Decision to replace Kobolev as Naftogaz head is logical, caused by negative results of work – Vitrenko
The government, as a shareholder, not only has the right, but also must react to the ineffective work of the management of NJSC Naftogaz Ukrainy, which resulted in a deterioration in financial and operational results, therefore, the dismissal of Head of the Naftogaz Board Andriy Kobolev and the change of the Supervisory Board is logical, Acting Energy Minister Yuriy Vitrenko said.
"The government should be an active owner, respectively, the Cabinet of Ministers has the right and responsibility to respond to problems in the company. This decision was made in a package considering the results of 2020 [...] And from this point of view, it is understandable," he told Interfax-Ukraine on Wednesday.
Vitrenko said he is limited in commenting on this personnel decision from an ethical point of view, since he was appointed the new head of the company's board, but he understands its reasons.
He said that if in 2019 the consolidated profit of Naftogaz was more than UAH 63 billion, then according to the results of 2020 the consolidated loss, confirmed by the international company Deloitte, exceeded UAH 19 billion and became the first loss after 2015.
He said that at the very end of 2020, Naftogaz itself submitted a financial plan for 2020, which provided for an unconsolidated profit of UAH 11.5 billion, while as a result, an unconsolidated loss amounted to UAH 18 billion. "When you submit a financial plan and promise something, and then instead of the planned UAH 11 billion of profit, you receive a UAH 19 billion loss, this leads to the fact that your owner reacts. Moreover, the profit of Naftogaz is dividends, which receives the state, and the budget counted on them, but now it will not get it," the acting minister said.
According to him, Naftogaz submitted a package of materials to the meeting of shareholders scheduled for Wednesday the night before, after the end of the working day.
The minister said that in 2020, for the first time in many years, Naftogaz received compensation from the national budget for more than UAH 32 billion for the public service obligations (PSO), and it is easy to imagine what the damage would have been without this.
Vitrenko also said that similar companies in neighboring countries, Poland and Romania, were profitable in 2020. "It is correct to compare with these companies, and not with purely commercial Western ones, since Naftogaz uses free fixed assets that it receives from the state. It did not pay for the vast majority of its production licenses, did not buy fixed assets, it was given storage wells equipped, surface infrastructure, all of this in the overwhelming majority of cases was created by the predecessors of Naftogaz as a separate company, it was just that everything was included in the statutory fund," the acting minister said.
He said that in addition to financial results, operating results were also unsatisfactory, which was indicated at the government meeting: in 2021, Ukrgazvydobuvannia reduced sales of marketable gas and production of gross gas, liquid hydrocarbons, while private companies increased production.
He also said the decision was made in full compliance with the law, since the general meeting is the supreme agency of the company, which can make any decisions. "The Cabinet of Ministers had all the legal grounds, rights and opportunities to make decisions and, accordingly, to dismiss the head of the board," the acting minister said.
Vitrenko said that earlier the shareholder delegated a number of powers to the Supervisory Board, but the current decision of the Cabinet of Ministers terminated the powers of the Supervisory Board.
He said the termination of the powers of the supervisory board is justified, since its work was also recognized as unsatisfactory, like the board.