“Good morning, friends! As you all know, Europe and Gazprom are currently playing a zero-sum game. It goes like this: our northern neighbor create a crisis, we deal with it, while the European Union carefully watches it from the side. And now we need your help”.
This message, published on Facebook this morning, kicked off Naftogaz’s campaign, which was later labelled “Turn it down”.
Here is how Naftogaz explains the situation: Gazprom has reduced the gas pipeline pressure on its side of the system by 20%, and has minimized gas sales to other clients.
“The goal is to realize the dream of “Ukraine is freezing” or the “Ukraine is an unreliable transit country and is stealing gas”. This could be appropriate two weeks before you know who stands for re-election”, - Naftogaz said.
Because of everything going on, Naftogaz suggests to “do the bad thing and ruin the man’s party”.
“We only need to last 3 or 4 days until it gets warm in Ukraine”.
Here is how you can join the campaign:
“If you have a heating boiler, lower the temperature in the premises by 1 degree during daytime and by 2 degrees at night. This would cut the demand for gas by 8-9%, which should be enough for the Russian blackmail to fail”.
Naftogaz stated that the company is cooperating with local authorities in order for utilities providers to do the same thing to residential buildings with centralized heating in the next few days.
“Your help in our efforts to reduce the demand for gas will come very handy. Today is the most important day”,- the corporation’s message summed up.
The campaign has already gained the support of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko.
“By personally joining this campaign, I also encourage all of Ukraine’s government agencies to lower the temperature in their premises. I also call on our people to turn heating just one degree down or to avoid heat waste in Ukrainian households wherever possible”- his message published on Facebook reads.
I missed where it all started! What is going on?
It seems like Gazprom was outraged by the ruling of the Stockholm Court of Arbitration, which was made two days earlier, on 28 February.
Based on the decision made after two trials in Stockholm, Gazprom is supposed to pay Naftogaz 2.56 billion U.S. dollars. Gazprom claimed it could not agree on such option, adding it would ‘protect its rights in every possible way allowed by the applied law’.
On March 1, Gazprom said that Naftogaz-Ukraine conducted pre-payment for resumption of Russian gas supplies since March 2018. On the other hand, Gazprom, returned the funds, explaining that there us no agreed additional agreement, which completes the current contract.
Next day, March 2, Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller claimed that his company begins the procedure of breaking the contract with Naftogaz, which foresees supplies and transit of the blue fuel.
‘Using double standards, Stockholm arbitrary court made an asymmetric decision about the contracts on gas supply and transit, which were signed with Nafotgaz-Ukraine national joint stock company. Thus, the court’s decision considerably hurt the balance of the interests of the parties’, he said.
Ukraine and Europe’s reaction
Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman called Gazprom’s actions ‘a blackmail of Ukraine and Europe,’ instructing NJSC Naftogaz-Ukraine to solve the shortage of gas as soon as possible and with maximum efficiency.
Ukraine’s Energy and Coal Industry Ministry ordered power generating companies to switch of to the use of heating oil instead of natural gas; it also recommended that industrial objects revise their action plans in order to save gas resources. Kindergartens, schools and high education facilities suspended their work.
Managers of Naftogaz call Gazprom’s denial to supply the gas ‘a violation of the agreement and failure to comply with the court’s decision’. The Ukrainian side adds that they received no documents from Gazprom so far.
Europe reacted, too. The European Commission expressed concerns over the reliability of the gas transit from Russia to Europe, noting that ‘there’s nothing new in the low and unstable gas pressure during the supplies from Russia to Ukraine for further transit to the EU; however, in conditions of low winter temperatures, it causes problems’.
It is currently known that Naftogaz company started buying the blue fuel from Polish PGNiG company. The respective contract will expire in late March 2018.