The partially state-owned gas pipeline operator Eustream, dubbed Slovakia’s “golden goose” for its high contributions to state coffers, may stop laying eggs. The war in Ukraine and sanctions imposed against Russia have significantly reduced the volume of natural gas being transported via its pipelines. On top of this, the Eduard Heger government has imposed a special levy on it as part of a package of taxes targeting companies that have profited from high energy prices.
The pipeline operator sees the tax as discriminatory as well as illogical.
“We are not profiting from the energy crisis in any way and we do not have extraordinary profits,” said Miroslav Bodnár, member of the Board of Directors of Eustream. “Our company is currently in a difficult period for the business. The volumes of transported gas continue to decline further.”
Eustream is the only company in Slovakia on which the new special tax was imposed. It does not apply to any other company operating linear constructions such as gas pipelines, heat distribution or water supply. For this reason, Eustream says it considers the tax discriminatory, as it targets a single company exclusively.
Eustream is owned 100 percent by SPP Infrastructure, which in turn is controlled by the state-owned SPP (51 percent) and EP Infrastructure (49 percent), which is part of Energetický a Průmyslový Holding, a conglomerate owned by Czech businessman Daniel Křetínský and his Slovak partner Patrik Tkáč.
The special tax
On December 22, 2022, Slovakia’s parliament adopted new legislation proposed by a group of OĽaNO deputies led by Milan Vetrák that introduced a special construction tax. Based on this, natural gas transit pipelines will be taxed at €6,000 per pipeline-kilometre per month. The only company operating such infrastructure in Slovakia is Eustream, whose pipeline network has an annual capacity of some 90 billion cubic metres of natural gas. The tax means that the company should pay an additional €171 million per year to the state budget in property taxes for operating its network.
Economy Minister Karel Hirman opposed adoption of the law. He did not consider it reasonable to impose an additional burden in the form of an extra tax on it.
“Unfortunately, [Eustream] is no longer the golden goose it was in the past,” he said.