Chemical giants quarrel about supplies

The end of last week saw a battle of two chemical giants - the oil refinery Ceska Rafinerska and the largest Czech chemical company Chemopetrol over prices of supplies. On Friday night, Ceska Rafinerska cut off supplies to Chemopetrol as they were unable to agree on prices of oil and other raw materials.

Both companies are indirectly controlled by the state through the company Unipetrol and they were able to settle their price dispute only after an intervention by the Minister of Industry and Trade on Sunday. Chemopetrol estimates losses due to the drop out in production in the rank of tens of millions of crowns.

Unipetrol said it was considering removing Ceska rafinerska CEO Ivan Ottis after the incident. The daily MLADA FRONTA DNES quoted an unnamed source as saying that Unipetrol is angry with Ottis because he was appointed to Ceska rafinerska's board on behalf of Unipetrol, but in fact acted against it. Unipetrol put the removal of Ottis from his posts on the agenda of the company's general meeting, which is to be held next Thursday.

Meanwhile, Chemopetrol has submitted a complaint to the anti-monopoly office against Ceska rafinerska, claiming it misused its monopoly position by suspending the supplies. Chemopetrol has no other option but to buy raw materials from Ceska Rafinerska. However, the two companies have not signed any long-term contract on supplies since 2001 and price terms have been decided on a monthly basis.