New intermediaries for Ukraine
Russia-Ukraine gas war is over. Vladimir Putin and Victor Yushchenko reached gas debt deal during the meeting in the Kremlin. It was announced on February 12 at 6:00 P.M. Moscow time; exactly in this time Gazprom had threatened to cut gas supplies to Ukraine.
But the main result of the negotiations is a new scheme of gas importation to Ukraine. The present shadowy intermediaries RosUkrenErgo and UkrGazEnergo will be eliminated; and instead of them Gazprom and Naftogas of Ukraine will create two new companies on parity basis. According to the Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, one firm will supply the gas and another one will be responsible for gas sales in the domestic market of Ukraine.
A following structure of work with intermediaries has been functioning since February 4, 2006. Gazprom buys gas from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, resells it with extra charge to RosUkrEnrgo (which belongs to Gazprom and to a Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash, who is said to be a friend and a figurehead of Semion Mogilevich). Then at the Russia’s border RosUkrEnrgo resells the gas (even more expencive) to UkrGazEnergo, which is a subsidiary of RosUkrEnergo and Naftogas. Only then UkrGazEnergo supplies the gas to Naftogas of Ukraine and industrial enterprises.
It's a long time since Yulia Timoshenko talked about non-transparency of such scheme. Who really draws profit from the extra charges? The Ukrainian premier minister demanded to cease the activity of RosUkrEnergo and UkrGazEnergo and to go over to direct contacts with Gazprom.
Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom and future Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev also talked about possible removal of RosUkrEnergo and transition to direct supplies. According to him, it will simplify the relations. These relations were really a source of different disagreeable cases. For example, one stated that structures belonging to Firtash through some Cyprian companies had purchased large holdings of stocks in 13 Ukrainian regional gas supply enterprises.
The decision about removal of RosUkrEnergo means that Dmitry Firtash will be excluded from the structure of gas supply; only Gazprom and Naftogas will remain. It should be noticed, that this decision followed soon after the arrest of Simeon Mogilevich, who is said to be a creator and real owner of RosUkrEnergo.
However, because of juridical difficulties RosUkrEnergo remains on a gas market for a while. Naftogaz CEO Oleg Dubina announced about it on Tuesday evening. ‘There is a decision to make with RosUkrEnergo a contract on gas supply at the price of $179,5 [per thousand cubic meters] since January 1, 2008, so long as today there is a problem concerning closing of gas supplies volume both in Russian and Ukraine. Now I can not say exactly, for what period. We’ll discuss this position both with Gazprom and the government’, he said.
As for debts, Naftogaz of Ukraine undertook to settle the matter within February. On Tuesday, February 14, Ukraine will begin to repay a debt owed to Gazprom. Debts of Naftogaz for supplies in November-December will be paid to UkrGazEnergo, and that for January-February to RosUkrEnergo.
The point of claims, which Gazprom filed in the end of the past week to Naftogaz was that since the beginning of 2008 there was a shortage of cheep Central Asiatic gas because of abnormal cold weather in Turkmenistan; so RosUkrEnergo had to buy more expensive gas from Gazprom. Thus, if gas from the Central Asia costs $179,5, when it reaches Ukraine, that from Gazprom costs already $314,7. According to Gazprom, debts of Ukraine for supplies in 2008 (that is 1,5 bln of cubic meters) total $500 mln; and overall overdue debs of Ukraine amounts to $1,5 bln.
New agreements seem to be favorable for Ukraine. As Yushchenko reported, base price of Russian gas for Ukraine will be $179,5 till the end of the year. That means that Naftogaz will pay for increase of portion of expensive Russian gas in supplies.