Gazprom faces $12 billion bill and penalties if it fails to pay for Ukraine transit – CEOs
Speaking to the media just hours after Russia reduced gas flows to Europe by a 3rd, Yuri Vitrenko, CEO of the Ukraine’s gas incumbent Naftogaz said the company was ready to reiterate a multi-billion claim against the Russian producer if it breaches the terms of the ship-or-pay transit agreement
The Ukrainian gas grid operator GTSOU called force majeure and halted flows at the Sokhranivka border point in the Russian-controlled Luhansk region on May 10 amid fears that gas was being stolen there.
If left uncurbed, the unauthorised off-takes, which are thought to be used to operate fero-alloy plants regionally, could have cost Ukraine as much as $10 bln this year.
Sergiy Makogon, CEO of the gas grid operator GTSOU, said the company had asked Gazprom to reroute the gas to the Sudzha border point, 600 km north-east of Sokhranivka and to book additional capacity to compensate for the halted gas.
The rerouting to Sudzha, which has a technical capacity of 247.7mcm/day, would have been free of charge.
Instead of booking the 77 mcm/day capacity which it is expected to reserve at Sudzha and an additional 33 mcm/day for Sokhranivka, Gazprom booked only 72 mcm/day on May 11.
Meanwhile, the Russian troops shut down the valves controlling the entry of gas into Ukrainian territory, according to Makogon.
Transit agreement terms
Under the terms of the existing transit contract, Gazprom is expected to pay for a daily booked capacity of 109.6 mcm, whether it uses it or not.
Although Gazprom transit flows are now reduced by a 3rd, there are no indications that the producer would be looking to bail out on its payments to Ukraine.
Nevertheless, Vitrenko said that if Gazprom refused to pay for the booked capacity, Naftogaz, as the company organising the transit, would reiterate an old arbitration $12 bln claim against the Russian producer,
The existing transit agreement with Gazprom was signed in December 2019 on the understanding that Ukrainian counterparties would waive the consolidated $12 bln against Gazprom in exchange for the latter signing a 5-year transit agreement.
The claim related to Gazprom’s under-deliveries of gas under a previous contract which ended in 2019.
The claim would be added to penalties that Gazprom may have to pay if found in breach of its ship-or-pay transit agreement.
A Gazprom spokesman said on a Telegram post on May 10 that the company did not see any evidence of obstacles to transit.
Makogon confirmed GTSOU had been collecting evidence about interference with the transmission system for potential litigation and added that Gazprom had been repeatedly notified of the fact that Russian or Russia-affiliated troops were tampering with the operation of infrastructure.
Author: Aura Sabadus