Unbundling Estonian Gas: big money, big politics27.04.2012, 12:29
The government’s plan to take over the gas mains from Estonian Gas has created a bitter dispute between the State Audit Office and the politicians who support the unbundling, writes Postimees daily.
State auditiors are openly critical of the government’s plan to unbundle gas mains from the Estonian Gas saying that its impact or pricing has not been extensively studied.
Some Reform Party members such as MP Kalle Palling have expressed doubts whether the State Audit Office has a vested interest in the system. “Perhaps a cooperation agreement with the Russian state auditors?” asked Palling.
The key players in the dispute are Estonian Gas that is partly controlled by Russia’s energy giant Gazprom that supplies gas to the company which then re-distributes it to end consumers.
At present the gas pipelines in Estonia belong to Estonian Gas.
The government is acting on the plan of the European Commission to achieve a situation where gas pipelines are not controlled by gas producers, as part of its wider energy policy.
Estonian Gas has hired lawyers of Sorainen law firm to find arguments that would help to block the unbundling.
While a few months ago Estonian Gas was saying that the whole plan to unbundled the gas system should be shelved, it has now changed tactics and is trying to delay the takeover and ensure that its terms are favourable for the gas company.
One of the partners that Estonian Gas has found in its battle is the Estonian Academy of Sciences that has issued a negative opinion on unbundling efforts.
This was not suprising in itself because Arvi Hamburg, head of the Academy’s energy council, has been an adviser to the Estonian Gas for more than ten years.
Also the Centre Party has now said that they support Estonian Gas and has submitted amendment proposals to the law that seem to be dictated by the gas company.
Centre Party’s support is understandable because they have always been supporting Russian business interests and, as opposition party, their job is to criticise the government’s plans.
The third supporter, State Audit Office, has now entered the fray, taking the side of Estonian Gas. State auditors say that their objective is to force a meaningful debate on the issue and have ministries to come up with comprehensive studies on the subject.