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Serbia considers acquiring a majority stake in the oil and gas group NIS

The Serbian government has announced it is considering acquiring a majority stake in the Serbian multinational oil and gas group Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS), for which the Russian oil and gas company Gazprom currently owns 56.15% of shares. Serbia is trying to reduce its dependency on Russian hydrocarbons, as Gazprom was hit by sanctions when the European Union decided to ban Russian oil supplies via the Adriatic oil pipeline in Croatia starting from December 2022.

In late August 2022, the Serbian government announced that Serbia will no longer be able to import Russian crude oil from 1 November 2022 as a consequence of the sixth package of EU sanctions against Russia. Around 50% of the country’s oil imports were met by Russia prior to the war in Ukraine.

Serbia said that its finances were resilient enough to secure alternatives to Russian energy to tackle potential supply shortages. Serbia has announced it plans to import oil from Azerbaijan starting in 2023 and plans on negotiating with Iraq and Venezuela for oil imports. In addition, Serbia announced its intention to buy about 2 Mt of coal from China and Indonesia, as coal represents about 70% of Serbia’s power generation (2020). In 2020, oil represented 22% of Serbia’s total primary energy consumption, behind coal (50%).