Posted 4 сентября 2023,, 14:53
Published 4 сентября 2023,, 14:53
Modified 4 сентября 2023,, 15:54
Updated 4 сентября 2023,, 15:54
Yelena Petrova, Natalia Seibil
The statement of the President of Moldova Maya Saidu that the international audit did not confirm the debt of the republic to Gazprom in the amount of $ 800 million, caused surprise among Russian experts.
A month ago, Energy Minister Viktor Parlikov received the audit results and called them «interesting». Now the Russian side has found out why the minister was surprised. Marcel Salikhov, President of the HSE Institute of Energy and Finance, says:
— If there is a report of auditors who understood all the contracts (payments are not public information), it is difficult to judge from the outside what exactly were the terms of the contracts, which penalties were prescribed in the contracts for delay, for non-payment. This all affects the assessment.
Since 2011, Gazprom and Moldovagaz have extended the agreement on gas supplies to the country. On October 29, 2021, the contract was extended once again for 5 years. The condition for signing by the Russian company was Moldova's proposal that it undertakes to pay current payments and will repay the historical debt. It amounts, according to Gazprom, to $ 433 million, and if you take into account penalties and fines for overdue payments — 709 million. However, for its part, the government asked for an independent audit to check not only Moldovagaz, but also all subsidiaries that are indirectly and directly related to gas supplies from Of Russia. Gazprom agreed to this, says Marcel Salikhov:
— The auditors' report has not been published, so it is unclear where such a result came from, despite the fact that last year it was about $ 700 million. It is quite possible that, depending on how the delay, penalties, and so on are taken into account. Maybe some one—time reasons — 700 or 800 million, depending on the approach. But when it is said that there is no debt at all, it looks strange.
Maya Saidu claims that the government contacted two international auditing companies at once — the Norwegian Wikborg Rein Advokatfirma and the British Forensic Risk Alliance &Co., which provided the audit report.
The President expressed a cautious assumption that Gazprom allegedly did not act quite correctly in 2021. Apparently, the politician did not like the bill issued taking into account the penalties.
Alexey Grivach, Deputy Director General of the National Energy Security Fund (NSF), suggested in an interview with the Regnum agency that the actions of the Moldovan authorities have specific goals:
«To be honest, I had no doubt that the auditor was tasked with concluding that the debt is significantly less or there is none, and even better, that Gazprom owes Moldovagaz. And thus create a basis for taking away either the share of a Russian company in a joint venture, or the seizure of assets.»
Marcel Salikhov also admits that there are several fundamental problems that are connected not only with Moldova, but also with Transnistria:
— Historically, Gazprom supplied gas to Transnistria, and Transnistria did not pay for it. At the same time, there is the Moldovskaya GRES, the largest power plant owned by INTERAO, which provides electricity to Moldova itself and Transnistria. There are separate agreements that Moldova, the Moldova-Gas company, concluded with Gazprom.
Experts call the situation explosive. The fact is that Moldova receives electricity from Transnistria. Not only the population in Tiraspol, but also in Moldova itself can suffer from rash actions.
In the most extreme case, Gazprom will simply stop supplying gas to the country, Marcel Salikhov says:
— As I understand it, the contract that was concluded in 2021 between Moldova-Gas and Gazprom for five years provides that Gazprom may stop providing gas supplies.
— Not to prolong or not to fulfill the contract?
— Not to fulfill the contract. It provided for debt prolongation. Moldova has asked for some audit. Gazprom claimed a debt of $500 million for that period. Moldova offered to conduct an audit and figure it out exactly. Gazprom agreed, said — we are concluding a contract now, we are dealing with the audit, but if it is not possible to settle this issue, I understand that the contract stipulates the possibility of stopping supplies.
Meanwhile, Gazprom has already reduced the purchase price from 1012 to 673 dollars per thousand cubic meters. Experts suspect that Moldova has worked out alternative gas supplies to the republic, and this explains such a harsh comment by the authorities.
Gazprom has not yet responded. This is also due to the fact that the detailed results of the audit are not yet known. However, the situation for the gas giant is not the simplest: the European market for pipeline gas is closed, profitability has fallen, and it will be necessary to fulfill political obligations — gas supply to Pridnestrovie — in any case.