13 january 2009

Vladimir Putin visited the Gazprom central production and control department

Vladimir Putin

During the visit to the Gazprom central production and control department

"We shall do our best to work on in the same absolute transparency for our partners to take full account of what is going on in Russian terminals from which gas is piped to European consumers. Our contacts with the Balkan countries and Central and Western Europe have a huge scope. We shall keep up the same patterns in every direction."

Vladimir Putin: I have just spoken with the Bulgarian and Slovakian Prime Ministers. We agreed to meet in Moscow tomorrow. They are eager to come to get first-hand information.

Marjeta Jager, Director at the European Commission Directorate General for Energy and Transport, recently apologised to our representative in Brussels for her group's assumption that Gazprom was not admitting European Union observers into its pumping stations. Ms Jager said the information had been proven wrong, and all appointees were on the site already. Let us see what is going on.

Boris Posyagin (head of the Gazprom central production and control department): I am ready to get you up to speed, Mr Putin.

Look at this small screen-see the Sudzha gas measuring unit in the top column? It has measured only 1,293,000 cubic meters today.

Vladimir Putin: So some gas has got through despite everything?

Boris Posyagin: Yes, the gas has crossed the border into Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin: How much of it?

Boris Posyagin: It was a total of 1,633,000 cu m. The flow was normal at the start but later fell and the pressure went up, so we saw that the intake was blocked. Look at this graph, please. The route mapped on top links the following measuring units: the Urengoi-Pomory-Uzhgorod-Yelets pipeline, then Kremenchug, Krivoi Rog, Progress and Sudzha. We have opened supplies on the Yelets-Kremenchug-Krivoi Rog line. We have opened it fully. The pressure stands at 70.1 with zero input-see the end column?

Vladimir Putin: So there is no input. Does this mean that Ukraine is not receiving gas?

Boris Posyagin: That's right.

Vladimir Putin: As far as I know, Ukraine's Naftogaz has acknowledged that it is really blocking Russian gas.

The conversation continues in the presence of Alexei Miller, Gazprom CEO.

Vladimir Putin: Tell us what's going on, please.

Alexei Miller: Respected colleagues and journalists! Gazprom ordered that Russian gas transit via Ukraine resume at 10 am today. Sudzha has turned on the taps. See it on the monitor-the two green taps? Deliveries to Ukraine are on. As we see on the monitor, the pipe is under pressure on the Russian side. We see pressure in Sudzha, on the Russian-Ukrainian border. We are supplying gas under 70.1 atm. Supply in Sudzha is shown in the top right corner-but there is a double zero to the right. This means gas is not coming to Ukrainian pipelines-the inline valve is not open on Ukraine's side. This has been so since the order came to resume Russian gas transits via Ukraine.

We have applied to Ukraine for supplies to fully satisfy Bulgarian, Romanian, Turkish, Macedonian, Moldovan, and Greek needs plus a special application for 22.2 million cu m for Slovakia. But, as you see in our monitors, we cannot get even a million cubic metres anywhere.

Vladimir Putin: Oleg says a million has gotten through.

Intervention: It's a million and 633 thousand.

Alexei Miller: Sorry, the gas has reached the Ukrainian inline valve but nothing is coming to Ukrainian pipelines. It stops at the Ukrainian valve.

Vladimir Putin: Has it crossed the no man's land?

Alexei Miller: Yes-this short stretch here.

Vladimir Putin: I have spoken with the Bulgarian and Slovakian Prime Ministers today, as the press has reported. They are coming to Moscow tomorrow. What are our prospects? How many applications have come from the Balkan countries, and how much are we delivering today?

Alexei Miller: We have accepted all Balkan applications to the full extent-from Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Macedonia, and Greece-as with Slovakia.

Vladimir Putin: What is the total amount?

Alexei Miller: 76.6 million cu m for the Balkans and 22.2 million for Slovakia.

Vladimir Putin: How do our Ukrainian colleagues explain why our gas is not being piped to Europe?

Alexei Miller: No explicit explanations have yet been made.

Vladimir Putin: The Naftogaz CEO has just made a public statement. As he acknowledges, gas does not reach the Ukrainian piping system-they cannot open it for some reason, he doesn't say why.

Alexei Miller: For no reason at all! What goes through Sudzha is export gas, and it should reach European consumers via direct transit.

Vladimir Putin: We will do our best to continue to work with the same absolute transparency for our partners to take full account of what is going on in Russian terminals from which gas is piped to European consumers. Our contacts with the Balkan countries and Central and Western Europe have a huge scope. We will keep up the same patterns in every direction.

We planned initially to do what we have done today-resume gas supplies to those countries that the conflict is hitting the worst. These are mainly the Balkans. Things are really bad in Bulgaria, some other Balkan countries and Slovakia, which is why we are satisfying their demands the most urgently. As Mr Miller said, we have earmarked 76.6 million cu m for the Balkans and 22.2 million for Slovakia. If there is no transit via Ukraine, we will all think together-with our Ukrainian partners, too-about what else is to be done for smooth supplies. The Ukrainian piping system might be in bad condition and might not be able to transport the gas. This is quite possible-but then, they ought to say it out loud. We must see what a state the Ukrainian system is in, and whether it can cope with the amount at all.

We will try to get all relevant information with your direct participation, ladies and gentlemen.

Alexei Miller: Mr Putin, the observers had a free hand at Gazprom measuring units and piping facilities-in particular, here at the central production and control department. However, our observers have not been admitted to the Naftogaz control department and underground gas depots, though Ukraine was duty bound to admit them in compliance with the Russian gas transit monitoring procedure, on which Ukraine signed a relevant document yesterday.

Vladimir Putin: Are you in contact with your Ukrainian colleagues?

Alexei Miller: Yes, Mr Putin-but no reassuring information has come from them yet. As we persistently call them to unblock Russian gas transits, they reply again and again, "We will exchange letters".

Vladimir Putin: Letters, they say?

Alexei Miller: Yes, letters!

Vladimir Putin: Correspondence is good but what our Western partners need is gas, not letters. We have resumed supplies in our territory. Have you invited them to visit Gazprom?

Alexei Miller: Of course!

Vladimir Putin: So Naftogaz representatives have been invited to Gazprom?

Alexei Miller: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: Good.