Is energy independence of Ukraine possible?
The Ukrainian government again and again sends its "messengers" to Moscow, hoping that they will be able to solve a very simple, but for some reason still unsolved task - to persuade the Russian government to reduce at least a little the price of natural gas, which is an important component Ukrainian economy.
Repeatedly among these "messengers" was Yuri Boyko. This time he has already arrived in the new status - the vice-premier, and not the minister of energy. However, it seems that one should not particularly hope for a speedy resolution of the gas dispute, since the career growth of this policy will in no way be able to influence the solution of an elementary problem that has been discussed many times and which solutions are well known to both parties.
The Ukrainian government is persistently not losing hope that Russia will eventually give way, even though the Russian leadership is increasingly more radical in this matter. Ukraine does not leave attempts to achieve a reduction in gas prices to the level of those for which supplies are made to Belarus. However, Moscow, of course, will never agree to this. And it is clear: why should she take such steps? Russia and Belarus are members of the Customs Union, they are building the Unified Economic Union, while Ukraine cannot decide which vector of foreign policy development to choose: whether to join the European Union, in which, frankly, no one expects it, or to join the Customs Union, but on their own terms. But nobody managed to sit on two chairs, and the Ukrainian political elite can hardly do that.
At the same time, Kiev does not stop thinking about how to still reduce the price of blue fuel, but at the same time do without membership in the Customs Union. One of the possible solutions to this problem is the participation of Moscow in the management of the Ukrainian gas transportation system. But this option is also hardly possible, because Russia, convinced of the unreliability of Ukraine as a gas transporter, launched the Nord Stream bypassing the country and has already begun construction of the Yuzhniy.
Back in December last year, during a press conference, the Russian head of state hinted that the Ukrainian gas transportation system is not very interested in Moscow. Despite this, the Ukrainian government is still confident that these are just words, and Russia will never be able to refuse it. However, officially the Russian leadership did not declare that the Ukrainian GTS was no longer relevant. Therefore, the words of the Russian president can be understood in the vein, for objective reasons, interest in it has decreased, and it can no longer be viewed as a weighty argument in the negotiations.
According to Valeriy Borovik, the head of the alliance “New Energy of Ukraine”, the issue of transferring to the Russian “Gazprom” some shares of the Ukrainian transit system has been practically resolved. Each party is expected to receive a percentage of the shares at 50. Thus, after evaluating half of the gas transmission system, a discount on natural gas will be formed. However, according to experts, the issue of the transit system is unlikely to be resolved soon.
According to political analyst, director of the National Energy Security Fund Konstantin Simonov, to say that the negotiations on the prospects for Ukrainian-Russian cooperation on the gas issue cannot be considered exhausted. The fact is that the construction of the "South Stream" has just begun. The construction process will last several years, and throughout this time Ukraine will serve as a transit country, letting, according to the needs of the European Union, about 80-100 billion cubic meters of gas. Moreover, none of the parties has yet reached its goals: Kiev wants to buy cheap gas, Moscow is ready to provide it, but in exchange for certain actions. And just so no one will cut prices, especially since there is a contract on the principles of pricing, which will be valid until 2019 year.
K. Simonov also expressed his opinion on the issue of Russia's need for the Ukrainian GTS. So, according to him, the Ukrainian transit system would not be necessary for Russia if the South Stream project were implemented in full, which is 4 lines with a total capacity of 63 billion cubic meters of gas.
As for the Ukrainian-Russian gas negotiations, Simonov is sure that the Ukrainian government has done everything possible for Russia to start building a new stream, leaving Kiev with few opportunities for further cooperation. Undoubtedly, the negotiations will continue in the future, but their conditions are becoming more and more elusive, since the construction of the South Stream has already begun.
The entire Ukrainian government spent the whole of last year blackmailing Moscow in every possible and accessible way, trying to achieve its own way: production on the shelf and construction of a gas processing terminal near Odessa. What ended all these stories - known to all: the Ukrainian authorities have signed a billion-dollar contract with a representative of a Spanish company for the supply of liquefied gas, which turned into a huge scandal. As a result, Ukraine became a laughing stock in the international arena, disgracing in full.
Thus, at the moment the situation is as follows: the construction of the South Stream has begun, and the Ukrainian government has less and less room for maneuvers. Even if we assume that the two sides will come to some kind of agreement, the new Russian flows will still have to be loaded. That is, Ukraine in this matter has already lost a lot, and it can be said with confidence that in the past there were those times when the Ukrainian territory pumped up to 120 billions of cubic meters of gas.
However, the “Northern” and “Southern” flows are far from everything that Russia threatens Ukraine with. Thus, at the end of November 2012, information appeared that Gazprom plans to increase the transit of natural gas through Belarus to Europe by 2013 percent in 30. To this end, the Russian monopolist intends to invest about 2 billion dollars in the modernization of the “Belarusian” pipe and the construction of additional gas storage facilities. It is assumed that work will begin later this year.
Thus, if we take into account all these factors, it is already completely clear that in the future Ukraine will completely lose its status as a gas transit country. The Ukrainian gas transportation system can thus become, roughly speaking, a pile of scrap metal. At the same time, the state will lose the annual rent for pumping blue fuel, which amounts to three billion dollars. And for a country whose economy is not in the best condition, this is very good money ...
In such a situation, they are puzzled by the statement made by the Ukrainian head of state, V. Yanukovych, which he made on January 19 during a press conference in Davos. The president said that the Ukrainian government in the near future hopes to reach an agreement with the Russian side on the gas issue. At the same time, he added that the states are doomed to compromise. The negotiations have been going on for several years now, and the country's leadership understands that it is necessary to find a solution that will satisfy both parties.
In addition, Yanukovych said that Ukraine has reduced the consumption of Russian gas. Moreover, he noted that this policy will continue in the future, even though the gas problem in Ukraine has acquired signs of a threat to national security. According to Yanukovych, Ukraine has adopted a tough program to diversify energy supplies, replacing natural gas with other energy sources, which is being successfully implemented. At the same time, the head of state noted that there is nowhere else to raise prices for the purchase of gas, because this will immediately affect the material condition of socially unprotected segments of the population.
At the same time, according to the statement of S. Kupriyanov, who is the official representative of Gazprom, lately the selection of Russian gas by Ukraine, on the contrary, increased, reaching 115 million cubic meters per day.
The statements of the Ukrainian Prime Minister N. Azarov that the gas dispute between the states may well be resolved through the courts seem to be not entirely logical (such an option is possible if the parties cannot agree). But the Ukrainian government is well aware that the court is unprofitable in the first place for Ukraine, because the proceedings will last at least a year. Throughout this time, the country will have to buy gas at a high price. In addition, there is no certainty that the dispute will be resolved in favor of Ukraine. Then Kiev will not have any arguments in further negotiations.
K.Gryshchenko, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, said that Ukraine opposed the construction of South Stream by Russia. Maybe it was necessary to think earlier, and instead of considering its GTS as the main trump card in negotiations with Russia, the Ukrainian leadership should not annoy the Russian leadership once again with harsh and not always deliberate statements?
- Valery Boval