European Commission.

"We had a plan and I've had no doubt about it up until now to harmonize the state's aid over July. Yesterday's complaint changes these things considerably. The key thing is just that the EC's decision on state aid technically should be issued specifically to an enterprise of special purpose, i.e, the LNG terminal," Vaiciunas said.

A meeting of Klaipedos Nafta's shareholders failed to make decisions on the transfer of the terminal's activity on Thursday after a representative of the largest shareholder, the Ministry of Energy, failed to attend. Vaisiunas said the ministry's unilateral decision on a new enterprise, SGD Terminalas (LNG Terminal), would have made the situation even worse.

The new subsidiary would include the whole LNG terminal's activity related to movable and immovable assets, the existing targeted loans, the LNG storage vessel's lease contract. The transaction had been planned for Thursday, valued (the price of a new share issue) at around 28.4 million euros.

The Lithuanian government and Seimas earlier backed the plan to buy the terminal's storage vessel out to optimally distribute the terminal's costs from 2019 until the end of 2044. As it was reported earlier, loans from banks and the distribution of the terminal's costs over a period of 25 years, until 2044, would reduce the terminal's annual maintenance costs by 23 million euros.

The State of Lithuania owns 72.32 percent of Klaipedos Nafta, and Achemos Grupe owns another 10.41 percent.

BNS
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