BASF, Gazprom go ahead with asset swap after all
German chemicals giant BASF said Friday it has agreed with Russian gas behemoth Gazprom to go ahead with an asset swap the two had abandoned due to tensions between Russia and the West.
"Due to the difficult political environment, BASF and Gazprom had decided not to complete the asset swap planned for the end of the 2014," the German group explained in a statement.
"We continued our joint ventures in Europe and Russia. We did not exclude completing the asset swap at a later date and came to the joint decision to now complete the transaction," the statement said.
"We are working together with Gazprom as partners in the energy sector and will continue to extend our cooperation. We are convinced that natural gas from Russia is necessary to ensure energy security in Europe."
Under the deal, BASF's subsidiary Wintershall will obtain shares in a western Siberian gas field.
In exchange it will hand over its stake in their joint venture gas storage and trading business, plus a stake in an oil and gas exploration unit in the North Sea.
"The completion of the asset swap is expected by the end of 2015 and, as agreed upon in December 2013, will be financially retroactive to April 1, 2013. The swap was already approved by the European Commission at the beginning of December 2013," BASF said.
"With the swap, BASF will further expand its production of oil and gas and will exit the gas trading and storage business," BASF said.
The German government was quick, however, to warn that the decision to proceed with the asset swap should not be interpreted as a sign that tensions between Russia and the West were easing.
"These are entrepreneurial decisions over which the government has no influence," said Martin Schaefer, a spokesman for the foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
"Whether this will lead to a general thaw with Russia, I think we need to be sceptical" while the crisis in Ukraine persists, he said.
© 2015 AFP