Proposal to head Naftogaz comes from president, PM – Vitrenko
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal have proposed to acting Energy Minister Yuriy Vitrenko to take the post of Executive Board Chairman of NJSC Naftogaz Ukrainy, Vitrenko said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.
"It was not my initiative. When it became clear that the plan to appoint me first deputy prime minister, energy minister could not be implemented because of objective and subjective reasons, then the country's leadership – both the president and the prime minister – suggested considering this option," the acting energy minister, who before joining the Ministry of Energy was the executive director of Naftogaz for a long time, said.
Vitrenko said that this will be his fifth or sixth return to the company. "To be honest, I decided [in 2020] that everything: the page on my work in Naftogaz has been turned over. But it turned out that it is not so simple. I left Naftogaz in 2003, then 2005, then in 2008, in 2009... That is, five times. And each time I thought that it was definitely the last time. But, as you can see, it turned out to be not the last time," he said.
He said that with the current appointment, everything was decided in a matter of hours.
The acting minister rejected suggestions in the media that the factor of his difficult relationship with Executive Board Chairman Andriy Kobolev could have played some role in replacing the executive board chairman of Naftogaz. "If it were so, it could have worked much earlier," he said.
Vitrenko said that discord with Kobolev arose due to the fact that he began to ask the executive board chairman questions, without making them public, about the problems in the company's work, its inefficiency and the need to change approaches in a number of areas.
"I noted back in 2018 that it is necessary to change Naftogaz, because if nothing is done, then Naftogaz will become unprofitable," Vitrenko said.
According to the ex-executive director of Naftogaz, the choice of his candidacy is explained by the fact that the directions in the company he supervised – the launch of reverse gas supplies and diversification of gas supplies, relations with Gazprom, Stockholm arbitration – were successful, in particular, Naftogaz won a large sum of funds and secured the signing of a new transit contract.
"It was not some kind of my personal dream. I just do it [I accept the offer to head the NJSC], because I understand the responsibility. It may sound pretentious, but the company is dear to me. It was always painful for me to look at some problems of Naftogaz that in other areas there were no successes that could be expected," the new executive board chairman said, explaining his motivation.