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Russia sets dates for energy talks with EU
by Daniel J. Graeber
Moscow (UPI) Aug 5, 2014

Russia's Lukoil unloads retail centers in Europe
Moscow (UPI) Aug 5, 2013 - Russian energy company Lukoil said it sold off its service stations in Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic as part of an optimization strategy.

Hungarian energy company MOL acquired 44 retail service centers from Lukoil. It builds on a similar acquisition in the country from Italian energy company Eni, giving it 319 service stations in the Czech Republic.

Rival company Norm Benzinkut purchased 75 filling stations in Hungary and 19 in Slovakia.

The Russian energy company said the sales were part of an effort to streamline its asset base in Central Europe.

"The decision to sell the assets was taken as part of the effort to optimize LUKOIL's business in petroleum-product marketing," the company said in a statement Monday.

Lukoil last week made a similar move with its network of filling stations in Ukraine.

Lukoil was spared from the latest round of U.S. and European sanctions targeting Russia's energy secotr in response to the Kremlin's stance on Ukraine.

Terms of the Central European sales weren't disclosed.

Members from the European Union are expected to meet with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak at the end of August, the Kremlin said Tuesday.

European leaders are trying to diversify a natural gas sector that depends heavily on Russia. Most of the gas Russia sends to Europe runs through a Soviet-era pipeline network in Ukraine and ongoing crises there adds a layer of risk to the European energy sector.

An unnamed representative from the Energy Ministry told RIA Novosti a meeting between Novak and European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger is scheduled for the end of August to review the situation.

"Preliminarily, the meeting is scheduled to take place on Aug. 29," the representative said Tuesday.

No venue was announced.

Russian energy company Gazprom said Ukraine owes billions of dollars for recent gas deliveries. Debt disputes in 2006 and 2009 resulted in a Gazprom decision to cut gas through Ukraine, which left downstream consumers in Europe short of energy supplies.

Oettinger last week outlined ways to build on an energy plan calling for a 20 percent increase in renewable energy use, a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from a 1990 benchmark and a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency by 2020.

Oettinger said the new plan could reduce natural gas imports by 30 percent.


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