revista presei 25 martie

2010/03/25

Hotnews: Comisarul european pentru Energie: Nabucco este mai mult o viziune mareata de viitor decat o prioritate a CE

Proiectul Nabucco este mai mult o “viziune mareata pentru viitor” decat o prioritate a Comisiei Europene, pentru ca ar reduce dependenta energetica a Uniunii Europene fata de Rusia incepand din 2018, declara comisarul european pentru Energie, Gunther Oettinger, citat de Le Figaro.
“Nabucco urmeaza sa primeasca unda verde inainte de finalul anului 2010, insa nu va rezolva problema energetica a Europei pentru mai multi ani. Este o viziune mareata. Dar este si o provocare majora cand trebuie sa se puna de acord toti cei 15-20 de parteneri ai proiectului”, a spus Oettinger pentru Le Figaro.

“Raman de depasit multe probleme, dar sansele de succes sunt, in prezent, de peste 60%”, considera Oettinger.

Nabucco este sprijinit de un consortiu format de OMV din Austria, Bulgargaz din Bulgaria, Botas din Turcia, RWE din Germania, MOL din Ungaria si Transgaz din Romania.

Pentru moment, Comisia se concentreaza asupra altor proiecte din domeniul gazelor naturale, toate implicand Rusia. Prioritatea este gazoductul Nord Stream, care urmeaza sa fie finalizat in doi ani, a spus oficialul. A doua prioritate ar fi reabilitarea conductei centrale, care leaga Rusia de Austria, tranzitand Ucraina. Aceasta ar trebui finalizata pana in 2013.

Printre proiectele importante se numara si gazoducutul South Stream, rivalul Nabucco, caruia “Europa nu are de ce sa i se opuna”, a adaugat el.

Nord Stream si South Stream sunt proiecte dezvoltate de gigantul rus Gazprom, in colaborare cu mari grupuri energetice europene, ca EDF, GDF-Suez si E. ON, toate din Germania, respectiv ENI din Italia.

ziare.com: Nabucco nu mai este o prioritate pentru UE

Romania se pregateste pentru inchiderea centralei de la Cernavoda. Nuclearelectrica, singurul producator de energie nucleara din Romania, a lansat deja anuntul prin care solicita studiile necesare dezafectarii unitatilor 1 si 2 ale centralei de la Cernavoda.

Nuclearelectrica estimeaza ca va plati 750.000 de euro, fara TVA, pentru “Servicii pentru elaborare a planului de dezafectare pentru Unitatile 1 si 2 ale CNE Cernavoda”, scrie Money.ro.

Studiile trebuie sa fie gata in doi ani de la momentul semnarii contractului. Castigatorul va fi stabilit in urma unei licitatii. In stabilirea celei mai bune oferte, va conta in proportie de 90% pretul si de 10% termenul de executie. Ofertele vor fi deschise pe data de 6 mai.

Centrala nucleara de la Cernavoda are momentan doua reactoare cu o putere de 700 MW fiecare. Centrala este destul de “tanara”: prima unitate a fost pusa in functiune in 1996, iar cea de-a doua in 2007.

Lucian Biro, director general in cadrul Comisiei Nationale de Control al Activitatilor Nucleare (CNCAN) spune ca nu este deloc prea devreme sa vorbim despre inchiderea celor doua reactoare.

“Durata de viata este de 30 de ani, iar planul de dezafectare trebuie sa apara de acum, chiar daca durata de viata s-ar mai putea extinde, pentru ca trebuie acumulate resursele financiare necesare” a declarat Biro.

Costurile dezafectarii sunt imense. “Cel putin la fel de mult ca investitia, care a fost de aproximativ doua miliarde de dolari pe unitate. Operatorul unitatilor este cel care trebuie sa plateasca aceste sume, adica Nuclearelectrica” a mai spus Biro.

Legislatia prevede ca, din pretul fiecarui MWh produs de centrala nucleara de la Cernavoda, o suma de 2 euro sa fie pastrata pentru cheltuielile cu dezafectarea.

money.ro: Nabucco este mai mult o “viziune măreaţă de viitor” decât o prioritate a CE

Nabucco este mai mult o “viziune măreaţă pentru viitor” decât o prioritate a Comisiei Europene (CE), întrucât gazoductul ar reduce dependenţa energetică a Uniunii Europene (UE) faţă de Rusia începând din 2018, a declarat comisarul european pentru Energie, Günther Oettinger, potrivit Le Figaro, citat deMediafax.

Nabucco urmează să primească ultimele avize înainte de finalul anului 2010, însă nu va rezolva problema energetică a Europei pentru mai mulţi ani. Este o viziune măreaţă. Dar este şi o provocare majoră când trebuie să se pună de acord toţi cei 15-20 de parteneri ai proiectului”, a spus Oettinger într-un interviu pentru patru mari cotidiene din Europa.

Comisarul contează pe o conferinţă internaţională, care s-ar putea desfăşura în iulie, pentru înlăturarea ultimelor obstacole. La conferinţă vor participa ţările furnizoare degaze naturale, statele de tranzit, băncile şi companiile implicate în proiect.

“Rămân de depăşit multe probleme, dar şansele de succes sunt, acum, de peste 60%”, consideră Oettinger. Gazoducul ar urma să transporte gaze din regiunea Mării Caspice către Europa. Comisarul a inclus şi Irakul ca posibil furnizor, însă este precaut în privinţa menţionării Iranului, potrivit Le Figaro.

CE a aprobat o finanţare de 200 de milioane de euro pentru Nabucco.

Pentru moment, Comisia se concentrează asupra altor proiecte din domeniul gazelor naturale, toate implicând Rusia. Prioritatea este gazoductul Nord Stream, care urmează să fie finalizat în doi ani, a spus oficialul. A doua prioritate ar fi reabilitarea conductei centrale, care leagă Rusia de Austria, tranzitând Ucraina.

Printre proiectele importante se numărăr şi gazoducutul South Stream, rivalulNabucco, căruia “Europa nu are de ce să i se opună”, a adăugat el.

Nord Stream şi South Stream sunt proiecte dezvoltate de gigantul rus Gazprom, în colaborare cu mari grupuri energetice europene, ca EDF, GDF-Suez şi E. ON, toate din Germania, respectiv ENI din Italia.

Proiectul Nabucco, evaluat la 7,9 miliarde de euro, prevede construirea unuigazoduct, cu o capacitate anuală de 31 de miliarde de metri cubi, care să faciliteze importul direct de gaze naturale din regiunea Caspică şi Asia Centrală, pe ruta Turcia – Bulgaria – România – Ungaria – Austria. România participă la proiect prin intermediul Transgaz, alături de grupul austriac OMV, acţionarul majoritar alPetrom, dar şi de MOL Ungaria, Bulgargaz Bulgaria, BOTAS Turcia şi RWE Germania.

cotidianul.ro: Nabucco nu mai este o prioritate pentru UE

Comisarul pentru Energie, germanul Gunther Oettinger, declară că Nabucco este doar o mare viziune pentru viitor, în timp ce prioritatea UE este Nord Stream, construit de Gazprom şi de care va beneficia Germania.

„Nabucco trebuie să primească unda verde înainte de finalul lui 2010, (…) el nu va rezolva problema energetică a Europei. Este o mare viziune de viitor. Dar totodată este o provocare enormă, pentru că toţi cei 15 sau 20 de parteneri ai proiectului trebuie să se pună de acord. Rămân de depăşit numeroase probleme, dar şansele se situează astăzi la peste 60%”, a spus comisarul german, citat de “Le Figaro”. Oettinger a apreciat că Nabucco nu poate reduce depedenţa faţă de gazele ruseşti decât după 2018.

Pe termen scurt, Comisia Europeană se va concentra asupra unor proiecte energetice în care este implicată şi Rusia.

Prioritatea numărul unu este gazoductul Nord Stream, care traversează Marea Baltică şi al cărui principal beneficiar este Germania, ţara comisarului Oettinger. De altfel, fostul cancelar Gerhard Schroeder este preşedintele consiliului de administraţie al consorţiului care construieşte Nord Stream, din care face parte Gazprom

O altă prioritate este relansarea, până în 2013, a unui gazoduct din perioada sovietică ce leagă Rusia de Austria, via Ucraina, în contextul în care noua putere de la Kiev nu mai are relaţii conflictuale cu Moscova. Nu în ultimul rând, Comisia prioritizează şi rivalul proiectului Nabucco, South Stream, “căruia Europa nu are nici un motiv să i se opună”, după cum a spus Oettinger. Proiectele Nord Stream şi South Stream sunt iniţiate de Gazprom, germanii de la E.ON, italienii de la ENI şi francezii de la EDF şi Gaz de France.

Precizările comisarului german vin să reducă entuziasmul produs de acceptul Turciei ca gazoductul Nabucco să traverseze teritoriul naţional şi anunţul Bruxelles-ului că deblochează 200 de milioane de euro pentru acest proiect. Costul estimat al Nabucco este de 8 miliarde de euro, faţă de 25 de miliarde pentru South Stream, care are un lung traseu submarin.

La Figaro: Bruxelles précise ses positions sur les gazoducs

«Il n'y a aucune raison de s'opposer à South Stream», indique le commissaire européen à l'énergie, Günther Oettinger.
«Il n’y a aucune raison de s’opposer à South Stream», indique le commissaire européen à l’énergie, Günther Oettinger. Crédits photo : ASSOCIATED PRESS

Le gazoduc Nabucco pourrait réduire à partir de 2018 la dépendance énergétique de l’UE vis-à-vis de la Russie, mais c’est une «grande vision d’avenir» plutôt qu’une priorité immédiate pour la Commission européenne.

«Nabucco devrait recevoir un feu vert définitif avant la fin 2010, (…) il ne réglera pas le problème énergétique de l’Europe avant des années, a expliqué le commissaire à l’Énergie Günther Oettinger dans une interview auFigaro et à trois autres grands quotidiens européens. C’est une grande vision. Mais c’est aussi un défi énorme lorsqu’il faut mettre tous d’accord les quinze ou vingt partenaires du projet.»

Le gazoduc, qui s’approvisionnera à l’est de la Caspienne et contournera la Russie par le sud, a obtenu la bénédiction de la Turquie. Le commissaire compte sur une conférence internationale – peut-être en juillet à Ankara – afin de lever les derniers obstacles. Elle réunirait les pays fournisseurs, les pays de transit, les banques et les compagnies du tour de table : l’autrichien OMV, l’allemand RWE, le hongrois MOL, le roumain Transgaz, bulgare Bulgargaz et le turc Botas.

«De nombreux problèmes restent à surmonter mais les chances d’aboutir se situent aujourd’hui à plus de 60%», estime Günther Oettinger. Depuis les champs de la Caspienne en Azerbaïdjan et au Turkménistan, Nabucco doit acheminer le gaz vers la Turquie puis les Balkans et enfin l’Autriche sur une longueur de 3 300 km. Le commissaire mentionne l’Irak comme un possible fournisseur d’avenir, mais il se garde de mentionner l’Iran. Bruxelles a déjà débloqué 200 millions d’euros pour ce projet dont le devis initial est estimé à 8 milliards.

Le géant russe Gazprom

Dans l’immédiat, la Commission se concentre sur d’autres chantiers gaziers, tous dépendants de la Russie. La priorité n° 1 est le gazoduc baltique Nord Stream, qui devrait être achevé d’ici à deux ans, selon Günther Oettinger. La seconde est la remise en état du gazoduc central qui, depuis l’ère soviétique, relie la Russie à l’Autriche, via l’Ukraine. Ce devrait être chose faite en 2013. Vient ensuite South Stream, projet auquel «l’Europe n’a aucune raison de s’opposer», dit le commissaire allemand. Nord Stream et Southstream sont portés à bout de bras par le géant russe Gazprom. Ils réunissent aussi derrière eux les plus grandes enseignes européennes, comme EDF, GDF-Suez, l’allemand E.ON ou encore l’italien ENI.

RIA Novosti: Russian oil firm LUKoil expects to return to Iran project

Russia’s largest private crude producer LUKoil said on Wednesday it hoped to return to its Iran project under more favorable economic conditions.

“We have kept our rights to this project and are ready to return to it under a favorable economic situation,” Stanislav Kuzyayev, head of LUKoil Overseas in charge of company’s projects abroad, said while presenting the company’s U.S. GAAP financial statements for 2009.

LUKoil’s announcement followed the company’s statement earlier in the day that it had abandoned the Anaran oil project in Iran due to international sanctions.

In its consolidated US GAAP financial statements for 2009, posted on its website, LUKoil said its “income before one-off impairment losses (including impairment loss for the Anaran project in Iran, which was abandoned due to international sanctions) reached $7,352 million.”

Company vice president Leonid Fedun, earlier said further work on the oil field was impossible until U.S. sanctions were lifted.

The United States has imposed tough sanctions on international energy companies operating in Iran, including fines and other “disincentives.”

The Anaran field, with estimated oil reserves of 2 billion barrels, was operated by a consortium of Norwegian StatoilHydro (75%) and LUKoil Overseas (25%).

RIA Novosti: Kazakhstan plans to capture 40% of Japan’s uranium market

Kazakhstan is planning to boost its uranium exports to Japan and increase its share on the Japanese uranium market from the current 4% to 40%, the Kazakh foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Kanat Saudabayev said in an interview with Japan’s Nikkei news agency that the basic principles and areas of bilateral cooperation in civilian nuclear power engineering were defined in an intergovernmental agreement signed between the two countries in Tokyo on March 2, 2010.

“It [the agreement] allows for the expansion of the sphere of interaction. In particular, Kazakhstan is interested in obtaining nuclear power technologies from Japan,” he said.

A package of documents signed between Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan’s national operator for the import and export of uranium, and Japanese companies stipulated broader cooperation in the nuclear fuel cycle, he said.

“The implementation of these accords will make it possible in coming years to increase the share of Kazakh uranium products on the Japanese market from 3-4% to 40%, of which about 30% will be highly processed products,” he said.

RT.com: Ukraine gas talks renewed with new government

A delegation from Ukraine is in Moscow to start the process of renegotiating gas contracts between the two countries, with a new Kiev administration bringing a renewed sense of goodwill.

Ukraine’s Fuel and Energy Minister, Yury Boyko, is charged with trying to soften the obligations set out in the 10 year contract agreed in January 2009.

It wants to return to an idea first proposed in 2003, of Russia joining a gas consortium with Ukraine. But this would not allow foreign investors to actually own a share of the pipeline. Dmitry Aleksandrov, energy analyst at East Kommerts says control could be largely ceded for investment.

“Ukraine is proposing offering a 66% interest to foreign investors, which will be put on the negotiating table today. The share will determine how much money will be available to invest in the modernisation of Ukraine’s gas pipelines.”

But Russia is not eager to spend vast quantities of money on Ukraine’s gas distribution system as it has plans for alternative gas routes, Nord Stream and South Stream, which it is not prepared to give up.

Kiev is keenly aware of the prospect of new competing routes for gas transit. Konstantin Simonov, Head of the National Energy Security Fund says it is currently trying to negotiate terms for the next 8 years, after which the new pipelines are expected to be completed.

“Ukraine’s compression stations and reconstruction of underground storage facilities requires $2.5 billion according to Ukraine’s estimates. But Nord and South Stream will provide all the necessary capacity for Russia to be able keep its market share in Europe.”

Relations between Moscow and Kiev have improved, and there is a sense of new beginnings on both sides. But business is business, and all the parties will be trying to extract the best possible deal. So while the prospect of future gas wars has diminished, the stakes are still high.

trend.az: Nabucco doesn’t rule out joining of additional gas suppliers to project

Nabucco doesn’t rule out joining of additional gas suppliers to project

The consortium of Nabucco gas pipeline project, designed for gas transportation from the Caspian region and the Middle East to EU, does not rule out the joining additional gas suppliers to the project.

“We have never ruled out any gas sources”, Christian Dolezal, official representative in the Nabucco project, told Trend Capital via e-mail.
According to him, as more gas volumes are transported via the pipeline system as more competitive will be project in term of economy through unification. Dolezal said it will help reduce the costs for transporting gas via Nabucco pipeline in the future.

Head of the Italian company Eni Paolo Scaroni proposed to merge the South Stream project with the Nabucco project to reduce costs for these projects. Eni is an equal partner in South Stream with OAO Gazprom.

According Dolezal, however, today Nabucco project from commercial technical point of view is highly competitive project and does not need to change the concept.

“We are fully concentrated on the success of the project on the basis of a feasibility study, and there is no need to change its concept,” he said.

He said issues of future modifications of the general concept of the pipeline should be considered and resolved by the shareholders.

The project envisages the gas transportation from the Caspian region and the Middle East to EU. Nabucco gas pipeline project is worth €7.9 billion. Participants of the project are Austrian OMV, Hungarian MOL, Bulgarian Bulgargaz, Romanian Transgaz, Turkish Botas and German RWE companies. Each of participants has equal share to the amount of 16.67 percent. Construction of gas pipeline is planned to be launched in 2011, the first supplies – in 2014. Maximal capacity of the pipeline will hit 31 billion cubic meters per year.  Nabucco Gas Pipeline International shareholders will invest 30 percent of total cost of the project, the rest 70 percent will be paid owing to loans.
South Stream worth 25 billion euros provides for the delivery of Russian gas to South and Central Europe across the Black Sea. The project’s main participants are Russia’s Gazprom and Italy’s ENI. The pipeline is expected to launch in 2015. Its maximum capacity will be 63 billion cubic meters per year.

Novinite: Bulgaria Gas Fields Will Boost Melrose Resources

Bulgaria: Bulgaria Gas Fields Will Boost Melrose Resources
Melrose Resources predicts that the commissioning of Bulgaria’s off-shore Galata gas field will boost their production levels in 2010. Photo by energy-pedia.com

Melrose Resources, the international oil and gas exploration company, have predicted that two new Bulgarian gas fields will contribute to its record production levels.

The Bulgarian sources – Kaliakra and Kavarna, which together comprise the Galata Field – are due to go on-stream in 2010, along with other developments in neigboring countries.

“We now look forward to 2010 when we plan to bring two new Bulgarian gas fields on stream and to progress our other gas developments in the Western Black Sea towards project sanction,” Melrose Chairman Robert Adair stated.

The company, affected by a global drop in commodity prices, has reported a 78% decline in annual pre-tax profit, but claims 2010 will be a year of significant growth.

Profit before tax fell to USD 30,9 M for the year ended December 31, 2009, from USD 143,3 M in 2008, while turnover fell to USD 224 M from USD 373 M the previous year.

Despite this, the company has recommended payment of dividends at a rate 10% higher than for 2008. The management of Melrose Resources was also optimistic about the prospects for 2010.

“In what has been a difficult year for industry in light of the global economic downturn, Melrose has emerged in a strong position with a solid operating base, high value development and exploration projects to pursue and well supported debt facilities.”

In addition to the Bulgarian gas fields, Melrose is engaged in similar energy projects in Romania, Turkey, Egypt, and the entire western Black Sea area.

Eurasia Daily Monitor: Naftohaz Ukrainy Management Change Indicates Turn to Russia


Vladimir Socor

On March 22, the new Ukrainian government completed the formation of the senior management team at Naftohaz Ukrainy, the state oil and gas company (Interfax-Ukraine, UNIAN, March 22; Kommersant, March 23). This team is directly answerable to Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko and, equally but informally, to RosUkrEnergo gas trader Dmytro Firtash, an industrial tycoon in his own right, closely allied with Boyko.

Boyko’s appointment as minister was widely expected; and apprehensively so, outside the government’s orbit. He had served in both previous governments headed by the newly elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. In the new government, an informal division of spheres has placed Boyko in charge of the oil and gas sectors, allowing interest groups associated with First Deputy Prime Minister Andriy Klyuyev to control the electricity and nuclear sectors (Ukraiynska Pravda, March 13).

Boyko is regarded as “godfather” to the “supply schemes” with Gazprom’s offshoots, EuralTransGas and RosUkrEnergo, devised in 2002-2004. Boyko was first deputy minister of fuel and energy and chairman of Naftohaz Ukrainy in the first Yanukovych government at that time. He was also identified as a member of RosUkrEnergo’s coordinating council in 2004, while holding those official posts (Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, March 13).

Boyko returned to government as fuel and energy minister in the second Yanukovych government during 2006-2007, by which time RosUkrEnergo was operating under then-president Viktor Yushchenko’s dispensation.

Firtash headed the Ukrainian side of EuralTransGas in 2002-2004 and RosUkrEnergo from 2006 onward. Firtash and Boyko have a close and continuing personal relationship. However, Firtash also established a temporary alliance with Yushchenko, whose energy team actually implemented the RosUkrEnergo scheme that Boyko was instrumental in devising. Firtash owned 45 percent of RosUkrEnergo’s shares, with his Ukrainian partner Ivan Fursin owning 5 percent, and Gazprom 50 percent. Yulia Tymoshenko’s government ultimately removed RosUkrEnergo from the Russian-Ukrainian gas trade in early 2009, by agreement with Moscow.

At present, Firtash seeks compensation for 11 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas, which he claims was taken from RosUkrEnergo’s storage in Ukraine in 2009. Although removed from the inter-state gas trade, Firtash remains in control of a diversified industrial holding, Group DF (Dmytro Firtash). Furthermore, he is a major stakeholder in the Independent TV corporation, which includes Ukraine’s top-rated Inter TV channel. This has made Firtash a key player in Ukrainian elections, with influence he can leverage on the post-election government. Inter TV’s news coverage is supportive of the Party of Regions (EDM, March 18).

The new government has appointed Yevhen Bakulyn as chairman of Naftohaz Ukrainy. A protégé of Boyko throughout their careers, Bakulyn served as second in command to Boyko at the Lysychansk oil refinery, then as head of Ukraine’s gas extraction and processing company Ukrhazvydobuvannya (fully owned subsidiary of Naftohaz Ukrainy) in 2003-04 and 2006, and finally as the Chairman of Naftohaz in 2007, when Boyko was a minister in the second Yanukovych government (Interfax-Ukraine, March 15; Kommersant [Kyiv], March 16).

Returning to Naftohaz in the new Yanukovych government, Bakulyn and two of his aides have published an article calling for shared control of Ukraine’s gas transit system with Gazprom in an international consortium (“2000” weekly magazine [Kyiv] cited by Interfax-Ukraine, March 19).

Ukrtranshaz, the operator of Ukraine’s vast system of transit pipelines and storage sites, will be headed by Serhiy Vinokurov under the new government. Ukrtranshaz is a fully owned subsidiary of Naftohaz Ukrainy; but it will almost certainly be separated from Naftohaz, whether in the process of Western-recommended reform or by transfer to a Gazprom-dominated consortium. Vinokurov was chief adviser to Boyko when the latter headed Naftohaz. He was recently identified as a board member of Ostchem Holding, controlled by Firtash (Interfax-Ukraine, March 22).

Yuriy Borysov is the newly appointed head of Ukrhazvydobuvannya, the gas extraction and processing subsidiary fully owned by Naftohaz. Borysov has been identified as director-general of Firtash’s Ostchem Holding and as a board member of Firtash’s Group DF (UNIAN, March 22; Kommersant, March 23).

Reflecting Boyko’s and Firtash’s political clout in the Party of Regions, each has successfully pushed through the appointment of a protégé as regional governor. The new governor of the Kyiv region is Boyko’s confidant Anatoliy Prysyazhnyuk, who had earlier headed Chornomor Naftohaz (offshore oil and gas activities) under Boyko as minister. Dismissed by the Yulia Tymoshenko government in 2009, Prysyazhnyuk was appointed as the Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) by then-president Yushchenko. In the Chernivtsi region, Firtash has managed to have his local confidant, Mykhaylo Papiyev, appointed as governor. Firtash is not a native of Chernivtsi region, but made his business debut in that region, and retains a special relationship with it (Ukraiynska Pravda, March 19).

Global Witness, the London-based NGO specializing in anti-corruption investigations, has issued a statement of concern in response to such appointments. Familiar with Ukrainian energy issues since its 2006 investigative report on RosUkrEnergo, Global Witness warns against a reversal of reforms in the Ukrainian energy sector and calls on the Yanukovych government to show that Ukraine can be an open and reliable partner to the European Union (Financial Times, March 13).


New Team in Kyiv Sets Stage for Gas Consortium With Russia


Vladimir Socor

Ukraine’s new government, built around the Party of Regions, has re-empowered some key Ukrainian protagonists of gas “schemes” with Russia from past years (Naftohaz Ukrainy Management Change Indicates Turn to Russia, EDM, March 24).

Yulia Tymoshenko‘s government succeeded in ridding Ukraine of those schemes at the beginning of 2009. The Tymoshenko government started shifting the focus of Ukraine’s energy policy from Russia to the European Union. However, the advent of President Viktor Yanukovych, with a Donetsk industry-dominated government, has restored some of Gazprom’s pre-2009 (and indeed pre-2004) allies to power and influence in Kyiv.

Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko and the gas trader and industrialist Dmytro Firtash are leading figures in this group from the industry side, closely associated with Presidential Administration head Serhiy Liovochkin and the Chairman of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) Valery Khoroshkovsky (Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, March 13).

This group seems set to play a key role in shaping Ukrainian relations with Russia in the energy sector under the new authorities. Sharing the Ukrainian gas transit system with Gazprom through an international consortium, in return for discounted prices on Russian gas, is a centerpiece in this policy. Yanukovych and Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov’s government have announced this objective and appointed the new team to execute this policy at the Fuel and Energy Ministry and Naftohaz Ukrainy.

Liovochkin had previously served in the presidential administration under Leonid Kuchma in 2002-2004. At that time, Liovochkin helped arrange the RosUkrEnergo scheme with Boyko and Firtash (Kyiv Post, February 25, 2010). A top-rated bureaucrat, young and fluent in English, Liovochkin is expected to be tasked with preparing Yanukovych’s visits to the West, notably the president’s hoped-for trip in April to Washington.

SBU chairman Khoroshkovsky is regarded as an ally of Boyko, Firtash, and Liovochkin in a tightly-knit group (Ukraiynska Pravda, March 13, 19). Reputed to be among the wealthiest businessmen in Ukraine, Khoroshkovsky is Firtash’s partner in the Independent TV corporation and the top-rated Inter TV channel (“Ukraine’s first button”). Yanukovych elevated Khoroshkovsky to SBU chairman after Yushchenko had appointed him deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, then deputy chairman of the SBU. Khoroshkovsky and Firtash provided a connecting link in the informal alignment of Yushchenko and Yanukovych against the Yulia Tymoshenko government (Ukraiynska Pravda, March 12; Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, March 13).

Leading the opposition after her narrow loss in the presidential election, Tymoshenko has cautioned “all foreign partners” that transferring the Ukrainian gas transit system to a consortium in any form would contravene Ukrainian law, Kyiv’s interests, and European integration goals. Noting that such a consortium would mainly benefit oligarchic interests associated with Yanukovych’s team, Tymoshenko warns that “this government is not eternal,” and a subsequent government would cancel any such consortium (Interfax-Ukraine, March 22).

Ukrainian legislation indeed precludes any form of alienation of the gas transit system. The law goes into great detail to list all possible forms of alienation, including consortium, and bans them. Tymoshenko authored this law in 2007 as opposition leader during the second Yanukovych government. The Party of Regions went along with this legislation in the Verkhovna Rada at that time (EDM, February 7, 2007).

What has changed since that time is, first, the removal of corrupt “supply schemes” by the Tymoshenko government and its shift to commercial pricing in January 2009, by negotiation with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (who had earlier colluded with RosUkrEnergo). The Tymoshenko government had recognized that gas sector reform is a key to Ukrainian European integration goals. Second, the economic crisis means that Gazprom can no longer enrich favored traders in Russia and Ukraine through special pricing. And third, the cheap Turkmen gas that once enabled those schemes is no longer available.

What has remained constant, however, is the requirement of discounted Russian gas, to sustain inefficient Ukrainian steel and chemical industries for post-crisis recovery. With neither Gazprom nor Turkmenistan available to bear the costs, these are to be downloaded on Ukraine itself, by sharing out its gas transit system with Gazprom.

Yanukovych and the government portray such a consortium as tripartite, Ukraine-Russia-Europe. In reality, there is no designated European party to such a consortium. Suppositions in the past have centered on certain German and Italian companies that are allied with Gazprom. Nor can the Boyko-Firtash team and the Party of Regions be expected to promote Ukrainian and European integration interests ahead of group interests through such a consortium. The only certainty is that Gazprom would dominate the proposed consortium, notwithstanding any European presence in it for window dressing.

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