And now comes the work – carrying out the work in practical terms. As Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak announced, by the end of July all regions of Russia are to establish regional operators responsible for providing local gad supplies. These companies are to be responsible for all parts of the infrastructure: gas pipelines and control taps, pipeline links between population centres and gas distribution centres right up to the edge of individual plots of land. Operators are to assume responsibility for meeting requests for connecting households to the distribution networks. In the event of a shortfall in funds, legislation provides for financing by a single operator for network supplies by regional operators.
“Operators like this are already being set up. At our last meeting (on 14th July), I issued a directive so that within two weeks legal acts could be established to confirm regional gas supply operators. Regional operators will take responsibility for providing in full gas supplies in their region,” Novak said after meeting Andrey Turchak, Secretary of the General Council of the United Russia party.
In those regions where no regional operator can be set up, an affiliate of Gazprom, “Gazprom Gazifikatsiya”, will take on the job. The company was registered in June and, in accordance with a government order, has already achieved the status as Russia’s sole operator for overseeing the expansion of the gas network.
In most regions where gas distributing companies dominate this will be Gazprom – and where there are regional operators, they will take responsibility for gas supply. Gazprom is present in 67 Russian regions, large regional operators work in 12 other regions, including “Mosoblgaz”. There are also independent operators in Crimea, Sevastopol and Sverdlovsk region.
According to government figures, the expansion of the Russian gas network, free of charge, could cover 3.794 million households. The total cost of connecting that number of subscribers is estimated at 567.549 billion Russian roubles ($7.76 billion).
The average cost of connecting a household throughout Russia is estimated at 150,000 roubles – excluding VAT. One of the most expensive average connection costs was incurred in Kabardino-Balkaria – 336,000 roubles.
In total, 97,300 requests for connection to the gas network were received – 10,100 were turned down. At this time, about 20,000 homes have been connected under the free scheme.
“Connections are proceeding – already 20,000 have been completed. We started this work on 21st April, after the president’s annual address. The accent, to a great extent, has been placed on the legal aspect to ensure everything is conducted clearly,” Novak said. “Secondly, we sought to create work, relationships and the supply of information from the regions so that everything was within the framework of this special project.”
The government expects that, when complete, the number of connection requests covers about 60 % of all households to which the free programme of gas supply applies. “Our overall understanding is that the maximum number of homes without gas supply is about 4 million in 36,000 localities,” the deputy prime minister said. “But clearly, not all will be making requests. I think the ratio will be 0.6 of the potential number of requests.”
Gazprom is providing a minimal kit of its own equipment at the cost of 40,000-45,000 roubles per household. This includes a gas meter, a gas analyser, a boiler and a stove. Experts are working out the cost per metre of laying pipe to a site – from the edge of a land plot to the house. And at the same time, regional and federal officials are drafting measures to provide a unified set of discounts for specific categories of customer. Turchak said the discounts to be provided would vary from region to region.
According to the United Russia party, only 32 regions have adopted discounting practices of this nature – in some regions, the budget practice is to provide a 50 % discount. In others, the discount could be as high as 100 %. “It is important that at the federal level such a fixed set-up is established,” Turchak said. “So that there are no disparities in the country, so that the minimal provisions are set down”
Gazprom set about working out a large-scale gas supply programme a year ago. The programme calls for the level of gas supply to be raised from 71.4 % to 83 %. This will result in increased gas consumption in the country to 18 billion cubic metres.
The government’s “road map”, adopted in April, dealing with accelerated provision of gas supplies set down the criteria for additional gas connections – these are plots of land located no further than 200 metres from existing gas pipes which contain sufficient capacity for the connections and where gas consumption equipment does not exceed 7 cubic metres an hour.