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Gazprom Is Unlikely to Yield on Ukraine

Published: November 14, 2012 (Issue # 1735)



  • Several EU nations have procured discounts but Ukraine lacks political leverage.
    Photo: MAXIM STULOV / VEDOMOSTI

MOSCOW Gazprom may have agreed tocut prices formany ofits European customers, but thechances ofits biggest foreign market, Ukraine, getting adiscount appear slim, according toan analyst report.

Perhaps Gazprom cannot afford yet another price cut when its revenues andnet profits are under such strain, Andrew Neff, aRussia analyst forIHS Energy, said last week.

Inthe latest concession, Gazprom agreed last week toshave 10 percent off theprice that it charges Polish gas importer, PGNiG. Germany andItaly had won similar discounts inpast months onthe backdrop ofincreased scrutiny bythe European Commission ofGazproms business inEurope.

Not amember ofthe EU, Ukraine doesnt enjoy thepolitical backing ofthe bloc, andit doesnt have analternative source forits huge gas imports, Neff said inthe research note.

Ukraines current political leaders bear part ofthe blame forthe price impasse with Russia, thenote said.

Ukrainian policymakers also can point thefinger squarely inthe mirror fortheir current predicament, Neff wrote.

After President Viktor Yanukovich came topower inUkraine, thecountry made amajor strategic error when it didnt tear up thecurrent contract with Gazprom containing what Neff called aninflated base price, thenote said. Instead, Yanukovich secured adiscount forUkraines national energy company Naftogaz inexchange forextending theRussian lease ofthe Sevastopol naval base.

Not only has Russia argued since that time that Gazprom already has granted Naftogaz aprice discount but that accord set expectations onthe Russian side that any concessions byGazprom would be matched byconcessions byNaftogaz and/or theUkrainian government as well, Neff wrote.

Thus, Russia has dangled thepossibility oflower gas prices forUkraine if it joins aRussia-led customs union anoffer that Ukraine has resisted so far.

Gazproms European customers have wrangled lower prices andretroactive discounts fromthe Russian export monopoly bythreatening or, inPGNiGs case, actually launching arbitration proceedings. But Ukraine didnt cross that line, Neff noted.

Ukrainian President Yanukovich avoids araucous legal standoff because his voter base is loyal toRussia, said Volodymyr Fesenko, director ofthe Penta political studies center inKiev. TheUkrainian government is also afraid oflosing that battle, he added.

Kiev damaged its odds ofgaining theupper hand inthe price dispute byalienating theEuropean Union political establishment, which criticized theprosecution andimprisonment ofUkraines former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko as politically motivated, Fesenko said.

Ukraine has chosen thepath ofincreasing its own production ofgas aneffort that will not bear fruit any time soon, he said. Even so, significant progress onthis could over time compel Gazprom toreconsider its adamant approach todealing with Ukraine, Fesenko said.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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