Russia and West wrestle over energy assets amid Ukraine invasion

Russia and West wrestle over energy assets amid Ukraine invasion

Russia this week took control of the Russian assets of Finland's Fortum (FORTUM.HE) and Germany's Uniper (UN01.DE), which both operate power plants in Russia, and warned it could seize more. The two energy firms' shares were placed in the temporary control of Rosimushchestvo, the federal government property agency, and will be run by managers from Rosneft (ROSN.MM).Kremlin said the decision was taken in response to "aggressive actions of unfriendly countries" and mirrored attitude of Western governments towards foreign assets of Russian companies. Many foreign companies sought to exit from Russia amid sweeping Western sanctions following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022, but were unable to divest their assets due to legal or financial restrictions. Here's a list of some of the energy companies that were taken over by Western or Russian governments, or that have struggled to sell their businesses:

Last November, Germany nationalised Gazprom Germania, a subsidiary of Russia's gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM), after Gazprom quit it without explanation. The company was renamed Sefe (Securing Energy for Europe), and the German government injected 6.3 billion euros ($6.92 billion) to recapitalise it with European Commission approval. Gazprom Germania had total assets of 8.4 billion euros and equity of 2.2 billion euros in 2020, according to regulatory filings.

Germany, via its energy regulator, last autumn put two German divisions of Russia's Rosneft (ROSN.MM) - Rosneft Deutschland GmbH and RN Refining & Marketing GmbH under so-called trusteeship. As part of the arrangement, Germany has taken control of Rosneft's stakes in three refineries: a 54.17% stake in PCK Schwedt, a 24% stake in MiRO and a 28.57% stake in Bayernoil. Legally, Rosneft remains the owner but has no way to exercise control over these assets as long as the trusteeship remains in place. Germany's lower house of parliament on April 20 approved changes to the Energy Security Act that would allow a quick sale of Rosneft's stake in the Schwedt refinery without the need for prior nationalisation. Rosneft took legal action against trusteeship and is seeking compensation for the financial losses it suffered during the first six months of the order.The company says it is the third-largest refiner in Germany with a total capacity to refine up to 12.8 million tonnes per year accounting for more than a tenth of the country's capacity.

The Finnish utility has said it would "pursue a controlled exit" from Russia after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, but it also flagged expropriation risk in its annual report for 2022.Fortum's Russia division has seven thermal power plants in the Ural region and Western Siberia, and a portfolio of wind and solar plants in Russia together with local venture partners.The company, majority owned by the Finnish government, recorded total impairment charges of 1.7 billion euros related to its Russian operations for 2022. Fortum bought Russia's TGK-10, a heat and power producer in St. Petersburg area, in 2008 for about 2 billion euros.In 2018, Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak said Fortum had invested about 4.5 billion euros in Russia.

Russia placed energy producer Unipro, 83.73% owned by German Uniper (UN01.DE) under state administration, the German utility said on April 26.Uniper has deconsolidated Unipro as of end-2022 and classified it as discontinued business, citing the loss of control despite its majority stake.The company wrote down $4.4 billion as a result of deconsolidation and put Unipro's value at a symbolic 1 euro, reflecting the likely chance that it could sell the business.Uniper acquired Russian power company OGK-4, later renamed Unipro, for 4.2 billion euros in 2007, and invested more about 2.5 billion euros to build new generating capacity. In 2021, Unipro generated 230 million euros in adjusted operating profit. Uniper has also taken an impairment of $1 billion euros for its financial exposure to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Germany oil and gas firm Wintershall Dea, majority owned by German chemicals maker BASF (BASFn.DE), said Russia's takeover of Fortum and Uniper's assets has not affected it, but added that Moscow's policies were "unpredictable". Wintershall Dea has previously deconsolidated its Russian operations, which prior to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine accounted for over half of its petroleum output worldwide. Its assets in Russia include a 35% stake in the Yuzhno-Russkoye gas field, and it co-owns two Achimov natural gas production projects in Siberia.Wintershall Dea has also written down its 15% stake in the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline that had been damaged by mysterious explosions last September. BASF (BASFn.DE) took a 7.3 billion euro writedown for 2022 due to Wintershall Dea's (WINT.UL) decision to pull out of Russia.

Austrian energy group OMV (OMVV.VI) said in February it saw no way to sell its stake in the Russian Yuzhno-Russkoye gas field due to legal restrictions in Russia.OMV paid 1.75 billion euros for a stake in the Yuzhno- Russkoye field, one of Russia's largest, in 2017, at the time saying it could add 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day to its production. The company was also one of the five financial backers of Nord Stream 2. It fully impaired the outstanding investment of 1 billion euros.($1 = 0.9102 euros)

May 30, 2023 15:08


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