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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chubais Complains About Gas Shortages

Unified Energy Systems chief Anatoly Chubais on Tuesday lashed out at Gazprom over ongoing shortages in gas supplies to power stations and said the gas monopoly's reluctance to liberalize prices was to blame.

The criticism, made at a Renaissance Capital investors conference, was among the strongest Chubais has made about Gazprom, and came after the International Energy Agency predicted Gazprom would be unable to meet its international supply commitments unless it invested more in new fields over the next few years.

"I cannot recall that happening in the past eight years of my work," Chubais said, adding that many power stations were currently forced to curb their gas consumption due to the shortages.

"We understand that subsidized prices are behind this," he said, adding that the pace at which Gazprom planned to raise gas prices -- by 15 percent next year -- was not fast enough.

"This situation is categorically incorrect, taking into consideration that the country is facing a real gas deficit," Chubais said.

Analysts have previously voiced concerns that delays in reforms at Gazprom could have a domino effect on the power industry.

Gazprom owns 10.5 percent of UES and more than 25 percent of Moscow's biggest utility, Mosenergo.

Semyon Birg, a utilities analyst at Finam, said that while Chubais had criticized Gazprom before, "this was the first time he voiced it so articulately."

"He's not just displeased. He's even proposing to hike gas prices ... to solve the problem with the gas supply."

Gazprom on Tuesday defended its policy, and suggested that UES should use other types of fuel if it ran short.

"In the past two years, until last winter, we gave UES as much gas as it wanted," Gazprom deputy CEO Alexander Ryazanov said, Interfax reported. "Last winter ... there was not enough backup fuel at many power stations and gas deliveries were everyone's only hope."

Chubais' criticism came as he was presenting UES plans to hold share issues in generating companies as part of its planned $90 billion overhaul of the country's aging electricity infrastructure.

"It would be right for the country's electricity if strategic investors appeared in at least two to three companies," Chubais said, adding that he would prefer them to have a controlling rather than a blocking stake.

Chubais said UES would consider candidates for share issues from a shortlist including wholesale generating companies OGK-3, OGK-4 and OGK-5, as well as regional operators Mosenergo and TGK-9 at a board meeting Friday.