Energy 9 March, 2018 10:00 am   

Gazprom puts a brave face in Ukraine

The Russians are working to undermine the credibility of Ukraine as a reliable gas partner despite the failure of the Stockholm arbitration tribunal. This time, they reach for mathematics to use it for manipulation. Once again, Russian calculators count differently than European ones – writes Piotr Stępiński, editor of

Yesterday, the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine officially announced the end of measures to minimize the effects of the gas crisis lasting for several days. This was the result of Gazprom’s decision, which, despite the arbitration decisions and the prepayments made by Naftogaz, refused to resume gas supplies to Ukraine on the beginning of March, arguing that there is no annex to the current agreement. As a consequence of the unlawful actions of the Russian monopoly, a deficit of fuel was observed on the Dnieper. The authorities in Kiev have been forced to implement measures to temporarily limit the use of raw materials. Naftogaz itself appealed to the Ukrainians to reduce their temperature in households heated by gas furnaces in order to reduce their fuel consumption. In addition, Ukraine was forced to start purchasing raw material in emergency mode, including from PGNiG.

Russian mathematics has its own rules

The activities of our eastern neighbors were noticed by the Russians, not only those from Gazprom. Yesterday on the portal an article entitled “Poroshenko Mathematics: At the same time freeze Ukrainians and pay for gas” appeared, in which the author referred to the entry in one of the social profiles spokesmen of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova. She referred in it to information that Kiev is buying gas in Europe four times more than the fuel offered by Gazprom. In her opinion, it was just too high prices that were the main reason for President Petro Poroshenko to call Ukrainian citizens to tighten the gas belt and reduce the consumption of raw materials. It is worth noting, however, that the Russian principles of mathematics depend on the rules of the Kremlin’s foreign policy, as evidenced by Zakharova’s words.

Indeed, the commercial director of Naftogaz Yuri Vitrenko through social media reported that sometimes gas prices on stock exchanges jumped even to 1325 dollars for 1000 cubic meters, and according to President Petro Poroshenko in March, Ukraine would buy raw material under an agreement with Russians 238,55 dollars for 1000 cubic meters. What’s more, Naftogaz has announced that it will demand to cover the difference between the price resulting from the contract with Gazprom and the prices of the raw material, which is purchased under the emergency mode. In addition, Naftogaz will try to prove that the transit rate of the raw material through Ukraine was understated, which resulted in the receipt of about USD 20 billion less than it should have since 2009.

A spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also forgot to mention that the increase in prices on European exchanges was the effect of increased gas demand in Europe, caused by temperatures lower than usual at this time of the year. Besides, the monopolist itself announced in the media that it recorded record gas supplies to Europe for more than 10 days in a row. As in the previous case, so now, it was not the effect of special interest in Russian gas.

Zakharova’s manipulation

According to Zakharova, “through political tastes, Ukraine led the nation to the abyss, joyfully distributing tea and cakes, and cursing Russia.” Referring to the recent gas crisis, Zakharova stated that the authorities in Kiev ,,will never tell their citizens that Europe considers Russia as a reliable supplier of energy resources, and the Russian LNG has been delivered to affected areas in the USA. They will not say it, because then the Ukrainians would wake up and put on fire. Everyone in turn. ” The spokeswoman did not mention that the diversification of gas supplies to Ukraine is aimed at reducing the political dependence on Russia. She also forgot that the deliveries of the Russian LNG to the USA were individual in nature and were associated with extremely low air temperatures outside the Ocean, which was more widely discussed in by the editor-in-chief Wojciech Jakóbik.

Maria Zakharova is right that the Ukrainian authorities will not pass on such a message to their people, because it can be challenged. First, the Kiev authorities are taking measures to diversify the sources of gas supplies to Ukraine. They want, among others expand the connection with Poland to be able to use the raw material supplied by Baltic Pipe and the LNG terminal in Świnoujście in the future. In addition, Ukrainians are trying to seek allies in Europe against the construction of Nord Stream 2, whose one of the objectives is to deprive Ukraine of the role of a transit state. Although earlier the spokeswoman of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs argued that the goal of building a bus is not to deprive anyone of the possibility of transit on competitive terms. Kiev hopes that the Scandinavian countries will not allow Russia to blackmail Europe with supplies of blue fuel. In turn, the representatives of the Finnish government, through which the controversial gas pipeline is to run through the economic zone, want the new bus to be fully compliant with EU law, which is perceived by the Russian side as a sabotage of the project.

Ukraine is trying to respond to the unpredictability of Gazprom’s policy, one of which is evidenced by the recent gas crisis, or those of 2006, 2009 and 2014. In addition, the company was already manipulating the pressure at the entry point to the Ukrainian gas transmission system. What’s more, there were situations in which the quality of fuel sent from Russia did not meet the chemical-physical parameters specified in the contract. Poland has also experienced unintelligible actions on the part of Gazprom’s management. In recent years, Gazprom has reduced the volume of gas supplies to PGNiG on several occasions, without announcing and giving reasons.

Russia is looking for a way to reverse the situation

An online entry by the spokespersons of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows how the recent arbitration court ruling in Stockholm has affected Russia, which is now looking for ways to hit Ukraine in a different way, pursue its policy of discrediting the country and undermine its role as a transit state for the supply of Russian gas to Europe. Recent events have not weakened the European Commission’s belief in the stability of supply through the Ukrainian corridor. In an interview with journalists, EC’s spokeswoman Anna Kaisa Itkonen announced that, according to Brussels data, gas transit is being carried out in the prescribed standards, despite the fact that Gazprom has initiated the termination of contracts signed with Ukraine for the supply and transit of gas. Earlier, the European Commission declared that it was ready to mediate on the resolution of the dispute.

The Russians handle defeats badly, therefore they do not lay down their arms and have appealed against the settlement of Stockholm arbitration. It is worth noting that the international rating agency S&P stated that the lack of a certain transit agreement with Ukraine carries a fundamental risk for Gazprom’s gas exports and the market position. The latter company will probably not want to let it. It seems that the Russians will also want to take advantage of the current tense political and social situation in Ukraine, to be able to further influence the destabilization of the country by pursuing its policy goals.