Recently, one of the most disliked politicians of Russia - Anatoly Chubais - added new minuses to his karma. He suggested raising the price of gas and electricity for the population several times. Than expectedly caused a flurry of indignation among the experts and the citizens themselves. However, in some way the born reformer is right: probably, only a decisive rise in the price of "blue gold" will allow Gazprom to stay afloat. Other scenarios for the company do not mean anything good.
Despite traditionally brave reports of the monopoly, independent experts show uncertainty about its future. Yes, according to the company's data, exports to non-CIS countries are growing, among which giant representatives like to allocate Turkey, domestic demand is also increasing. However, this situation can hardly be called sustainable: big problems with Gazprom's pipeline projects are gathering clouds over the European direction of supply, and the leadership is not doing well. Therefore, it is possible that the "national treasure" will soon turn into an "all-Russia burden". If, of course, the authorities again do not resort to the shock Chubais recipes.
Tubes - the cranks
Meanwhile, Gazprom is increasingly rolling up money into its numerous pipeline projects. This year this process will accelerate. Investments in the "Power of Siberia-1" will increase almost to 218 billion, to "Turkish flow" - almost twice, to more than 182 billion, and to "Nord Stream-2" - to 114.5 billion rubles. Some experts are embarrassed by such waste. In particular, the partner of the consulting company RusEnergy Mikhail Krutikhin believes that many of the monopoly's main lines are economically untenable. "Where can we expect growth in demand? In China? "The Power of Siberia": 38 billion cubic meters of gas are promised per year, they will give 4.6 billion to begin with. To fulfill promises, we need a production of 42 billion. Where are the resources? "The power of Siberia" will not pay off in 30 years. The motivation for the project is a show-off plus the self-interest of contractors, "the analyst believes.
In the dry balance, the following: "Gazprom" should rely only on consumers to the west of Kaliningrad. "Europe remains the main and main market for Russian gas. Here, "Gazprom" wins any competitors ", - said Krutikhin. He distinguishes several advantages of the Russian company. Among them - the ready transport infrastructure, long-term contracts, weakening ruble, state support.
"Last year, we can safely say that Gazprom won the struggle for the European market - it provides gas supply by 33-35% of the market," comments Oksana Lukicheva, an analyst on commodity markets, Otkryt Broker. "The rest of the pipeline gas producers are losing ground, and LNG producers supply gas only sporadically," the expert adds.
But the question remains: how much longer will Gazprom feel comfortable?
hope dies last
Already, Europeans are willing to demonstrate that our "national treasure" is not a critical supplier for them. Not so long ago German "green" spoke against Gazprom, urging the politicians to stop the construction of the "Nord Stream-2". "Tickle" the monopoly and on the other hand: Siemens said that it considers the gas generation in the Old World to be unpromising and therefore reduces the production of gas turbines. And this is only the beginning.
"The situation in the gas market in Europe in 2018 will only worsen," analyst Anatoly Nesmiyan predicts. - In the US, the two largest terminals on the East Coast are being commissioned and brought to the planned targets, targeting just the European direction. The LNG market will grow by more than half in the coming decade. " "Under the circumstances, Gazprom will be able to retain its share in the European market only due to a significant price reduction."
And if so, are the multi-billion investments in expensive infrastructure really reasonable, which, moreover, has not been fully extended to the resisting consumer?
"I remain an optimist in the prospects of laying the" Nord Stream - 2 ", - says the head of the analytical department of IC" Zerich Capital Management "Nikolai Podlevsky. However, he immediately stipulates: "There will still be many problems with both its gasket and subsequent loading. Many questions about the cost of construction. " "Similarly, on the Turkish flow. And on other projects of the company, too, "- warns the expert.
While our "national treasure" is investing billions in a pipe, Europe is gradually abandoning its traditional energy. And the example for the countries of the Old World is the United Kingdom. Six years ago, 40% of the electricity in the kingdom was produced by burning coal - now this figure is 7%. Now, it is not excluded, the same happens with gas: the year before last it reached the next peak of consumption by power stations, exceeding the bar in 40%, and in 2017 the use of this raw material went below it.
At the same time, the share of green energy in the UK is growing. In particular, the wind gave 10% of the total generation of electricity in 2016 and 15% in 2017.
In total, the wind, the sun and water now account for a quarter of the entire power generation of the state.
And this is bearing fruit: as experts say, "electricity generation in the UK is now the most environmentally friendly than ever." If such a result is to the government's liking, it will continue to seek to reduce the share of traditional energy carriers in this generation itself with an appropriate refusal of "dirty" raw materials. "
Miracles on the letter "M"
In modern Russia, a curious practice has developed: a large official, as a rule, retains his post even in the event of the worst failure - the same Mutko will not let you lie. However, this rule is also true for the head of Gazprom Alexei Miller. It is justifiably believed that he "overslept" the slate revolution and generally adheres to an extremely conservative business model that paradoxically combines with extraordinarily bold expenditure, such as the sponsorship of the football club Schalke 04, the multimillion-dollar expenses for the St. Petersburg FC Zenit and so on. During the last five-year period, rumors of his resignation appeared many times and were not constantly confirmed. No wonder - this is the practice. But, perhaps, this time the rumors do not lie.
According to the available information, now the reason, apparently, is not Miller's incompetence, but in the state of health of the 56-year-old manager. At least this can be the official version, voiced to the public. Whatever the case, the head of Gazprom in retirement does not get bored: his daily salary is about 2.75 million rubles, or 82.6 million rubles a month, or nearly a billion a year, not counting bonuses. Such money still has to be spent on a well-deserved rest.
As for Miller's successor, the most likely candidate to replace the gas production veteran and pipeline is the current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The reshuffle is likely to be announced after the presidential election. And as for Gazprom, it is unlikely that anything will change in its fate. That is, it will not be better.
Account for payment
On the last day of winter, Stockholm arbitration put an end to the proceedings of Gazprom and Naftogaz. The Ukrainian side sought $ 4.63 billion from the Russian company for alleged losses caused by the failure to supply the agreed amount of raw materials. The court sided with the plaintiff and ordered Gazprom to pay the opponent $ 2.56 billion (2 billion of the debt of the Ukrainian company was deducted from the amount of the claim).
Gazprom considers the decision unjust and promises to defend its rights. However, experts believe that parting with the money still can not be avoided. "It is more likely that Gazprom will pay the debt, and quickly, so that there is no penalty. There are no tools. There is a Swedish court - a type of the Supreme Court, but there they are considered in the form, not in essence, "analysts of the industry portal Neftegaz.ru believe.
But what should be even more offensive to the "national heritage", this financial loss is not limited. "It is worth recalling how, from October 2016 to March 2017, the decision of Russia's political leadership" Gazprom "dramatically reduced transit [through Ukraine] ... Gazprom suffered the financial losses. During this period, he sold less gas to his traditional partners, and the lost profit is estimated at about $ 4 billion, "recalls Mikhail Krutikhin, partner of the consulting company RusEnergy.
Gazprom announced the termination of all contracts with Naftogaz for supply and transit through Ukraine. "The arbitrators argued their decision with a sharp deterioration in the state of the Ukrainian economy. We are categorically opposed to Ukraine's economic problems being solved at our expense. In such a situation, the continuation of contracts for Gazprom is economically inexpedient and unprofitable, "the head of the company, Alexei Miller, said.