Already this year, the gasification of the capital of Transbaikalia, which is included in the anti-rating of Russian cities in terms of air pollution, will begin, Governor Alexander Osipov recently announced. Nobody seems to have seen the gasification project itself. But the concessionaire of the multibillion-dollar program within the framework of the national project “Ecology” was an unknown company “Avroragaz” from Vladivostok.
On Christmas days, weather conditions of the first degree of danger were announced in Chita, unfavorable for the dispersion of harmful impurities in the air. Simply put, the city was covered with poisonous smog. Local residents complained that “there was nothing to breathe and it was impossible to open the window.”
Similar situations happen in Chita regularly, because this city, located in a mountain saddle, is practically devoid of a free flow of fresh air. And smog here is a frequent occurrence, especially in winter in calm weather. The two old, unmodernized thermal power plants in Chita are constantly emitting clouds of black smoke into the air, and many fuming oil-fired boilers are added to them. Contributes to urban air pollution and road transport.
And of course, the fact that there are a lot of private sector with stove heating in Chita does not improve the ecological situation in any way. Most often, private households are heated in the old fashioned way – coal or wood. Mainly from economy: in Siberian frosts, electric heating is much more expensive. But benzapyrene, an extremely toxic chemical compound with strong carcinogenic activity, flies out of the chimneys into the air. So the local ecology, and with it the health of citizens, has been under constant threat for many years, and Chita regularly takes places in the anti-ratings of the most “dirty” Russian cities.
To solve this problem, or at least significantly reduce the level of air pollution, large-scale gasification, including the private sector, could. But here’s the problem: the nearest sources of natural gas are in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug and the Krasnoyarsk Territory. And in Transbaikalia itself, alas, there is only coal.
16 years of waiting
The Chita authorities tried to solve the problem repeatedly. The epic with gasification began in the zero years. In 2006, the Chita Region signed a cooperation agreement with Gazprom, and in 2007 the Ministry of Industry approved the Eastern Gas Program, which envisaged the creation of a unified system for gas production, transportation and supply. In 2009, the General Scheme for Gas Supply and Gasification of the Trans-Baikal Territory was approved. And so year after year, agreement after agreement, for a long 16 years, this “wagon” remained in place, until in 2021 the Ministry of Energy approved the concept of gasification of the regions of the Russian Federation until 2030. Thus, the issue of abandoning the main natural gas in favor of liquefied gas was resolved. It turned out to be unprofitable either geographically or economically to carry out a gas pipeline from the Power of Siberia pipeline to Chita. And here the most interesting begins.
Last summer, during the SPIEF, the press service of the current Governor of the Trans-Baikal Territory, Alexander Osipov, announced that Gazprombank, Gazprom Mezhregiongaz Far East, East Arctic Oil and Gas Corporation LLC, and the government of the Trans-Baikal Territory signed a four-party agreement on cooperation in gasification private sector of Chita using natural gas liquefaction technologies. The introduction of network gas supply instead of stove heating is carried out within the framework of the federal program “Clean Air” of the national project “Ecology”. By 2024, more than 13,000 private households are expected to be supplied with gas, the estimated total cost is 9.2 billion rubles. At the same time, the concessionaire will have to invest no more than 1.8 billion rubles in the project, the rest will be a contribution from the state.
Already at the end of November it became known that the Avroragaz company from Vladivostok would carry out this large-scale and ambitious project, compared among the people with the construction sites of the Soviet era, in the form of a public-private partnership, that is, a concession. Apparently, this is a well-known company that has enough material, technical and human resources to implement such a serious project? – you ask. No matter how.
The Avroragaz company was registered in September 2021 in Vladivostok, in October 2021 it was included in the SME register as a micro-enterprise, the state has one employee with a salary of 6 thousand rubles. From the moment of its foundation, the former state federal inspector of the Kamchatka Territory Alexander Sharov led it, but since December 5, 2022, Vladislav Shalamak has been the general director. Under his leadership are six more organizations, a sort of serial leader …
The founder of LLC Avroragaz is the aforementioned East Arctic Oil and Gas Corporation, which is headed by Stanislav Neverov, a person who gained fame in Chita because of the unfinished School of the Future under the concession. Evroragaz’s portfolio does not seem to contain a single completed project. However, for some reason, this did not bother the Chita deputies, who on November 24 voted in favor of concluding a concession agreement with this company.
There is one more curious moment. The concession agreement was signed at the end of last year. But, according to Stanislav Neverov, research and design work has been carried out since August, “at risk and peril.” It turns out that Neverov was sure that such a large-scale and financial project would go to his company? Let us add that we were unable to find information that round tables and public hearings were held on such a topical and painful topic for Chita as gasification. And the 9 billion project itself is impossible to find in the public domain.
Money flowed like a river
And finally, on December 30, it became known that the long-awaited gasification of Chita had started. Well, that is, how it started: the city administration transferred 2.5 billion rubles in advance as payment for the concessor. “The rest of the funds will be transferred as they become available next year,” the Ministry of Housing and Public Utilities of the region explained. Is the money (and we are talking about billions of rubles) being transferred under a project that no one knows, it is unclear with whom, and it is unclear who approved a project that no one has seen?
State Duma deputy from Transbaikalia Yuri Grigoriev drew attention to this, to put it mildly, strange situation. In particular, he strongly doubts that Avroragas is able to provide guarantee obligations within the framework of a multi-billion dollar project.
“Well, where do such intermediaries and contractors come from when there are a lot of proven and well-resourced organizations?” – the parliamentarian is perplexed.
The Chita businessman and public figure Yevgeny Kornev, who has long been involved in the topic of gasification, is not enthusiastic about this mysterious project either.
“This is a very serious process that should be evaluated not only from a technical and economic point of view, but also from an environmental and social point of view, because these are people’s tariffs. Therefore, it won’t be possible to solve it like this here,” he says, also perplexed by what is happening.
However, it looks like someone has already decided everything.