In Altay Region, Gas Industry Develops

The company Sibur comes to the Altay region to develop the gas industry

One of the largest companies on the national gas market, the company Sibur, announced about its readiness to invest considerable funds in the gas industry of the Altay region. The natural gas is delivered to the Russian Altay region by the only company at present - Vostokgazprom, through enterprise Altaygazprom, which was formed especially for that purpose. Specialists of the company Altaykraygazservice believe, the fact of a competing company on the market will most likely lead to new, more profitable schemes to deliver natural gas to the region. This will eventually result in a considerable reduction of gas tariffs. The administration of the enterprise said, it would be possible because of the reduction of costs to maintain the services that are used for the exploitation and repairs of the regional gas network. For the time being, there are two services like that: the service of Altaykraygazservice (the company has been working with liquefied gas for 30 years already) and the recently-established service of Altaygazprom (natural gas).

Sibur's specialists calculated, natural gas tariffs could be minimized by 30 percent, if those works were conducted by one enterprise only. The suggestion has been sent to the regional administration. It is worth mentioning that it did not appear accidentally: the investment activity of Vostokgazprom and its branch enterprise Altaygazprom has been brought to nothing lately. The company has been investing anything in the network construction since 2001.

The gas industry in the Altay region started developing in 1972. In 1982, the company Altaykraygaz developed the technical and the economic substantiation of the project. Gas supply schemes were developed and approved for the Altay region before the construction of the arterial pipeline Novosibirsk-Barnaul was started. The project to build the first stage of the mentioned arterial gas pipeline was approved in 1992. The works on distributive gas networks were started in 1991 to establish the gas system in the Altay region.

By 1996, the region had already had five gas distributive stations; their number increased to eight in 1998. However, the speed of the gas construction dropped later because of the insufficient  funding. The situation improved in 1999, when the company Vostokgazprom appeared in the region.  Altaygazprom was established the same year (the equity capital of the new company made up 100,000 rubles). On September 1, 1999, the Altay regional administration made Altaygazprom the only customer to project and build the natural gas infrastructure in the Altay region. The company started working in 1999, and 112.5 million rubles were invested in the regional economy during September 1999 - December 2000. Having reported the success, Vostokgazprom stopped the investment activity, although the act of intent mentioned the funding and the construction of a gas pipeline to the city of Biysk, the use of liquefied natural gas in the field of transportation, the construction of small energy infrastructure and so on.

Deputy Gennady Morozov set out his disappointment with Vostokgazprom's activity. The deputy claimed that the region's interests for Altaygazprom had been deliberately pushed into the background. Morozov said, the enterprise had actually monopolized the regional gas network. The deputy is intended to consider this issue at a session of the regional council. Gennady Morozov believes, one should use the resources of JSC Altaykraygazservice in another way: "This enterprise has been working for 30 years in the region, it has a rich and positive experience. Gazprom does not let the company control the majority of gas networks at present, but Altaykraygazservice is working dynamically anyway. The company's personnel – thousands of people - are capable of handling more complicated tasks. The enterprise is ready to work with natural gas networks, it is ready to reduce costs on its transportation."

The regional administration is considering all suggestions on the issue. Semyon Baikalov, deputy chairman of the regional administration said that the fact of Sibur's appearance in the Altay region should be estimated positively: "It is good when we have a lot of suppliers: the service quality is better and prices are lower, taking into consideration the fact that the quantity of gas delivered by Vostokgazprom is not enough - distributing networks can accept 50 percent more of the current capacity." Semyon Baikalov added, 830 kilometers of gas distributive networks had been built in the region as of July 1st, 2003. The construction of 510 kilometers was funded by the budget, 115 kilometers were funded by local budgets and 129 kilometers were constructed at the expense of the population and enterprises.  Vostokgazprom funded the construction of 59 kilometers of the network, and then it was announced that the company had no money for further works. "That is why, when Sibur made a suggestion to us, we decided to respond, although we have not had any negotiations yet," Baikalov stressed out.

This year, the region has a goal to build the gas pipeline to the city of Biysk. Vostokgazprom is supposed to invest some 100 million rubles in the project. It is not known, if the company is going to do that - Semyon Baikalov believes that it would be very good to attract Sibur's funds for the purposes. "If there are at least two suppliers, there will be an opportunity to choose. Gas prices are regulated by the Federal Energy Committee, but the terms of the contract may be different," the official said.

Speaking about the suggestion to use Altaykraygazservice's resources to deliver and serve gas, Semyon  Baikalov said that there was not a need in that, although the company had a very good experience in the field: "The companies of the regional gas industry have divided their activities normally. It is easier for Altaykraygazservice to work now, because we set gas prices with a certain part of profitability. It is a break-even organization now." Yet, Baikalov added that Altaykraygazservice's suggestion would be considered, "because we are interested in reliable  gas deliveries and lower costs."

Svetlana Shapovalova

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Author`s name Olga Savka