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Illegal schemes: Ukraine cannot protect Prykarpatzakhidtrans oil product pipeline

Author : Igor Smolov

Source : 112 Ukraine

The authorities not only cannot resume the operation of the Prykarpstzakhidtrans oil product pipeline, which was taken away by a raider from a group of foreign investors, but they do not even provide its protection. The pipe contains 130,000 tons of diesel fuel, which remained after its illegal expropriation. At current prices, $ 80 million can be earned from the sale of such a volume of fuel
20:03, 30 August 2021

Bloomberg

Attempts to pump out the pipe are still being stopped by the guards hired by the former owners of Prykarpatzakhidtrans. They have been protecting the oil product pipeline from illegal tapping for the past six years and have achieved good results: the thriving business of illegal tapping has been completely suppressed. But now he looks up. And it’s easy to guess what will happen when Prykarpatzakhidtrans cannot pay for the services of a security company, and the state continues to “guard” the pipe, as it is now.

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The cutters returned to the "pipe"

The National Police of the Perechynsky District (Transcarpathian Region, Uzhgorodsky District) opened a criminal case on the fact of illegal tie-in at the Prikarpatzapadtrans oil pipeline section in the village of Dubrynychi. Employees of the Khazard security company, which has been guarding the oil product pipeline since 2015 and is still working under an agreement with Prykarpatzakhidtrans itself, found the insert and called the police. The attackers managed to connect a hundred-meter sleeve to the oil product pipeline and fill a tank of 20 thousand cubic meters by almost a third, from the sale of which, at black market prices, almost half a million hryvnias can be gained. Even before the arrival of the police, they themselves fled, leaving a car with plates taken from another car at the scene of the crime.

Local mass media report that the vehicle belongs to a certain Mykola Bodnaryuk, who had previously been detained while trying to steal the Prykarpatzakhidtrans diesel engine.

Criminal cases have been hanging in court for several years, which can be partly explained by the fact that a local policeman Oleg Malosh was driving the bus, which was at the time of the theft of diesel from the oil pipeline.

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The business of illegal taps into the oil product pipeline was one of the most profitable for local residents. Whole villages were fed on it, Ruslan Kormylo, director of the Khazard security company, told 112ua.tv. This happened until the moment when private owners came. They not only adjusted the operation of the pipe but also put everything in order, ensuring its safe operation.

Theft from an oil product pipeline is a simple business. Its length is 800 km - the pipe passes through four regions: Zhytomyr, Rivne, Lviv, Transcarpathian. Many areas allow vehicles to approach. The whole operation does not take much time: within an hour you can wedge a hose into the pipe and pump out 20,000 tons of diesel, which is quickly sold for cash without paying any taxes. The criminals actively take advantage of the fact that Ukrainian legislation does not provide for serious liability for this kind of embezzlement - in the few cases that they managed to bring to a verdict, they were given no more than three years probation. But it is not easy to bring such cases to the end: even if the guards of the oil product pipeline manage to detain the intruders at the crime scene, it is extremely difficult to prove their involvement in the fact of theft. “We have had cases when the intruders caught on the hot said that they were picking mushrooms. There were even cases that they were caught with a drill, at the moment when a man punched a pipe. steal a diesel engine, not a hooligan," Ruslan Kormylo told 112ua.tv.

The difficulty lies in the fact that often the attackers and the police are in tandem with each other. For a substantial fee, the police are ready to cover up and excuse accomplices, delaying the case for years. The case in Dubrynychi is far from an exception.

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The state cannot protect the oil product pipeline

And there was something to take from Prykarpatzakhidtrans. After a group of foreign investors led by International Trading Partners (ITP) Anatoliy Schaefer brought the pipeline back to life, investing up to half a billion dollars in it, the oil product pipeline pumped diesel fuel from Russia and Belarus to Ukraine and for transit to Europe. The fuel supplied through it was bought by Polish and Hungarian companies - in particular, such giants of the world fuel market as MOL and Orlen.

Prykarpatzakhidtrans carried out major repairs and modernization of tank farms, capacities for filling the product, invested in the technical re-equipment of its divisions. A complete diagnostics of the oil product pipeline was carried out, the newest systems for monitoring the quantity and quality of oil products were built. The shareholder's investments in the company were constantly growing.

For a long time, the Prykarpatzakhidtrans oil product pipeline was the most profitable way of transporting diesel to Ukraine. Pipeline deliveries were cheaper than rail logistics and expensive sea transshipment. Gennadiy Ryabtsev, director of special projects of the Scientific and Technical Center "Psyche", noted that a rather cheap resource was supplied to Ukraine via the pipe, but at the same time it was of very high quality. The share of Proton supplies in the total volume of diesel fuel imports to Ukraine reached about a third of all imports, which pushed prices down.

During 2016-2017. Khazard waged a war with the cutters, who, taking advantage of the absence of legal retaliation, hunted for diesel on an area of ​​almost 800 km. The company hired by Prykarpatzakhidtrans organized automobile and foot patrols and used drones. It soon took effect. The business of "cutters" around Prykarpatzakhidtrans practically died. However, after the NSDC decided to expropriate the pipe from the legal owners, he again began to raise his head.

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As you know, in mid-April, the tender for the management of the facility, announced by ARMA, was won by the state-owned Ukrtransnafta. Moreover, all this time, from February to April to the present day, the state did not finance the protection of the linear part of the oil product pipeline - this function is still performed by the Khazard company under an agreement with Prykarpatzakhidtrans.

The state took under protection only a number of stationary objects associated with Prykarpatzakhidtrans, in particular, the oil depot in Novograd-Volynsky, from which fuel was shipped to traders throughout Ukraine. The state did not finance or finance the protection of the oil product pipeline itself. The state structures have not yet succeeded in resuming the operation of the oil product pipeline. Both officially and offrek in Naftogaz say that the authorities have a great desire to resume pumping fuel through Prykarpatzakhidtrans. This issue is being actively discussed and studied, but it is still impossible to get it off the ground. Serhiy Kuyun, director of the A-95 Consulting Group, said in a comment to RBC-Ukraine that it is hardly possible to wait for the resumption of diesel supplies by pipeline from Belarus or Russia, primarily for political reasons.

How long the situation of uncertainty will last and how the issue with regard to 130,000 tons of diesel fuel, which is in the pipe, will be resolved, is not yet clear. But it is obvious that if the authorities do not dare to transfer it to legitimate private owners and at the same time do not ensure the protection of the pipe, very quickly this volume will turn into a living cache, which will settle in the pockets of cutters and their accomplices in law enforcement agencies. This means that government agencies will have to say goodbye to plans to revive the pipe, and for a long time. There will be nothing to maintain pressure in a dry pipe.

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