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Russian RTV 'Vesti-Plus' focuses on reform of energy industry

CEP20021217000395 Moscow Russia TV RTR in Russian 2000 GMT 17 Dec 02

[FBIS Report]

  Russian RTV studio discussion programme "Vesti-Plus", hosted by Sergey Paskhov, focused on the reform of the energy industry. The studio guests were the CEO of the Unified Energy Systems, Anatoliy Chubays, and journalist Leonid Radzukhovskiy, who were joined through video linkup by first deputy speaker of Federation Council, Valeriy Goreglyad.
  Chubays stressed the need for reforms and the benefits of market-orientated electricity and heat production and criticized artificially low prices as damaging for the economy. He hoped that the reform aimed at price liberalization would lead to lower prices in the long run. Chubays also noted that he had been swayed to support the concept of setting maximum price increases for power and heat once a year.
  Goreglyad said the main concern was the quality of the reforms and reduction of risks for the consumers.
  (Duration 30')

[Description of Source: Moscow Russia TV RTR in Russian -- wholly state-owned TV network that generally promotes official government policies in both domestic and foreign affairs; broadcasts reach over 93 percent of Russia's viewing audience]



Russian Rail Enterprises May Be Allowed Access to Federal Wholesale Market for Electricity and Generating Capacity (FOREM)

CEP20021217000192 Moscow Kommersant in Russian 17 Dec 02 P 15

[Report by Irina Rybalchenko: "Federal Energy Commission Calls Railroad Shippers To Energy Market"--taken from html version of source provided by ISP.]

[FBIS Translated Text]
    Fuel-energy complex

    Yesterday, Federal Energy Commission (FEK) Chairman Georgiy Kutovoy announced that the FEK is considering the possibility of allowing railroad transport enterprises access to the Federal Wholesale Market for Electricity and Generating Capacity (FOREM).   This would help to reduce energy tariffs for railroad shippers, who are now forced to buy electrical energy from middlemen.   Furthermore, the FEK intends to ask the government to freeze oil transport tariffs.

    "The FEK is seeing to it that railroad tariffs are no higher than the tariff for the industrial consumer in the region.   But this is not enough: Today, the tariff for railroad shippers is too high," FEK Chairman Georgiy Kutovoy said yesterday.   In his words, the FEK is considering the possibility of organizing the wholesale supply of electrical energy for railroads by means of selling electrical energy through railroad energy supply organizations.   "Practically all the railroads have internal networks of energy provision.   They could be handed over to a management company, or an energy supply organization could be created on their basis, which would get the right to buy electrical energy on the wholesale market," specified the head of the FEK.   This would make it possible to reduce energy tariffs for railroad transport.

    As an advisor to the head of the MPS [Ministry of Railways], Konstantin Pashkov, told Kommersant, any decision of the FEK which would allow reduction of tariffs on electrical energy would be acceptable to the railroads.   At the present time, almost all 17 railroads are paying more for electrical energy than it costs on FOREM.   And the organizational structure of the management company for provision of energy, OAO RZhD [joint-stock company of the open type Russian Railroads], would be determined by the FEK itself.

    The FEK interceded for the oil producers yesterday.   According to Mr. Kutovoy, within 2-3 weeks, the commission will report to the government on the Transneft proposal to freeze tariffs on transport of oil for 2003.   He explained that the FEK is currently performing an expert study of the Transneft proposal, of which Mr. Kutovoy approves.   "Retention of prices on services of one of the natural monopolies would make it possible to make changes in tariffs in other sectors more predictable," believes the head of the FEK.

    Georgiy Kutovoy told about the results of the 11 December government meeting, at which the question of prices on services of natural monopolies was discussed, as well as their investment programs for 2003.   He noted that the government will make its final decision on the Gazprom investment program in the first quarter of next year, and specified that, under conditions of the upper limit for increasing tariffs on gas in the amount of 20 percent, which had been approved by the government, it would be difficult for Gazprom to fulfill the investment program in the planned volumes.   "In 2003, Gazprom must not only retain its volumes of gas drilling, but also increase them, perform drilling work and develop deposits, including the Zapolyarnoye deposit," he said.   "And with a tariff increase of 20 percent, Gazprom will not have sufficient financial resources of its own to implement the investment program.   And this means it will have to either reduce investment expenditures, or increase its volume of borrowing."   We may recall that the government approved the Gazprom investment program in the amount of R193.3 billion, as opposed to the R204 billion proposed by the holding company's management.

    As for the energy producers, according to Mr. Kutovoy, the increase in tariffs for purchasers of electrical energy on FOREM by 17-19 percent as of January 2003 will make it possible to reduce the difference between the cost of purchase and sale of the electrical energy, caused by the disparity in tariffs established for FOREM buyers and sellers.   We may recall that, in order to eliminate the existing "tariff imbalance" in the amount of R15.2 billion, the FOREM ZAO TsDR [joint-stock company of the closed type, Monetary Transactions Center] had proposed increasing tariffs for purchasers of electrical energy on FOREM by 30 percent as of 1 January 2003.   In that case, tariffs for suppliers could increase by 10-12 percent.   In Mr. Kutovoy's opinion, the state itself is also to blame for the tariff imbalance.   For example, in amending tariffs for the GES [hydroelectric power plants], amortization and the several-time increase in the water tax were not taken into consideration.

[Description of Source: Moscow Kommersant in Russian -- Informative daily newspaper purchased by Boris Berezovskiy in 1999 and often reflecting his viewpoint.]

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