UPDATE 5: Stockholm court orders Gazprom to pay $2.56 bln to Kiev
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KIEV/MOSCOW, Mar 1 (PRIME) -- The Stockholm arbitration court ordered that Gazprom pay Ukrainian energy holding Naftogaz Ukrainy a U.S. $4.67 billion fine for non-shipping of gas under a transit agreement, and it owes Kiev $2.56 billion as a result of an earlier compensation, the company said in a statement Thursday.
“Out of $17 billion worth of monetary claims stated by Naftogaz Ukrainy, the arbiters satisfied $4.673 billion of claims due for supplies of gas for its transit to European consumers in smaller volumes than it was contracted. Taking into account a sum earlier adjudged to Gazprom under the supply contract, the arbiters made a mutual settlement of claims, as a result Gazprom must pay Naftogaz $2.56 billion,” Gazprom said.
Naftogaz Ukrainy CEO Andrei Kobolev said that the company has already asked Gazprom for the dateline of payment of the penalty. “We have already called (Gazprom) and asked them to send us something.” He said that the deadline for Gazprom to pay the fine without a penalty for delay was on Wednesday.
Kobolev also said that Naftogaz Ukrainy will be pursuing change of the gas transit tariffs for Gazprom although the court had turned down the claim by the Ukrainian company. Kobolev said that under the court ruling, Gazprom must pay for the transit of 110 billion cubic meters (bcm) until the end of 2019 regardless of the real transit volume.
Gazprom said that it disagrees with the court ruling and will protect its rights with all legal means. It said that the court ignored a claim that reduction of purchases by European companies was the main reason for lower Ukraine’s transit. The results of hearings of the two cases have provoked a misbalance in relations with Naftogaz Ukrainy, Gazprom said.
Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko ordered the government to initiate negotiations with Russia and the European Commission to implement the court’s decision immediately.
He also ordered Kobolev, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office, the Justice Ministry, and the Foreign Ministry to arrest Gazprom’s assets if the Russian company fails to redeem the $2.56 billion to Naftogaz Ukrainy.
In December 2017, the Stockholm court obliged Naftogaz Ukrainy to pay $2 billion to Gazprom for gas supplies, cut annual contracted purchases to 5 billion cubic meters and ordered the Ukrainian company to buy 4 billion cubic meters under a take-or-pay condition starting from 2018.
Dmitry Marinchenko, director of the natural resources and raw materials department at Fitch rating agency, told PRIME that the Stockholm court decision is moderately negative for Gazprom and Russia in general but will not influence Gazprom’s ratings.
“The news is positive for Naftogaz and moderately negative for Gazprom… but Gazprom has a possibility to pay this amount now from the accumulated funds,” Marinchenko said.
Councilor to Ukraine’s energy and coal industry minister Maxim Bilyavsky said in a Facebook post that Gazprom is again violating conditions of the transit agreement with Naftogaz Ukrainy as the pipe pressure is 10% lower than stipulated in the contract.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters that it is too early to speak about possible new gas talks between Moscow, Kiev, and Brussels. “We have to see the court’s decision, look at it and study it. We need to have conclusions of lawyers. So let’s wait for that time,” he said.
On February 22, European Commission’s Director for the Internal Energy Market of the Energy Department Klaus-Dieter Borchardt said that the E.U. hoped for new trilateral negotiations with Moscow and Kiev on the future of Russian natural gas transit via Ukraine.