Matiyeshyn on Europe, through a Ukrainian eye

It is clear that Russia is interested in inviolability of the gas contracts of 2009. And the longer the negotiating process with Ukraine is protracted, the greater profits “Gazprom” gets. Official representatives of the Ukrainian and Russian authorities constantly declare that the negotiating process is going on. However, Ukraine will hardly get the gas price discount in the near future. “Gazprom” insists on obtaining control over the Ukrainian gas-transport system in exchange for the gas price discount.

In January it became known that “Gazprom” has reduced prices for 5 EU companies. The discount was received, in particular, by such companies as Wingas, GdF Suez, SPP, Econgas and Sinergie Italiane. According to the Austrian periodical “Die Presse” the discount may make up from 45 to 50 dollars per thousand cubic metres of gas.

The above listed consumers buy together about 35 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia annually which makes up almost a quarter of all export of the Russian gas to the Western Europe. The specified volumes of gas are almost comparable to volumes which Ukraine received from Russia in 2011, – about 40 billion cubic metres of gas. This almost corresponds with the minimum volume (41 billion cubic metres of gas) which “Naftogaz of Ukraine” was supposed to buy in 2011, according to conditions of the contract of 2009. However, Ukrainian governmental officials have informed that they want to reduce volumes of the Russian gas purchases to 27 billion cubic metres this year. “Gazprom” however insists on 52 billion cubic metres.

In addition, there appeared information in mass-media, that on January 18 in Moscow “Gazprom’s” daughter company “Gazprom International” and NAK “Naftogaz of Ukraine” have activated cooperation with the aim of creation of a joint venture for the field development on the Black sea shelf.

That is, despite the delay in negotiations concerning the reduction of gas price, a normal working process continues between gas monopolists of Russia and Ukraine. Arrangements are reached, plans are made, new companies are involved. Then, what is covered by the delay in the negotiating process? What arrangements are reached and actually take place now between the leadership of Russia and Ukraine?

It is necessary to understand that the existing groups of influence around the president of Ukraine are far from being united. And, first of all, this has to do with economic interests. Representatives of gas and oil traders, and also the owners of municipal services are interested in keeping the gas contracts of 2009. Since, high gas prices allow them to jack up tariffs for the population and industry. And this is the growth of their profits. And business which controls the metallurgical and chemical industry is on the contrary interested in low gas prices.

Recently Minister of Energy Y.Boyko has informed that Ukraine can extract 70 billion cubic metres of shale gas a year and is going to involve American experts. This statement is at least amazing. Despite the necessity of the mentioned investments amounting to 10 billion dollars a year, the government of Ukraine ignores the warnings of international experts concerning ecological consequences of such projects. Thus, governments of France and Bulgaria have already forbidden the development of the shale gas.

As a whole, the current leadership of Ukraine in every possible way avoids the question of existing and potential environmental problems and threats in the country. And last statements of the government about the plans to transfer all thermal power stations from gas to coal confirm it.

In such a way the government plans to save up to 6 billion cubic metres of Russian gas a year. The initiative is supposed to be not bad and even noble. Ukraine is reducing its gas dependence upon Russia. However, this project is too expensive and threatens with ecological problems.

It is possible to understand the logic of the officials-initiators if we take into consideration those who control coal mining in Ukraine and in which regions it is concentrated. The government prefers not to think of the catastrophic ecological situation in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The development of means for thermal power stations re-equipment is in the first place. And the practice of “modernization in Ukrainian” testifies: money is invested only after receiving guarantees on the privatization of objects. Accordingly, the statement of the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine looks completely logical: “as soon as the law is adopted, we will direct thermal power stations to concession or for privatization”.

The current authorities are blindly convinced that all their initiatives will be accepted by the Ukrainian people. However, the population of Ukraine has no immunity to the consequences of ecological disasters and the authorities will not be able to create it. Nobody has forgotten the Chernobyl yet…

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