KIEV, August 14 (RIA Novosti) — The Ukrainian parliament on Thursday passed a law that allows the government to hand over up to 49 percent of the country’s gas transport system to investors from the European Union and the United States.
The law was passed by 228 ‘yes’ votes, slightly above the required minimum of 226.
The law gives foreign operators the right to “the management and/or concession or lease” of the gas pipelines and underground storage facilities. The law also allows Ukraine’s government to establish a company to operate underground storage facilities, in which American and European investors would be able to own up to 49 percent.
The lawmakers insisted on amending the bill, including a requirement for the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, to approve the shareholders of the country’s gas transport system operator.
According to Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a company registered in the European Union or in the United States would have to disclose information about its shareholder structure and beneficiaries at the first stage of the tender competition.
Then the company would have to get Ukraine’s consent to alter the shareholder structure and would be required to report on its activities every five years, including to the Verkhovna Rada.
Yatsenyuk noted, however, that so far, there are few interested in investing in the Ukrainian gas transport system and the law is just the first step in attracting investors from the United States and European Union. Yatsenyuk also believes that the law will hinder the construction of the South Stream pipeline.
The legislation was submitted for the parliament’s consideration at the beginning of July. The Ukrainian parliament on Thursday rejected it in the second reading, with only 94 lawmakers supporting the bill, less than half of the required 226.
Prime Minister Yatsenyuk has asserted several times that Kiev is ready to discuss the joint exploitation and modernization with investors from the European Union and United States.