Gas crisis in Murmansk


There is a critical situation with gas in Murmansk Oblast, leader of a regional gas distribution company writes in an open letter to President Medvedev.


Leader of the company Murmanoblgaz Aleksandr Chernenko in an open letter to President Dmitri Medvedev underlines that the gas situation in the region is “critical” and that as many as 256,000 people in the region soon cold face “an uncontrolled shutdown of gas supplies”.

I am forced to address You in the interests of the 256,000 people in the region and the 750 employees of the Murmanoblgaz”, Chernenko writes in the letter, RIA Novosti reports. “At present, there is not sufficient gas in the region and the Murmanoblgaz does not have the financial means for its acquisition and there is not a single person in the Murmansk government able to improve the situation”, he adds.

The letter, which was made public on Monday this week, strongly criticizes Governor Dmitriyenko and his team for having triggered the crisis. Mr Chernenko has repeatedly warned that insufficient financing could lead to shutdowns. Last week, several houses were left without gas, and supplies were restored only after the intervention of the Prosecutor’s Office.

As a result of the action, or lack of such, by Governor Dmitriyenko and First Deputy Prosecutor Khusaynov, an uncontrolled mass shutdown of gas supplies could take place in few days”, he stresses, adding that “consequences will be unpredictable”.

According to Chernenko, the main reason for the situation is the low normative price standard introduced by regional authorities in December 2010. That resulted in major losses for the gas distribution company and a subsequent inability to acquire addition gas. After 25 February this year, there has been no normative price standard at all, which has made it utterly impossible to charge the consumers, he maintains.

The only way to stabilize the situation is now to make the regional government grant 25 million RUB for the acquisition and transport of gas, Chernenko maintains, Regnum reports. Experts in the Murmansk regional government are now reportedly assessing the letter and considering a response.

Unlike most Russian regions, Murmansk Oblast is not connected with the Russian national gas pipeline grid. Gas is supplied to the region in the form of LNG transported with railway from production facilities in central Russia. Gas fields in the Barents Sea are planned to become the source of a major gasification in the region. However, this is unlikely to happen before after year 2020.

Heavy oil is the main source of heating in the region, while gas in private homed is used for cooking. Despite the gas and heating problems, Murmansk Oblast is a net producer of electric power. The Kola NPP and a number of hydro power stations are the main sources of the electricity.

As reportedly by BarentsObserver, there have been several serious cases of heating problems in Murmansk Oblast, among them in the Pechenga Rayon, the municipality bordering on Norway and Finland.

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