The head of Rosneft and the executive secretary of the presidential commission for the fuel and energy complex Igor Sechin, who back in March actively supported the growth of coal exports to the east on a “take or pay” basis, in a new letter to the government asks not to infringe on the interests of other industries. The priority for coal, he believes, will create risks, including for the shipment of oil cargo. According to analysts, in addition to the rise in coal prices, which has intensified competition for the infrastructure of the BAM and Transsib, the change in position may be due to the fact that, in general, the creation of a paid mechanism for priority export of cargo has become less relevant.
Igor Sechin, executive secretary of the presidential commission for the fuel and energy complex, sent a letter to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on June 17, proposing not to give priority to coal when exporting goods through the infrastructure of the Eastern landfill (Kommersant saw the document).
On March 2, Vladimir Putin ordered to increase the export of coal from Kuzbass from the current 53 million tons per year to 68 million tons per year in 2024 (see Kommersant on March 3). To ensure this, Russian Railways and coal miners were instructed to conclude long-term agreements on the principles of mutual responsibility until July, be it “take or pay” or its equivalent.
But around the new system of contracts, and above all around the idea of introducing priority access for their parties to the infrastructure of the Eastern Test Site, disputes flared up – about discrimination against other users, inequality of responsibility of the parties and the scale of application of such a mechanism (see Kommersant, March 26 and 29) …
It is proposed to distribute these volumes between coal miners on the basis of their conclusion of investment agreements with Kuzbass, part of which may become a commitment to invest in non-coal projects in the region (see Kommersant dated March 5).
Igor Sechin entered the discussion on increasing the export of coal to the east at the very beginning. In his address to the President, he wrote about the need to implement the decisions of the Fuel and Energy Commission of 2018 on a sharp increase in the export of coal along the BAM and Transsib, asked not to redirect freight traffic to the south, and also spoke about the readiness of coal miners to take-or-pay conditions and the effectiveness of such contracts (see Kommersant dated March 16).
But in a new letter, Igor Sechin argues that the adjustment of regulation should not give any priority to shippers of coal products: “When regulating such transportation in the eastern direction, there should not be potential risks that routes traditionally demanded by large shippers, which are no less important for the states of the economy, in particular the oil industry enterprises, which do not conclude long-term contracts on “take-or-pay” terms, will be inaccessible to them, given the congestion of the routes ”.
The document states that “the approaches proposed by the Ministry of Transport and JSC Russian Railways go beyond the instructions of the President of the Russian Federation, misinterpreting them, create the above risks and violate the basic principles of the functioning of commodity markets in the Russian Federation.”
The letter, according to the resolution, was forwarded to First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov and Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev. In the secretariat of Mr. Belousov, “Kommersant” was redirected to the Ministry of Transport, where they refused to comment, as in Russian Railways. Rosneft did not answer Kommersant. A Kommersant source familiar with the situation says that the issue of transporting coal from Kuzbass in the coming days may be brought up for a meeting with the president.
The head of Infoline-Analytics, Mikhail Burmistrov, believes that changes in Igor Sechin’s position may be associated with a changed market environment: coal prices are at their highs, so market participants have increased shipments to levels that exceed the infrastructure capacity during the summer track works. Oil companies are already having problems, and Rosneft, which at the end of 2020 entered into a long-term agreement with Russian Railways on volumes in exchange for discounts, is experiencing “reasonable concern about the stability of shipments.” The expert adds that, given the intensification of work on the BAM and Transsib and improved control over the use of their carrying capacity, the need to create a mechanism for paid prioritization of shipments is no longer so obvious.