The general plan of the installation of gas services of the Republic of Khakassia, located in the south of Eastern Siberia, has been long outdated. However, there is still no money for implementation of a new one. This conclusion was made by the All-Russia People's Front after an exchange of messages with Gazprom and the Ministry of Energy recently.
The mains gas can be provided to the republic in the following way: Novokuznetsk, the Kemerovo region – the Vershina Tyoi urban-type settlement, Khakassia – the town of Sorsk – Abakan, Khakassia’s capital city. In June, the All-Russia People's Front sent an official request to Gazprom and the Energy Ministry asking them when the laying the pipeline would start eventually. The other day, the region’s authorities received an answer. Firstly, the current general scheme for the gas infrastructure development in Khakassia was designed back in 2009. Therefore, it needs to be updated and overhauled. Secondly, if the houses of the republic's inhabitants are heated with gas, their owners will literally go bankrupt. According to Gazprom's estimates, the fees for public utilities operating on mains gas will go up several times in Khakassia. In addition to paying for the pipeline itself, the consumers will have to buy different distribution equipment. In this case, the reduction of coal production, which, as is commonly known, is number one industry in the region, will deal a blow to socio-economic situation in Khakassia.
Of course, Khakassia might look for private investors. However, this scenario is unlikely to be successful given the expenses for construction. Even rough estimates suggest they will run into tens of billions of rubles.
In this respect, the situation in Khakassia is identical to other regions that are not connected to the main gas networks. For example, the neighboring Krasnoyarsk territory or the republic of Tyva. There are the master plans for the provision of gas supplies there but no funds for their implementation. Neither Gazprom nor the Russian regional governments have the monies. However, the situation in Krasnoyarsk might be better, as the federal authorities decided to revise the route of the Altai gas pipeline (also known as Power of Siberia 2.) According to the updated version, it will pass through the Krasnoyarsk territory to Mongolia. Theoretically, it is possible to “add” an offshoot to Khakassia. All the more so because earlier, Vladimir Putin issued an instruction to speed up the installation of gas supply services in the regions where they are not provided yet. However, it is difficult to say how long this process might take. Moreover, experts are also skeptical about the construction of the Power of Siberia 2.
“The western part of China is not so densely populated,” says Stanislav Mitrakhovich, an expert of the National Energy Security Fund. “In terms of production and economic potential, it cannot be compared with more developed regions of China. Therefore, large volumes of [natural] gas are not in demand there. Additionally, the laying of pipelines from Central Asia is gradually beginning there. So, chances are there will be an inevitable competition with them. The question arises whether Russia will be able to convince the Chinese they need this gas pipeline.”
Ecology is one of the main reasons for changing over to gas. Coal production generates a large amount of atmospheric emissions.
“Some towns of Khakassia are included in list of the Russian urban areas with the highest level of air pollution,” explained representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Khakassia. “Various factors, including geographic location and climate features, affect the quality of the air. The circulation of atmospheric layers in the Khakass-Minusinsk Hollow is disturbed. It leads to air stagnation. Along with furnace heating and boilers, there are also a growing number of vehicles and industrial facilities that pollute the atmosphere. In particular, coal mines. However, the level of pollution decreases during the warm seasons when the enterprises continue operating in the same mode. Provision of gas supplies of the region could drastically change the situation for the better. However, the question remains open.”
“The government of Khakassia which is responsible for developing the project of installation of gas services, does not seem to be working on it,” Yevgeny Mamaev, the head of the National People's Front in Khakassia, told wek.ru. “We live in the hollow paying too heavy a price with our health for the fact that Khakassia is a major consumer of coal. Transition to gas is not likely to lead to a decrease in the output of coal in Khakassia and some negative social and economic consequences, as Gazprom claims. After all, mostly all heat sources in the region use imported lignite fuel. Meanwhile, almost all the local power generating coal is exported.”
For the record – there is the Minusinsk coal basin in Khakassia with the reserves of over 5 bln tonnes. SUEK and Russian Coal are the largest companies there. The industry accounts for about 20% of the republic's industrial production.