Analysts point at problematic areas in Ukraine’s energy sector as well as suggest possible solutions that address the issues. Increased transparency and open data are key.
Experts of analytical center DiXi Group named top 5 “black boxes” of the Ukrainian energy sector. They include coal supplies from the occupied areas of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, import of oil products as well as activities of state-owned oil and gas companies. “Black boxes” also include activities of regional gas distribution companies (oblgaz in Ukrainian) that keep supplying gas and operating networks on monopoly terms. Besides municipal heating companies (teplokomunenergo in Ukrainian) are not providing sufficient information on how the bills are formed. Experts envisaged the problems at a press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
“We have defined about a dozen of areas in which we either know that a certain manipulation is in place and thus no exact data is available or where the information is not complete or closed,” noted Roman Nitsovych, Program Manager at DiXi Group. Analysts identified the problematic areas having analyzed publicly accessible information, frequency of mentions in the media of the problems as well as based on the data provided by experts and journalists.
As per the official data Ukraine gets about nine million tons of coal from the temporarily occupied territories annually. “Numerous journalistic investigations show that this raw material is crossing the contact line in a not fully transparent way. The coal is often supplied from the occupied territories through the aggressor state,” noted Nitsovych. “We would also like to have more information on how the balance of coal is formed, how it will look like in future and what steps are being made to achieve that.”
As to the imports of fuel there are doubts as to how transparent the customs clearance is. Activities of Ukrnafta (oil and gas extracting company) as well as its tax debt payment are the ones that raise most questions when it comes to Ukraine’s gas companies. “Information on this tax debt has not been disclosed. Last publicly voiced debt figure was reported by media last summer – it exceeds UAH 15 billion,” Nitsovych reminded.
Joint efforts as the only way to enhance transparency
Enhancing transparency in the energy sector will help clarify the situation in these areas. Transparency will allow seeing where money and other resources are used inefficiently or illegally. It will be the first step towards quality decisions. “We are trying to achieve this through fruitful cooperation and by developing initiatives that aim at making data public. We also support targeted journalistic investigations,” Nitsovych noted. “To achieve that, efforts of just one of the actors will not be enough. Civil society, journalists, government and all interested stakeholders need to team up,” emphasized Olena Pavlenko, DiXi Group president. Reports of the Extraction industry transparency initiative (UAEITI reports) are a positive example of such cooperation.
Experts are drafting the “map of energy sector”
Anton Antonenko, DiXi Group vice president, said that an interactive map of the energy sector will be created as part of the Transparent Energy project. Industry experts, civic actors and journalists are working over the project. “The map will show key routes [of energy resources] and interlinks between them. We also plan to introduce ‘data layers’ that will be formed from open source data. This tool will help understand and analyze the dynamics and trends in numbers,” he said. The map will be available in a few months.
Roman Nitsovych also noted that next week the second competition of journalistic investigations will be announced. More detailed information will be available from DiXi Group and Ukrainian energy («Українська енергетика») web sites.
Up to 50 types of data by Energy Ministry to become open before March 2017
The second initiative in the framework of the project is about opening the data of the Ministry for Energy and Coal Mining. “We have agreed with the ministry that about 50 types of data will be opened before March 2017. It is quite a step ahead compared to the current situation,” Pavlenko said.
“We call on everyone to use this data, analyze it, make your own conclusions as well as share it. It is published to satisfy the needs of the civil society,” she added. Oleksiy Gladkov, head of the information and analytical department at the Ministry for Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine, said that the ministry intends creating a separate platform to publish the open data of the sectors the activities of which they coordinate. “We will place data on the data.gov.ua web site as required and will create our own resource,” he said. “The Ministry would like to implement the project as quickly as possible, to present the necessary data to the civil society and demonstrate that we are open.”
DiXi Group president said that reform of adjacent sectors comes as the next step so that “if an investor or any other citizen will face a problem, they will have enough tools to solve it quickly and up to the standard.”