Intermediary Mysteries

gaz.jpgUkrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has long been advocating the elimination of RosUkrEnergo, calling it a ‘criminal enterprise’ and linking it to corruption in the gas industry as far back as 2005.  Now analysts are discussing the possibility that the Russia-Ukraine gas row may have been caused by a dispute about this intermediary company, joint owned by Russian and Ukrainian interests and domiciled in Switzerland, which buys Russian gas for onward transmission to Europe.  A former Chevron executive quoted in yesterday’s Bloomberg suggests that the row is not about pricing, but about ‘who gets a bigger piece of the pie in the re-export business to Europe, as well as who gets the more lucrative domestic market in Ukraine’.

A Gazprom spokesman suggested that current troubles may relate to the fact that certain ‘political forces’ in Ukraine want to keep RosUkrEnergo in place as an intermediary.  Naftogaz, on the other hand, insists that it isn’t interested in using an intermediary – but how much does this have to do with the two lawsuits filed by RosUkrEnergo against Naftogaz just last week for ‘failing to honor its commitments’, ordering it to pay debts of $614 million?

And the plot thickens.  This week, even Prime Minister Vladimir Putin suggested that Gazprom was ready to sign a direct contract with Naftogaz – ‘but they are not allowing us to do that’.  And, perhaps more astonishingly due to the current debate about Russia’s own levels of corruption, Putin added that the Ukrainian gas row ‘speaks of a high level of corruption in political structures which are today, in these conditions, fighting for gas prices and for the chance to preserve this or that intermediary to use dividends from them for personal enrichment and for future political campaigns.’  

As one transparency campaigner says:

‘The fact that RosUkrEnergo still remains – despite the opposition from Tymoshenko and Naftogaz’s Dubyna and after Putin and Tymoshenko agreed to do away with it — indicates that some people very much want the company to stay, and we are not quite sure why.’

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  1. Posted January 11, 2009 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    “Putin put Romania on the map of gas,” Proposal of Prime Minister Putin shock “and so on… “What he wanted to tell Putin?” – It was concern Romanian journalists more than 24 hours. Plus some hours in the cold waiting at Cotroceni Palace a view of President Basescu. What ( great! I hope to take more than three days … and I hope to be understood exactly what it had to understand) was obtained.I am convinced that all those who watched President and, now, Premier Putin during his press conferences and are familiar with his style, immediately understood that the way was only a trick of the image that will enhance the popularity. In fact, it is known that this gas crisis has brought a substantial gain for russian premier in the battle media. And an increase in popularity among the Russian population. And if there was a subtle signal, beyond irony (not subtle, and video images show clearly that) to the President of Romania, this signal target someone else. More, the context of this proposal, analised in the dynamic discourse elimine alleged “generosity” of Russians.

  2. Posted January 11, 2009 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    To my point of view, Russians are not interested in the RosUkrEnergo anymore, and it will be eliminated from the Russian gas re-export scheme this year. But the question is who will be in charge of this “business” instead of the RosUkrEnergo. For the interests of Ukraine as a state it would be much more profitable if we would have no intermediaries at all. But who cares about Ukrainian interests…