Gas industry in trouble The state lost a source of money, from which hundreds of millions flowed to him every year

Znovu ide o veľa. Stojíme na vašej strane, formujeme verejnú diskusiu a chránime hodnoty. Ak chceme konzervatívny hlas v spoločnosti zastupovať ešte výraznejšie, potrebujeme vašu pomoc.

Uvedomuje si to aj väčšina našich čitateľov,
ktorí nám práve dnes, 15. deň v mesiaci, posielajú najviac pravidelnej finančnej podpory.
Ak bola na Slovensku firma, pri ktorej bolo spoľahnutie na to, že skončí rok v pluse a na daniach odvedie štátu poriadny balík peňazí, bola to spoločnosť Eustream, ktorá prevádzkuje plynovod vedúci cez celú krajinu.

Since its inception, after the division of SPP into several companies, it has always achieved hundreds of millions of profits, and there was nothing to indicate that, that something should change.

The business model was very profitable. The gas pipe was built back in the days of deep socialism and its maintenance required relatively low costs. Russian gas companies, as well as their customers paid fees for transportation through our territory. V roku 2020 for example, Eustream achieved sales of almost 750 million euros and profit 360 millions.

However, the latest annual report showed, that a reliable company fell into a loss for the first time, which achieved more than 12,6 million euros.

The result is not really surprising, it is a direct consequence of the war in Ukraine and the related restrictions on the consumption of Russian gas.

Shortly after the Russian invasion, the countries of the European Union decided to reduce their energy dependence on Russia, which was achieved relatively quickly thanks to the booming LNG terminals. A cursory look at the figures on gas transportation through Slovakia is enough.

In the accounting year from August 2019 until July 2020 Eustream shipped almost 61 billion cubic meters. Between years 2022 a 2023 that was only a few 17 billion cubic meters. The transported volume was thus reduced to one third.
The state has a 51 percent stake in the company, the rest is controlled by the EPH group of Czech businessman Daniel Křetínský. The state treasury thus benefits several times over from Eustream. On the one hand, the company pays high income taxes, at the same time, however, it regularly pays dividends from profits to the state. She paid taxes last year 111 million euros, in the year 2020 even more than 150 millions. For a long time, Eustream was at the head of companies paying the highest taxes.

The amount of dividends paid depended on the profit, however, it normally reached a value of two hundred million a year.

In addition, Eustream is also subject to a special levy from regulated industries, from which the state flows more money.

Falling into a loss will cost the state dearly, it loses an important source of income.

To, that Eustream has been considered a reliable cash cow for many years, proves that too, that at the beginning of this year the deputies wanted to introduce another special tax, through which they would cover part of the expenses associated with the energy crisis.

According to the proposal of deputies from OĽaNO (today the Slovakia movement) Eustream was supposed to pay six thousand euros for each kilometer of pipeline started, whereas the tax should be paid on a monthly basis. This would translate into a monthly payment of more than 14 million euros.

Eustream reacted immediately and warned already then, that due to the decrease in transportation, this tax would bring him to a loss. In the end, the tax did not translate into reality, however, the company ended up with a loss of several million even without it.
As the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Eustream Tomáš Mareček summarized in his speech at the beginning of the annual report, "the economic results were affected by the lower demand for transport capacities and at the same time the negative consequences of the failure of part of the expected income, which are dependent on the amount of natural gas actually transported".
Until recently it could seem, that the volume of gas flowing from Russia could possibly increase somewhat with the positive development of the situation in Ukraine, however, the latest statements of the head of the Ukrainian gas carrier indicate the opposite.

The head of Naftogaz Oleksij Chernyšov stated in an interview for Radio Liberty, that Ukraine since 2025 will stop transporting Russian gas to the West. The current transit contract with Gazprom will expire at the end of next year.

Chernysov said, that Ukraine would withdraw from the contract earlier, since Gazprom does not pay, as he should, however, it continues to be transported because of that, that several European countries continue to depend on Russian gas.

Černyšov made similar statements in an earlier interview for the German portal Deutsche Welle, where he stated, that Ukraine will not be able to extend the current contract, and called on the European Union, to choose the path of complete shutdown of Russian gas.

If it really came to that, it would have significantly negative consequences for Eustream, since Russian gas makes up the vast majority of the transported volume.

Company spokesman Pavol Kubík, however, considers any development forecasts from the year due to the uncertain situation 2025 too complicated. "As for the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine after a year 2024, we think, that this matter is still not closed today, and will probably still be the subject of future negotiations," he stated.

At the same time he added, that there are possible solutions to the situation, which would also be acceptable for Ukraine. Revenues from transportation bring considerable financial resources to its state treasury. "One of several possibilities, how to achieve this, could be a tripartite agreement, within which a third party would receive gas at the Russian-Ukrainian border and further transport it to the EU," he explained. Technically, Russian gas would no longer pass through Ukraine and Gazprom would not pay for the transit, but another company.
Alternative options

In any case, the end of supplies from Russia would not necessarily mean the end of Eustream, the company has invested in the development of the existing infrastructure in recent years. Through the Slovak gas pipeline, gas can also flow from the west to Ukraine or from Polish LNG terminals further south.

In addition, Ukraine plans to expand gas extraction on its territory. If she decided to sell it abroad, it would most likely flow through Slovakia.

According to the Chairman of the Board Mareček, Eustream wants to continue diversifying its activities outside of the gas industry. "We have the ambition to gradually prepare our network for hydrogen transport and thus enable the connection of areas with expected production potential with places of future hydrogen consumption," he states in the speech in the annual report.

However, this is the music of the future for now. The reality of the coming years will probably take the form of distorted and low sales, if any profits at all. It will also hurt the state coffers and the new government, which will find it even more difficult to find money to implement its plans.



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