GAZPROM CUTS ASHGABAT'S OLD PARTNER OFF TURKMEN GAS SUPPLIES
As VEDOMOSTI has learned, GAZPROM has completely cut ITERA off Turkmen gas supplies under the pretext of full pipelines. Hungarian intermediary EURAL TG has come in its place to become a new partner of the monopoly. The company is likely to take in all markets of the CIS after ITERA leaves.
Specializing in Turkmen gas supplies through GASPROM's network, ITERA bought 4 bcm of gas from Turkmenistan in 2004 though Ashgabat agreed to sell 7 bcm. In 2004 ITERA wants to purchase 4,8 bcm from Turkmenistan and 1 bcm more from Kazakhstan. ITERA is going to sell Turkmen gas to Georgia (1,1 bcm), Armenia (0,7 bcm) and Azerbaijan (3 bcm). Besides, ITERA plans to supply around 1 bcm of Khazakh gas to Azerbaijan and 948 mcm of gas produced by PURGAS at the Gubkin field to Kazakhstan.
With an authorized capital worth $12 000, registered in a Hungarian village by three Romanians and one Israeli, EURAL TG made fantastic business over a year of its existence. Not only GASPROM gave EURAL TG the Ukrainian gas market and part of the Poland and Slovak markets, but also helped its official rival and credited it through its filial, Gasprombank.
Next year EURAL TG may take in the markets of Caucasus and Central Asia, from where ITERA, once favorite intermediary of former bosses of the monopoly, is being persistently pushed out by GASPROM.
According to available for VEDOMOSTI information, on November 25 ITERA board of directors chairman Igor Makarov asked GAZPROM managers to enable ITERA to pump 7 bcm of Turkmen gas next year. But just last week GAZPROM's deputy CEO Alexander Ryazanov refused Makarov's request, citing "lack of vacant gas transportation capacities in Uzbekistan." (VEDOMOSTI received a copy of his letter). A top manager of GASPROM expressed his opinion in his memorandum to the CEO of Gasprom, Alexei Miller: "in 2004 48 bcm of gas is to go through Uzbek pipelines, which have barely enough capacity to cope with 46 bcm of gas". EURAL TG's supplies will account for 36 bcm of this amount.
ITERA refused to comment on this yesterday.
Meanwhile, by stripping this company of the chances to sell Turkmen gas, the monopoly is slowly pulling over ITERA's customers. As the press-service of GASPROM reported yesterday, the other day GASEXPORT and the state oil company of Azerbaijan, SOCAR, signed a five-year agreement on the supply of 4 bcm per year (2,75 bcm for 2004). According to a representative of GASPROM the gas supplies will be ensured mainly under a substitution scheme: for example, in stead of Kazakh gas produced by the monopoly together with Kasmunaigas, Azerbaijan will receive Turkmen gas. And a supplier will get his fees. The Gasprom's representative says that a supplier has not been chosen yet and the company will "find the best suitable option".
However, a close to GASPROM source claims that the monopoly has already started negotiations with EURAL TG on the next year's gas supplies to Azerbaijan and Armenia. And this company has Turkmen gas too. It receives 13,7 bcm of this gas from Ukraine for the intermediary services. "As for negotiations I have no such information, a representative of EURAL TG told VEDOMOSTI. But if there is a need we are ready to make this deal".
As for another partner of GASPROM, ROSNEFT, it was much less lucky. ROSNEFT proposed to supply 800 mcm of gas to Kazakhstan in 2004 "for account of the missing supplies of ITERA". But GASPROM's people have not even bothered to talk to them, refusing it right away. "We will supply this gas ourselves instead of ITERA, we don't need intermediaries", a manager of GASPROM stated.
"No sooner had investors sighed with relief and believed that GASPROM started to manage its property in a more effective and rational way than there appeared ITERA's Hungarian twin-company", head of the analytical department with ATON Steven Dashevski complained.
At the same time analyst of TROYKA DIALOG Valeriy Nesterov believes that GASPROM simply tries to "choose less evil from two evils". "It so happened that EURAL TG has more Turkmen gas that it will attempt to sell in Europe. It is more beneficial for GASPROM if one of its gas flows heads Azerbaijan than Poland", Nesterov said.
VEDOMOSTI newspaper, 26.12.2003