A friend of my enemy is my enemy or how Georgians fell out with Kazakhs24.07.2009 | 15:08
KazMunayGaz, owner of Georgian gas networks has been planning to contest appointment of an external governmental administrator to the Georgian lower-tier subsidiary - KazTransGaz-Tbilisi since March. The court proceedings haven't started yet. Neither have the Kazakhs had time to sell the problem asset. Meanwhile the extramural quarrel between the government and investors is running high in the media.
Deputy Energy Minister of Georgia Marika Valiashvili called statements of KazMunayGaz representatives a lie referring to the appointment of a special administrator to KazMunayGaz-Tbilisi aimed at prevention of direct purchase of Azerbaijani gas.
Now KazMunayGaz purchases gas from the oil and gas state corporation of Georgia (owing to it a great deal) and dreams of buying directly from Azerbaijan.
Valiashvili states that KazMunayGaz can apply to court reminding of the fact that after the administrator was appointed KazMunayGaz-Tbilisi's revenues doubled. The company's economic status according to the latest data is improving and the Deputy Minister doesn't understand why the company decided to bring these charges. "As soon as the company wipes off its debt, the administrator will be revoked". - Guram Chalagashvili, chairman of National Energy Regulatory Commission assures.
In 2005 KazMunayGaz acquired perishing Tbilgaz for mere USD 12.5 mln investing nearly USD 200 mln in it afterwards. By this spring it turned out KazMunayGaz-Tbilisi had USD 40 mln of liabilities. The owners were explicit about their gradually maturing desire to get rid of the loss-making asset. However the Georgians didn't wait for the sale and accelerated debt collection by appointing the temporary administrator to the company.
A few days ago KazTransGaz-Tbilisi CEO Kazanji Kayneldiev stated the company was being prepared for sale. According to him in the near future the KazMunayGaz delegation will study the issue of the company's price. Potential buyers are SOCAR (Azerbaijan) and Kala-Capital owned by Georgian soccer player Kakha Kaladze. The Kazakhs also want to make up for the investments in the gas distribution network of Tbilisi.
The following day KazMunayGaz JSC President Kairgeldy Kabyldin specified that it was too early to speak about the sale of Tbilisi subsidiary, RusEnergy reports. However the offers of purchasers will be considered. Kabyldin emphasized that the company was not renouncing the USD 40 mln debt but doesn't understand why Georgians decided to recover it so urgently. "We owe USD 30 mln for the received gas and must repay it with the revenues from Tbilisian consumers. Remaining USD 10 mln is our debt to the Bank of Georgia that we must pay back according to the schedule stipulated in the bilateral agreement. But the Georgian side called to speed up repayment which is contrary to the undertakings", - he remarked.
The Kazakh side would not like to bring the conflict to court. But what can be done if Georgia fails on a number of manifested obligations? "They had elections, then the war - that's why they forbade us to raise the gas tariff all the time, - the businessman complains. - Eventually they had financial problems, and the Georgian side urged to cover the debt that we don't deny, but we can't do all that at a time as Georgia asks".
KazMunayGaz CEO contradicted rumors on KazTransGaz expulsion from the Georgian market by Azerbaijani SOCAR. Kairgeldy Kabyldin believes Azerbaijan and Georgia are interested in Kazakh oil transit. As according to him it is more promising than up-to-the minute revenues from KazTransGaz-Tbilisi repurchase and KazMunayGaz expulsion from Georgia". Besides, the sale of gas distributing networks to Azerbaijan is unprofitable to the oil and gas state corporation. The Azerbaijani owner will surely exclude the Georgian state mediator from the gas purchase scheme.
Kabyldin couldn't be blind to the fact that KazTransGaz-Tbilisi losses had drastically increased due to the growth of SOCAR gas entry price. "If SOCAR company wants to help Georgia why is it selling gas for such tremendous money? With Russia and Ukraine arguing over USD 280 per 1000 cubic meters, SOCAR sells gas to Georgia for USD 400. There is not such a price anywhere", - he said resentfully. However as early as in spring Georgia's Minister of Energy Alexander Khetaguri stated that KazTransGaz CEO was misinformed. According to him KTG-Tbilisi purchases social gas from Azerbaijan for USD 167 per 1000 c.m. and commercial gas for USD 265- much lower than Gazprom's tariff.
It is impossible to understand who is better informed. It seems though that the Kazakhs have unconsciously shed light on a gravy train for officials. Not without reason statements and exposures of the Kazakhs arouse fury of the authorities.
A couple days later after Kabyldin's interview Mikheil Saakashvili came down on the Kazakh investors. One of the victims was an unnamed company that purchased Likani health resort, destroyed the derelicts and suspended works leaving lots of workers at a loose end. "Their projects in Tbilisi and Batumi are equally ineffective. They bought hotels there and paid such a beggarly sum to the evicted refugees that they couldn't even buy homes on it". - Saakashvili was thundering threatening to discuss the behavior of the Kazakhs with their president.