A switchover to payment for the consumed gas in energy units instead of cubic meters will not give answers to all consumers’ questions and will not increase consumer confidence in gas suppliers. At the same time, it will eliminate the unfair “leveling” and consumers will pay for the actually consumed kilowatt-hours of energy. This was stated by experts and representatives of gas companies at a discussion held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Calorific value of gas is normal, but combustion energy can vary
According to experts of the public company “Ukrmetrteststandart”, who conducted an independent monitoring of the quality of natural gas in 16 regions of Ukraine, all indicators (the percentage of methane, nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, indicators affecting the calorific value) vary a bit, but within standards. Similar statements were made by gas suppliers. “All sampling tests confirmed the quality of gas throughout the chain, from the source to the consumer,” noted Pavlo Kyshkar, technical director of “Kyivoblgaz” company. Maksym Bilyavksyi, public relations manager, “Ukrtransgaz” company, reminded that they regularly check and publish quality passports. He also stressed that the company has no facilities to change the gas composition.
Petro Raiter, professor, PhD in technical sciences, head of the Chair of Energy Management and Technical Diagnostics, Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil & Gas, said that the combustion energy of gas depends not only on its calorific value, but also the conditions of combustion: the ratio of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the place where gas is burned, pressure in the network, and even technical specifications of a cooker. But de facto consumers still receive gas of slightly different quality, although within the standard, but pay the same money for it, and this situation must change.
What legislative changes have been elaborated?
Oleksandr Kosianchuk, head of the Directorate for Natural Gas Market Regulation, Department on regulation in oil & gas sector, National Commission for state regulation of energy and public utilities, said that Resolution 84, which will be the beginning of transition to new rules, has been approved and is being prepared for official publication. It obliges operators to develop routes for transmitting gas with the same physical and chemical parameters and provide free access to all the data so that consumers know what they burn. Also, the bills will provide information on the size of a ratio applied to standard conditions (if the gas metering unit does not do this automatically), the size of the average high heat of combustion over the billing period, and the amount of energy of the consumed natural gas (by three measurement units: kilowatt-hours, Gcal, MJ). Thus, the consumers can determine which energy source is more advantageous for them.
The main obstacle to the switchover is that the technical regulations on gas composition, which will be the basis for quality control, have not been developed yet. “I think, if all market players, independent experts and public authorities join their efforts, we will be in the homestretch in the near future and consumers will pay for natural gas in kilowatt-hours,” said Oleksandr Kosianchuk.
What will change after the switchover?
The definite advantages include the fact that consumers will know the calorific value of the consumed gas and pay for the actually consumed energy. “The developed routes will be published by our colleagues from the distribution companies and will be based on our routes. The consumer can see the gas transportation route, starting from his apartment up to the power plant […]. That means, he can track the route from the point where a physicochemical analysis was made, who made it, when and how […]. The consumer can refer to the certificate and compare this value with the calorific value he receives,” noted Mykola Bolkhovitin, head of Department on Metrology and Gas Measurement, “Ukrtransgaz” company.
This will motivate consumers to care about energy efficiency, because they will be able to compare the cost of this energy volume with the volume of electricity and gas. The companies will neither benefit nor lose from the change-over to the calculation in energy units. They will have to spend more on metrological work, but in the consumers’ tariffs it will comprise tenths of a percentage point.
However, some questions to the suppliers remain open. Oleksiy Khabatiuk, deputy head of Energy Efficiency Department, NJSC “Naftogaz Ukraine,” noted that in case of changing-over to the calculation in kilojoules the consumers will have the same meters. That is why only operators of gas distribution networks will be able to count and convert volume units into energy units. Many questions may also arise about adjusting gas volumes to standard conditions (temperature, pressure, etc.). After adjustment to standard conditions, the consumed amount will be higher in winter, because gas has a lower temperature and volume in winter than in summer. Consumers can check these calculations independently, according to the Technique of adjusting natural gas volume to standard conditions based on readings of the household meters in the absence of gas temperature and pressure measuring devices [detailed explanation – in video starting 58:55]. The experts noted that this practice is the norm in the developed countries.
The experts stressed that it is necessary to explain all these details to consumers to avoid their mistrust and new hoaxes.