MPs shut down gas giant's bid to delay unbundling

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The Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee on Tuesday denied the Latvijas gaze gas utility request to postpone the unbundling of the company, reported LSM's Latvian-language service.

After reviewing about 160 proposed amendments to Energy law, MPs decided that the unbundling and sale of the transmission and storage entity from the company must be finished by the end of 2017. 

MPs also agreed to adopt norms into Energy law for allowing the energy utility Latvenergo and other huge gas consumers to at least lead talks with Latvijas gaze over buying natural gas from abroad before the opening of the market in 2017.

The gas utility will be obliged to hold talks with businesses that want to use the company's transmission infrastructure to buy gas from sellers outside Latvia. 

However it is not yet known when the amendments will be adopted as a response from the Legal department of the Saeima over the legal soundness of the proposals is expected before the final reading in the parliament. 

While Aigars Kalvītis, former Prime Minister and current head of the company was irate after the committee session. "Such unprofessionality on the part of politicians is unprecedented in modern Latvia," he told Latvian Radio. According to him, the amendments have a number of contradictions, in addition to violating the shareholders' rights to do what they want with their property.

"Lawyers will have a lot of work, but the state will have to spend a lot to mend the mistakes. Shareholders will decide whether we'll go to court," he said.

Although Latvijas gaze is not against opening the gas market, slated for April 3, 2017, the gas utility has suggested moving the deadline for selling the unbundled transmission and storage entity to the end of 2018.

The Economics Ministry insists that the new company should be sold by December 31, 2017. 

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