High level of co-operation
Chairman of JSC Gazprom Board, Alexei Miller, visits Minsk
By Andrey Fiodorov
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has met with the Head of the Russian Holding, Alexei Miller, noting, “In preparing for this meeting, I was surprised to discover that, perhaps for the first time in many years, strangely, I have nothing with which to reproach Gazprom. We’ve paid for everything we have bought from you while you have paid for everything you’ve transported via Belarus. You’ve done everything promised, starting with supporting children.”
He added, “New projects and programmes offered for today’s discussion are certainly of interest to us. Therefore, once again, I can only thank you for your co-operation.”
Mr. Miller praised the present level of collaboration and mentioned plans to advance it, asserting, “There are good trends in our main business concerning natural gas supplies and transit. This year, the volume of supplies to Belarus will rise. The volume of transit will rise, too, primarily via the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline.”
Discussions covered prospects for developing gas transportation across Belarus, including through the construction of the Yamal-Europe-2 gas pipeline. Mr. Miller expressed interest in seeing this project implemented, adding that investments into reconstruction and modernisation of the gas transportation system will also increase. He explained, “The volume of investments should rise by 20 percent on last year. We’ve already worked out a precise programme with the Belarusian Presidential Administration and the Belarusian Government, determining priorities and steps. The same applies to raising the capacity of underground gas storage facilities and the reconstruction of gas distribution stations.”
He continued, “This year, the volume of gas stored in underground reservoirs in Belarus is already higher than last year. A new step will be made next year, raising the volume of maximum daily extraction in winter, as well as the volume of gas stored in underground facilities. As you want us to do, it will increase the reliability and stability of natural gas supplies to Belarusian consumers through autumn and winter.”
The meeting also touched upon the implementation of social programmes in Belarus, with Gazprom’s assistance. Their funding will increase five-fold on past amounts, with most projects focusing on the care of children in the spheres of sports and healthcare. “Today, we’re going to sign a new agreement to sponsor a programme for the early diagnostics of hearing disorders in children. Later on, we plan to continue our work, financing a programme for the early diagnosis of sight disorders,” emphasises Mr. Millar. Gazprom Transgaz Belarus plans to allocate 3bn Roubles for this programme.
Several hours later, an agreement on co-operation between the Health Ministry of Belarus and Chance International Children’s Charity Foundation (founded by Belgazprombank) was signed. This envisages the implementation of a nationwide programme on early diagnosis of hearing disorders in children. In 2013, Gazprom Transgaz Belarus plans to allocate 5bn Roubles as gratuitous assistance for the realisation of this project.
“Our criteria in selecting projects are based on social importance. We determine projects with the Belarusian Government and the Presidential Administration, reflecting public needs,” Gazprom’s Head told journalists after the signing of the agreement. Mr. Miller underlined that Gazprom has promised the Belarusian President and Government to work in the same way as it does in other countries: i.e. socially oriented. Additionally, the company is sponsoring restoration work at Brest Hero Fortress Memorial, giving 15bn Roubles for the financing of the major overhaul of the south-eastern barracks and the setting up of an exhibition. Work should be complete in time for the 70th anniversary of Belarus’ liberation from the Nazis: 5bn Roubles will have been given by the end of the year. Mr. Miller remarks that his visit to Brest Fortress moved him emotionally.
Moreover, Gazprom provides aid to the Orthodox Christian Church. In particular, considerable funds have been allocated for the construction of an Orthodox church building in Polotsk. Mr. Miller is confident that such co-operation will continue in the future.