A showdown in the style of the 90s is unfolding these days in Mendeleevsk. The network company first went on the offensive against the chemical plant named after. Karpova in court, and then simply cut off the plant, which regularly pays its bills, from electricity, referring to accidents – simultaneously on two lines. And all because of the issue of ownership of power lines, which has been dragging on since Soviet times. The conflict, threatening to disrupt the defense order, had to be resolved at an emergency meeting by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan Alexei Pesoshin, but the consequences of the intimidation action will have to be dealt with for a long time. The situation was understood by “BUSINESS Online”.
Like a chemical plant. Karpov sent to blackout
JSC “Chemical plant named after Karpov” was de-energized the day before at 11:00. Correspondents of BUSINESS Online, who arrived at the enterprise at 15:00, found the plant without electricity and communications. Employees came out of the complex in small groups, who said that they were released early – there was simply nothing to do at the plant. Marat Shamsin, the executive director of the enterprise, who met the BUSINESS Online correspondent, said that “thank you” for the blackout should be said to the Network Company headed by Ilshat Fardiev.
“We took measures to prevent the consequences, which we would then disentangle. The boiler house was shut down. It runs on gas and water supply. As soon as the flame goes out, gas begins to flow into the boiler, and without water, popping will occur. They stopped the furnace departments in the workshops at 7 am, because when the blower is turned off, there will be uncontrolled release of gas, ”Shamsin said about the precautions. The shutdown of the boiler house led to a stoppage of work in all other shops. “The whole plant got up. Fully!” adds Shamsin.
An oppressive silence reigns in the workshops. Due to the shutdown of the blowers, the premises were filled with an unpleasant sulphurous smell. And in another workshop, liquid from the molds had to be drained to the ground in order to avoid its solidification in the apparatus. Some of the reagents are still stuck in the pipes, which will now have to be steamed and cleaned for a long time.
The workers, torn off from the equipment, went to mow the grass and collect garbage on the territory of the plant. The silence was broken by forklifts moving back and forth. “The only thing left to do is transport. Gasoline equipment, thank God, works, we are not dependent on the Grid Company for gasoline, ”the director ironically.
Not only the “Karpovsky” plant came under attack, but also the residents of the TASED “Mendeleevsk” and the fire station No. 86 – they were connected to the network from the enterprise and found themselves in a difficult situation because of this.
How the Grid Company and the Chemical Plant Divide the Grids
What is the reason for the conflict? Part of the power grid infrastructure connecting the chemical plant with the facilities of the Grid Company historically belonged to the enterprise. We are talking about power lines from the Toima-2 substation to the plant, along which two high-voltage power lines stretched. Thanks to it, chemists had the status of a territorial grid organization (TGO), they enjoyed preferential tariffs and received compensation from the Grid Company. It was like this for decades, but at some point, according to representatives of the plant, this suddenly ceased to suit Fardiev, who set the goal of obtaining ownership of the networks.
The negotiations yielded nothing, and the conflict turned into a legal plane: at the end of 2021, Setevaya sent a claim to the plant, and in the spring of 2022, a trial began in the Arbitration Court of the Republic of Tatarstan.
Power engineers demanded to recognize the plant’s ownership of the 110 kV overhead line “Toima-2” – the chemical plant named after. Karpov absent. The defendant rolled out counterclaims – to recognize their ownership of the same high-voltage line with a length of 9.3 thousand meters, consisting of 68 supports, and deprive the Grid Company of ownership of part of the infrastructure.
So far, the advantage is on the side of the power engineers, but in whose direction Themis will eventually turn around, it is impossible to predict. On June 1, 2023, the court of first instance sided with the networkers, but the decision did not come into force, the next instances are coming.
In addition, while the litigation lasted and the property was in the “gray zone”, the chemical plant lost its TSO status and lost the right to an individual tariff. But this decision of the State Tariff Committee of the Republic of Tatarstan is being challenged by the company in arbitration. In turn, the Grid Company has been suing the administration of Rosreestr for the Republic of Tatarstan since May, trying to prove that the chemical plant illegally registered the ownership of a 9,000-meter overhead line on January 10 this year.
From the courts to the knife switch
Civilized litigation could have gone on as usual for several years, but the Grid Company suddenly opened a second front – one might say, a forceful one.
According to the chairman of the board of the chemical plant, Denis Krylov, on June 6, the Grid Company sent a laconic letter to the company’s e-mail with a message that an accident had occurred on one of the two lines that supply the plant from the Toima-2 substation. To eliminate it, you need permission from the factory, it will take 8 days to repair. The factory workers satisfied the application: it is necessary, then it is necessary, eliminate it.
And on the same day a second letter arrived – again an accident, but now on a different, emergency line. This application chemical plant them. Karpov rejected. Then, on June 7, representatives of the Network warned that they would independently turn off the second circuit, suggesting that the chemical plant connect to the temporary line.
“At the same time, we noticed that instead of fixing a malfunction at the substation, the electricians climbed the pole of power transmission line No. 10 and turned off both circuits of our power supply line of the enterprise, transferring them to the substation line at Setyakovo-1,” Krylov said. It’s like jumping the terminals from one battery to another. In fact, they illegally “threw” our wire and powered us to the line of another substation.”
Why did the enterprise not take advantage of the offer to be powered from another line? “We need to figure out the quality of electricity, what if it doesn’t suit us and because of the overvoltage the wires will burn out or our substation will explode. We need a technical connection diagram, other documents, ”Krylov explained. By disconnecting the plant from the grid, the Grid Company violated a number of documents, the most egregious of which are the requirements of the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated April 28, 2023 No. and rules for decommissioning and decommissioning of electric power facilities (approved by Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 86). The management of the enterprise is at a loss: how are relations with the Grid Company regulated now, if the previous agreement is ignored by the power engineers?
“With high tariffs, we become wildly uncompetitive”
But the main concerns are different: will the “temporary” connection to another substation turn into a permanent one? Is the Grid Company trying to resolve the dispute that is being considered in the courts with the help of these manipulations? Having lost its power transmission line, the enterprise runs the risk of receiving new tariffs.
Substation “Toima-2” provides several options for technological connection. Until yesterday, the chemical plant was connected according to the 220/110/10 kV option. However, the Grid Company powered the enterprise for a different type of connection – “110/10 kV” – to the substation “Toima-2 – Setyakovo-1”.
“Tatarstan is the only region in the Russian Federation where the energy grid facilities are not owned by PJSC Rosseti. This allows you to regulate tariffs differently. Now, according to the current tariff plan in the Republic of Tatarstan, the type of connection “110/10 kV” does not differ from what we had – “220/110/10 kV”. But if the republican networks come under the control of Rosseti, the federal operator will “turn on” a tariff 2.5–3 times higher than today’s,” explains Krylov.
The plant spends 48 million rubles on electricity annually. When reconnecting to another point of supply and a hypothetical change in tariff, the costs will increase to 96 million rubles, Krylov fears. “The growth of the tariff is terrible not so much because it will worsen the current situation of the plant, but because it will make our plans for the development of Big Chemistry impossible. It has a high energy consumption, and in the Russian Federation there are other plants with much more favorable electricity tariffs. Also, with high tariffs, we become wildly uncompetitive for China.”
How is Network Company explained?
The press service of the Grid Company took up all-round defense and refused to answer questions from BUSINESS Online.
The power industry partly outlined its position in the official telegram channel. They stated that the actions of the chemical plant them. Karpov jeopardize the reconstruction of the Toima-2 substation (more than 2 billion rubles have already been allocated for it). Substation 220 kV “Toima-2” provides electricity to the Yelabuga, Mendeleevsky and Agryz regions. This, they point out, is a strategically important power supply center for the Kama zone of the republic and large industrial enterprises, including the chemical plant named after. Karpov, JSC “Ammoniy”, NGDU “Prikamneft”, partially SEZ “Alabuga”.
Modernization of “Toima-2”: prerequisites, expectations and advanced technologies
The reconstruction is carried out in stages – without interrupting the power supply to consumers. Now 10 cells of the new 110 kV outdoor switchgear of the 220 kV Toima-2 substation have been installed, which are ready for sequential commissioning with the switching of the existing 110 kV overhead lines from the old cells to them. “For the switching period, in accordance with design solutions, temporary schemes are created to ensure reliable power supply to consumers and allow reconstruction at the existing substation,” the Grid Company explains.
Problems allegedly arose only with the chemical plant. Karpov. Since September 2022, network operators have repeatedly sent appeals to the plant about the need to rebuild the 110 kV Toima-2 overhead line – chemical plant named after. Karpov (the first and second circuits), as well as the temporary withdrawal of one of the circuits of the 110 kV Toima-2 overhead line – the chemical plant named after. Karpov (one or two circuits) for the safe production of work on the re-planting of other 110 kV power lines. “All appeals of JSC “Grid Company” are refused. We believe that by such actions the responsible persons of JSC “Chemical Plant named after. L. Ya. Karpova” create circuit-mode risks and do not allow the reconstruction of the facility in accordance with the planned deadlines. This significantly reduces the reliability of power supply to consumers in the Yelabuga, Mendeleev and Agryz regions,” Fardiev’s company assures.
What prevents to upgrade first one line of power lines leading to the chemical plant named after. Karpov, and then another, without resorting to pretexts with accidents on two lines at once, they do not explain in Network. As well as why it was necessary right now, in the midst of the modernization of the substation, to launch legal wars: they clearly do not add mutual trust to the parties.
By the way, legal battles are going along this front as well. In April of this year, the chemical plant named after Karpova filed a lawsuit against the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Tatarstan demanding to invalidate the resolutions regulating the reconstruction of the Toima-2 substation. On the same day, the plant submitted an application to the Ministry of Construction of the Republic of Tatarstan, in which it asks the department to cancel the construction permit issued to KER-Holding as part of the reconstruction of the substation.
Compromise and guarantees from Pesoshin
Faced with the blackout, plant manager Shamsin sent a letter to Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, Tatarstan Prime Minister Alexei Pesoshin, and Tatarstan Minister of Industry and Trade Oleg Korobchenko. Appeals were also received by the prosecutor’s office and Rostekhnadzor. In the letters, the management of the plant states that since June 6, the normal power supply scheme of the chemical plant has been changed by the unilateral actions of JSC “Grid Company”. “Stopping the power supply to the chemical plant will lead to a man-made accident at work, we ask you to take measures to stop the illegal actions of JSC Grid Company and prevent the interruption of the power supply to the chemical plant,” the company says.
The company sent notices about the incident to the media. “Black Thursday of the ancestor of Russian chemistry,” a letter to the editors of BUSINESS Online came with such a tragic headline. “There are no decisions that have entered into force, which at least indicates the ambiguity of the issue. And now, having no legal grounds, using the “right of a knife switch in his hands”, Mr. Fardiev, for the sake of only him for obvious reasons, decided that the king and god of all in the world in Tatarstan, took and disconnected the plant from electricity. There has never been such a thing with the plant, which has never allowed delays in payments for electricity, even in the hardest 90s,” the letter says.
As a result, the government of the Republic of Tatarstan had to resolve the situation. According to our information, Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan Pesoshin held a meeting the night before, at which a compromise decision was made. According to sources of the publication, the chemical plant was recommended to connect to the temporary line provided by the Grid Company. But at the same time, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan personally guaranteed that after the repair of the substation was completed, the disconnected overhead lines would be returned to the plant. “In the near future, electricity should appear at the plant,” Krylov confirmed this information. “We were promised to restore the entire broken power supply scheme.”
“We will recover damages through the courts”
Nevertheless, already now the damage is only to the chemical plant named after. Karpov are estimated at 150 million rubles. They consist of loss of revenue, the need to restore and repair equipment, since chemical processes cannot be stopped without consequences. “We will lose customers who are refocusing on Chinese suppliers,” Krylov added.
Now the enterprise produces up to 30 types of inorganic chemistry products, some of which are used for defense purposes. The chemical plant is the only Russian manufacturer of a number of pharmaceutical substances: sodium thiosulfate, magnesium sulfate, calcium chloride, the company is preparing to import-substitute the production of barium sulfate and sodium bicarbonate. Now drug manufacturers will be forced to buy this pharmaceutical raw material in China and India, which means that prices for drugs in pharmacies will increase, the interlocutor of the publication fears.
“We will recover damages through the courts,” the chairman of the board warned.