“Trying to blackmail Russia”: Naftogaz may demand multi-billion dollar compensation from Gazprom
Naftogaz intends to demand $ 11-14 billion in compensation if Gazprom insists on concluding a new gas transit contract on the same terms. The Ukrainian company believes that in this case the pumping of blue fuel through the country will be suspended, and this will lead to economic losses. Trilateral negotiations on gas issues with the participation of representatives of Moscow, Kiev and Brussels should be held on September 19. According to experts, Ukraine intentionally complicates the situation before the meeting. Thus, Kiev seeks to obtain more favorable conditions for itself, analysts say.
The Ukrainian side intends to demand "compensation" from Russia in the amount of $ 11-14 billion if Gazprom insists on concluding a new transit agreement on the same terms and stops gas pumping. This was stated by the executive director of Naftogaz Yuri Vitrenko at a press conference in Kiev.
“If transit continues through Ukraine, then we will not review tariffs and then Gazprom will not have to compensate us for these $ 11-14 billion. But if they insist on their current position, which will lead to the absence of transit through Ukraine from January 1 2020, then we will force them to pay, to compensate for our losses, ”he said.
The indicated amounts Kiev requires from Moscow in the arbitration court. The reason for the trial, according to Vitrenko, was the current transit contract between Naftogaz and Gazprom, according to which Ukraine may require a review of the transit tariff. The court session is scheduled for 2021.
At the same time, in an interview with UNN agency, the head of Naftogaz noted that litigation with Gazprom cost the company millions of dollars annually. However, Vitrenko said that “it is much more profitable to pay lawyers and go to court instead of paying tens of billions of dollars to Gazprom.
He voiced such a thesis, speaking about the results of the last arbitration, which lasted about five years. In 2018, the Stockholm court awarded the Ukrainian side $ 4.7 billion in a lawsuit for gas shortages for transit. At the same time, the court recognized Naftogaz’s debt of $ 2 billion, therefore, ultimately obliged the Russian side to pay $ 2.56 billion. Gazprom disagrees with this decision and continues to dispute it.
However, Naftogaz’s claims to Gazprom were not limited to this. In January 2019, the Ukrainian side filed a new lawsuit with the Stockholm Arbitration Court, demanding payment of a “forfeit” of almost $ 12 billion for “depreciating the Ukrainian gas transportation system due to the construction of gas pipelines bypassing Ukraine - Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream.
- Laying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Swedish territorial waters
- © nord-stream2.com
Note that now the Russian and Ukrainian sides are preparing for a new round of negotiations on gas issues. They are conducted with the participation of the European Union - Brussels is represented by the Vice President of the European Commission Marosh Shefchovich. According to preliminary information, negotiations will take place on September 19.
“I am pleased to announce that on September 19 I will conduct the next round of trilateral gas talks. I am convinced that progress will give a strong positive signal to the market, as well as to consumers in anticipation of the winter season, ”Shefchovich wrote on Twitter.
Pleased to announce that I will host the next round of #TrateralGasTalks on September 19. I am convinced that progress would send a strong positive signal to market as well as consumers ahead of the winter season. pic.twitter.com/UIo83zGbT3- Maroš Šefčovič🇪🇺 (@MarosSefcovic) September 9, 2019
The head of the Ministry of Energy Alexander Novak, who represents Moscow at the negotiations, agreed with this date: “We will consider this date as agreed, we are ready to hold consultations.”
From the Ukrainian side, Vitrenko, Chairman of the Board of Naftogaz Andrey Kobolev, Director of the operator of the Ukrainian gas transmission system (Ukrtransgaz) Sergey Makogon and others are expected at the meeting.
It was with the upcoming negotiations that the latest statement from Vitrenko was linked by the head of the Ukrainian Analytical Center, economist Alexander Okhrimenko. The interlocutor of RT expressed the opinion that in this way the functionary is trying to provide more favorable conditions.
“Any negotiations, first of all, are always a search for a compromise and endless intrigues. In this situation, Vitrenko, let's say, is bluffing. He is trying to push Russia to make concessions ... Negotiations, of course, will be difficult, ”he said.
Okhrimenko also noted that both Vitrenko and Kobolev took their posts under the previous president Petro Poroshenko, and therefore adhere to anti-Russian views.
“Because Kobolev and Vitrenko are people from the Poroshenko team. And of course, they are in anti-Russian positions. For five years, they did everything to ruin and prevent the restoration of normal trade relations with Russia. So in Ukraine it is now very important to look at the personalities and their statements. Yes, Vitrenko is now trying to blackmail Russia. What will come of this is another question, ”the expert added.
Ukrainian political scientist and economist Alexander Dudchak also pointed out Kiev’s unpreparedness for rational negotiations on gas transit.
“Apparently, Ukraine continues to bend the line begun by Petro Poroshenko. This is completely not in the interests of Ukrainian consumers, and not in the interests of Europeans. Instead of sitting at the negotiating table and finding the best way out, Ukraine prefers a policy of blackmail and making demands that cannot be fulfilled, ”he said to RT.
It is worth noting that, in anticipation of negotiations, Russia also proposes to conclude a contract on direct gas supplies to Ukraine. Note that now Kiev is buying blue fuel from European suppliers, but in fact it is Russian gas supplied to the EU by Gazprom. According to the head of the company Alexey Miller, the transition to direct procurement will reduce the price for Ukrainian consumers by 25%.
“The issue of the transit agreement is extremely important, but still the primary question is whether Ukraine will buy Russian gas under a direct contract. Since the answer to this question is also the answer to the question of what gas transmission capacities on the Russian side Gazprom should guarantee to supply gas to Ukraine, ”he said during a meeting with Vladimir Putin.
At the same time, due to the uncertainty regarding the issue of gas transit, all interested parties pump gas into underground storage facilities before the start of the heating season. In this way, Gazprom will set a historical record for blue fuel reserves in European underground storage facilities.
“By the end of the year, Gazprom will pump at least 11.4 billion cubic meters of gas into underground storage facilities in Europe. This is more than twice the level of last year. We see that our European partners are pumping at a very fast pace, and our Ukrainian colleagues are trying to do the same, ”Miller said.
Under Poroshenko, Kiev categorically rejected the idea of buying gas from Russia for political reasons, Okhrimenko recalled. The expert did not rule out that the new administration will reach a compromise on this issue with another Minister of Energy.
“Now, we have a new Minister of Energy and Coal Industry (Alexei Orzhel. - RT ), and he is milder in this matter. In any case, from him I have never heard statements about “aggressive Russian gas”. Maybe he really will be able to change Poroshenko’s people and find a compromise on the purchase of gas in Russia, ”said Okhrimenko.
However, for this, Kiev will have to officially recognize that it has relations with Moscow, Dudchak emphasized. Recall that Russia was legally designated in Ukraine as an aggressor country.
“Indeed, Russia agrees to provide a significant discount on gas so that Ukraine receives it directly. But in this case, Ukraine will have to admit that it is starting normal business with Russia. For some reason, the new government is not interested in such a position, ”the expert added.