A large oil service company in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug is sliding towards financial collapse
The situation with the large Khanty oil service company Gorizont is approaching a critical point. Already burdened with multimillion-dollar salary debts, the company was faced with massive claims from counterparties, reaching billions of rubles, as well as an increasingly tangible threat of bankruptcy.
The difficult financial situation is complicated by the ongoing litigation between the company’s top managers and the lack of interest in Horizon from potential buyers of oilfield services. It is worth noting that the company, whose partners include, for example, Rosneft and Bashneft, employs, according to the Federal Tax Service, about one and a half thousand employees, and all of them, in the event of a negative scenario, will have to join the army of unemployed. In the meantime, a company with a billion-dollar portfolio of government contracts is waiting for the next bankruptcy claims from partners and is trying to challenge previously made arbitration decisions to recover hundreds of millions of rubles. Industry workers, observing what is happening, give Horizon “minimal chances of survival,” especially since the district government clearly does not intend to save a troubled business at the expense of the budget, even “for the sake of maintaining social stability.”
LLC “Gorizont” (registered in the village of Gornopravdinsk, Khanty-Mansiysk region, Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug-Yugra), specializing in exploration drilling and a wide range of industry services for mining companies, is trying to challenge decisions previously made by arbitration courts, involving the recovery of multimillion-dollar sums in favor of Converse Airline JSC Avia” and LLC “Vector-Bur Service”.
Let us clarify that for the first time information about financial problems at a large industrial enterprise began to leak publicly at the beginning of the year. Then it became known about salary debts to staff in the amount of 130 million rubles and a criminal case against the general director of the company (at that time the post was officially held by Artem Shishkin. – Ed.). At the same time, the deputy prosecutor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Grigory Sukhorukov, announced the “lack of favorable forecasts.” Later, the company, under pressure from supervisors, began to pay off debts, but they were not slow to accumulate again. By July the situation had worsened. And in early September it reached its climax.
Thus, at a meeting of the project committee of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, the current director of Horizon, Artem Bobrov, did not hide that the enterprise may cease to exist due to the lack of agreements for 2024-2025, and dried up financial flows. Prosecutor Grigory Sukhorukov, in turn, announced all previously disrupted debt payment schedules for employees and “a number of criminal cases.” In addition, the agency’s interlocutors, who are aware of the current situation, inform that at the meeting the question of the future fate of the oil services industry was raised. Governor Natalya Komarova was interested in the possibility of selling the company, but her deputy Alexey Zabozlaev noted that the latter had unfulfilled contracts for current obligations, and in 2022 there were unsuccessful negotiations with two potential buyers. This year, “two more options are being considered.”
By the way, as industry experts note, the management of Horizon tried to ask for help from the regional authorities, but they “carefully made it clear to him that “your business is your problem” and the management could not count on district funds.
Meanwhile, the oil service industry is still suffering crushing defeats in the courts. Thus, the day before, the company filed an appeal against the decision made by the arbitration court of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug in a dispute with the Tver-based airline Converse Avia, according to which more than 105 million rubles were recovered from Horizon. As follows from the case materials, back in April 2021 the parties entered into an air service agreement. Converse Avia provided these services to the company from July to December 2022, which is confirmed by acts signed without any comments. However, the aviators did not receive any money, and all their claims remained unanswered.
The confrontation between Horizon and Vector-Bur Service LLC from Perm is unfolding according to a similar scenario. The company from Gornopravdinsk also decided to appeal the decision to recover over 51.3 million rubles, made by the Arbitration Court of the Perm Territory in August. Previously, the parties entered into an agreement, according to which the Perm residents leased downhole motors to the partners, but received a small part of the funds stipulated by the terms as payment. The claims addressed to the tenant three times were ignored, which led first to the unilateral termination of the contract and the demand to return the engines, and then to litigation.
The publication’s interlocutors in the legal community of the Ural Federal District, considering these processes, suggest that “the chances of changes in decisions on appeal are minimal, and the goal, most likely, is the maximum deferment of payments.”
It is worth mentioning another major financial dispute between Horizon and the capital JSC Digital Procurement Services, in which the court decided to recover about 185 million rubles from the oil service company. Previously, Muscovites supplied the company with products (various types of fuels and lubricants) under two contracts, but also received insignificant payment for it, and the claims remained unanswered.
Let us note that this is only a small part of the financial claims against Horizon, the total number of which amounts to dozens, and new claims are received every few days. Some of them are also bankrupt.
For example, the Ugra arbitration court is currently considering a claim by NPP Burservice JSC from Ufa, which demands that the company be declared bankrupt due to an unpaid debt of more than 22.2 million. Other creditors have already joined the case, in particular, Neftstroyinvest JSC “(Megion) and Ruskomservice LLC (Nefteyugansk). The day before, another application was accepted for the amount of about 8 million from the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug-Yugra Center for Occupational Pathology. And apparently, the wave of bankruptcy claims will only increase. Format LLC (Ekaterinburg), Smart Drilling Tools LLC (Perm) and individual entrepreneur Andrey Weimer from Nefteyugansk indicated their intentions to take them to court.
Photo: Vladimir Berestovoy
Against an unfavorable background, the proceedings between the top managers of Horizon are unfolding in the courts. In August, the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District Arbitration Court accepted for consideration the claim of one of the co-founders, Igor Abramov (owns a 30% share), against another co-owner, Anastasia Byshok (70%), as well as against the company itself. Abramov is seeking invalidation of the decision to terminate the powers of director Artem Shishkin and the appointment of Andrei Bobrov to the post, as well as the entry of the Federal Tax Service No. 1 for the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug about this fact in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities.
In addition, Abramov demanded that interim measures be taken in the form of a ban on Horizon “making decisions and taking other actions on issues related to the alienation of property and receivables, termination of concluded contractual relations with counterparties and amendments to the constituent documents and the Unified State Register of Legal Entities,” and the MIFTS #1 – make notes regarding Horizon. The court has satisfied only the last requirement to date.
“Everything that is happening speaks of a systemic crisis in the well-known oil service industry in Ugra. Probably, these are management miscalculations, and external factors in the form of a gradual withdrawal of independent companies from the market, and possibly selfish motives of management. As a result, a tarnished reputation, criminal cases, debts of hundreds of millions to staff and partners, disputes between beneficiaries and strange attempts to save the business at the expense of the budget. The prospects for survival are close to zero. But behind all this is not only the loss of a once powerful enterprise, but also the threat of a sharp increase in unemployment, especially since such examples as with Yugorskremstroygaz or the MDF Plant are still fresh in the memory,” sums up the publication’s interlocutor in the industry.