Naftogaz asking govt to postpone payment of dividends, help to attract loans for pumping gas into UGS facilities
Chairman of Executive Board of NJSC Naftogaz Ukrainy Andriy Kobolev has called on the Cabinet of Ministers to postpone the payment of dividends by the company and help to attract loans for pumping gas into the underground gas storage (UGS) facilities of Ukraine for successfully passing the new heating season by the country.
Kobolev said on his Facebook page that Russia's Gazprom is currently preparing for the winter and the "new gas war," and an increase in the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine by 8% in January-May 2019 is evidence of this.
"In European UGS facilities that publish data, now there are already 20 billion cubic meters more gas than the average amount over the two previous years. The increase in reserves in them amounts to 60% of the figure for the same period of 2018," he wrote.
Ukraine is also preparing for the heating season, actively pumping gas into its UGS facilities. So, at present, the volume of imports is 20% higher than last year's figure. Gas reserves in storage facilities as of June 1 amounted to 11.5 billion cubic meters, which is 1.8 billion more than a year earlier.
"If we continue to accumulate gas at such a pace, by the beginning of the heating season we will reach the required level of 20 billion cubic meters. Then we will be ready for any actions of Gazprom, and Ukraine's position in the negotiations will be protected," he said.
At the same time, there are risks of not achieving this goal. In particular, this is the shortage of funds of Naftogaz Ukrainy because of the debt (in the amount of UAH 61.4 billion) of gas distribution network operators, as well as to heat supply enterprises for the gas supplied to them. At the same time, this debt is twice the amount needed to prepare for the winter. Another factor for the shortage of funds is the requirement for the company to pay dividends in the amount of 90% of its profits. Payments must be made before the end of July, which, according to Kobolev, is an extraordinary challenge for the company.
"At least installments until we start selling gas would be good for us. The second way is to attract loans. This requires permission and active participation of the Cabinet of Ministers as our sole shareholder. So far, we are on schedule in pumping gas into the underground storage facilities. However, if the problem liquidity will not be resolved in the coming weeks, it will be impossible to purchase sufficient volumes of gas. The situation requires urgent attention at the highest level," the head of Naftogaz said.