Executives of PAO Ukrnafta that is part of the Naftogaz group have been supplying a village in Ivano-Frankivsk region with unaccounted natural gas from a state-owned hole. It is still unclear whether or not it was paid for by the consumers, and, if it was, where the money went – law enforcement agencies are to investigate. Some 1000 households were taking gas right from an Ukrnafta pipeline, to which they were illegally connected. Experts estimate the losses to the state at around 40 million cubic meters of gas over the 20 years that the scam has been in place for, according to a document published by Andriy Kobolev on his Facebook page.
There are a total of 1833 households in the village of Pasichna in the Nadvirnyansky county of Ivano-Frankivsk region. Only 738 of those are officially gas-fired and connected to the gas distribution net. The rest of them have been getting gas from the industrial gas pipeline since the 1990s. The pipeline is property of the Ukrnafta state enterprise, which is part of the Naftogaz group. The pipeline was used to transport gas directly from the Babchinske gas field. The entire story of illegal gas consumption was revealed just now, when in May the pipeline was decommissioned, leaving some 1000 local families without gas supply. The families then called on the local authority to solve the issue of supplying gas to their homes.
In order to estimate the losses, one needs to take into account that, according to the data from the National Regulatory Commission on Energy and Utilities, an average household located on an area of 70-120 m2 consumes around 2,000 m3 og gas annually. This means that 1000 homes in the village had been consuming at least 2 million m3 of gas directly from Ukrnafta’s gas field. Given the price of gas, set by a Cabinet decree at UAH 5.9 per m3, excluding transportation costs, the average loss to the state comes up to UAH 12 million ($461,538) a year. It is now the task of law enforcement authorities to figure out whom the money for the illegally obtained gas from the state enterprise’s pipeline went to, and how much was paid exactly.
The quality of gas from the gas field has caused a number of complaints from the villagers, as they were getting unprocessed gas directly from the Ukrnafta field. The perpetrators of the scheme of illegal enrichment was also threatening to the lives of the people, because the gas is not supposed to be consumed by households and has no smell.
A Naftogaz-Ukraine executive wrote about the problem two years ago. This means that people working for the state enterprise were well aware of the illegal gas trade and had been covering-up the crime. It is worth reminding that Ukrnafta owns 51% of shares in Ukrnafta, while Andriy Kobolev is the head of the supervisory board of the company.
Ivano-Frankivskgas came out to announce they would look into the technical opportunity to connect the locals to the lawful gas distribution net, which would allow them to officially pay for gas of good quality that is tested monthly.
The issue of funding the connection of new consumers and property rights to land plots are to be decided by the local authorities, as the Naftogaz group did not provide for the people, cutting them off gas supply momentarily. It is still very possible that local consumers had been promptly paying for the gas without realizing it was an illegal scheme.