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Successful Kick-Off Meeting

Leading Regional Gas Transmission Companies Agree to Work Together to Explore Feasibility - An Important Kick-Off Meeting

Press release

Bucharest, March 14th, 2008

NETS (“New Europe Transmission System”), the initiative to create an independent, regionally integrated, gas pipeline network business for Central and South-East Europe by combining a number of the region’s leading gas transportation businesses, was discussed in a roundtable meeting in Bucharest. It was an important first step, a real kick-off of the project.

Chief Executives and other Senior Board Members of seven of the region’s gas transportation companies met over the last two days in Bucharest in order to discuss various strategic and business aspects of the initiative, and share thoughts on regulatory and political considerations.

The round table event was hosted by Transgaz of Romania. Also participating were: BH-Gas (Bosnia Herzegovina), GEOPLIN PLINOVODI (Slovenia), MOL Natural Gas Transmission (Hungary), OMV GAS (Austria), Plinacro (Croatia) and Srbijagaz (Serbia).

Following the fruitful meeting, the companies represented at the event agreed to start a feasibility study of creating NETS, by establishing joint working groups to explore the potential benefits of the NETS concept further and analyze its potential business advantages and how NETS can be realized.

The NETS concept was proposed by MOL, Hungarian Gas Transmission Company in December 2007. NETS shall have the scope to attract capital, accelerate infrastructure development and interconnectivity, enhance value, competition and the supply security of the region.

At the end of the meeting Transgaz’s CEO Ioan Rusu stated: “This has been a tremendously successful meeting and a move forward for NETS, this one-of-a-kind initiative in Europe. It demonstrates the high level of business cooperation our companies are capable of, as well as the commitment to competitiveness we are aiming to achieve in the context of an integrated European energy market”.

“It is a great honor for BH-Gas and me personally to attend today’s meeting. This event is of great importance for both BiH and BH-Gas, taking into account that the natural gas field in BiH is still developing compared to other companies in the region. The NETS initiative may lead to launching and implementing important development projects for us. Our plans focus on the development of gas infrastructure, in order to increase the capacity of existing transmission systems. At the same time we also concentrate on diversifying the transmission routes and supply sources as well as on constructing underground gas storage. By accomplishing such projects, BiH would increase the natural gas share in the energy mix from the present 7% to the forecasted level of 15% by the end of 2020” said Nadzida Ninkovic, Executive Manager BH-Gas, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s gas transmission company.

“This is a great step forward for NETS, as seven of the regions’ leading companies have today said that they support the concept in principle and are interested in working together to see how it can best be turned into reality”, commented Dr. János Zsuga, the CEO of FGSZ Ltd. he added.“

“Plinacro supports the initiative for cooperation, interconnection and joining of TSOs in the region with the aim to find the answer to question and challenges which are to come. We have discussed possible concepts and models of cooperation and interconnection. We think this is an extremely demanding and ambitious project and that today we have made the first step in the right direction.

We agree to establish working groups to deal with all aspects from their respective fields in a professional manner and give the exact data as well as the pros and cons, on the basis of which we may bring adequate decisions and propose solutions to our owners. Plinacro will participate in this project and will bring its contribution to it”, said Branko Radošević, President of Plinacro Board, the Croatian gas transmission company.

“The meeting in Bucharest confirmed that NETS concept, that aims establishing an independent regional natural gas transmission company is extremely attractive for all participants. It woud help increase the efficiency of existing capacities, bringing benefits that could make each of the markets more reliable in terms of security of supply and growth. Of course, we are at the beginning of a long and challanging harmonisation process of national gas transmission systems, but we believe that the NETS project is feasible. Srbijagas will actively take part in the future steps connected to the NETS project”, said Sása Ilić, General Manager of Srbjgas.

The meeting was honored by Mr.Olivier Silla from the European Commission Directorate for Energy and Transport, who stated: “The Commission supports this project, which provides increased co-operation between TSOs (Transmission System Operators) in a region which is a critical crossroad of many energy markets”. He added, “The Commission’s consideration and support for the project is based on two advantages inherent in the NETS concept: firstly, it is a concept that linking together EU members with not-, or future-EU members and secondly, that NETS can provide the necessary scale for infrastructure development which will enhance competition and security of supply at the same time”.

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