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    Senior trading executive quits Naftogaz


The departure is the latest in a series, which has been viewed with alarm by many institutions in the West – but not all.

by: William Powell

Posted in:

Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Corporate, Appointments, News By Country, Ukraine

Senior trading executive quits Naftogaz

A senior director of Naftogaz Ukrainy Willem Coppoolse has resigned a year after joining the company as the head of Naftogaz Trading, the company said May 21.

The designer of the company’s trading strategy, he ran the work of this division in very complex market conditions and laid the foundations for a modern trading company following the European model.

His position will be filled temporarily by Otto Waterlander, the COO of the Naftogaz group. Waterlander thanked Coppoolse for his contribution to the company’s development and said the company would develop and expand its trading activities.

There was no explanation for his departure or any comment from him in the statement announcing his decision. There will be therefore some speculation that he was not happy with the recent developments at the company.

At the end of April, the government suspended the supervisory board while it sacked the CEO Andriy Kobolev, triggering the resignation of the chair of the supervisory board along with some or all of its members. Kobolev was succeeded by acting energy minister Yuri Vitrenko, raising serious questions of corporate governance.

Talks with these board members were ongoing with the government at time of press, a week after their resignations were due to take effect.

At a press briefing at the end of April, Vitrenko said he had talked with senior executives about their futures but did not comment on any decisions.

A change for the better?

However not everyone took the upheaval in the same way: the head of the Energy Community Secretariat, Janez Kopac,  sees now an opportunity for the company to become more market-oriented. The secretariat, which works with countries outside the European Union that aspire to follow its rules, has taken a hard line in the past to the government of Ukraine.

He told NGW May 20 that his organisation "always had excellent co-operation with Naftogaz and with Mr Vitrenko. After the successful unbundling, for the Secretariat the most important step is further liberalisation of the gas market through a gas release programme, offering domestically produced gas by subsidiary Ukrgazvydobuvannya to all wholesale traders in the country – including Naftogaz – under the same conditions.

"Mr Vitrenko supported such further step in the creation of a functional gas hub in Ukraine in the past and reconfirmed his reform orientation in the new position of CEO of Naftogaz. Naftogaz, having a dominant market position, was until now opposing such a reform step.

"A gas release program with a functioning gas exchange would bring full confidence of market participants to Ukrainian gas market reform and the Secretariat is looking forward to see this decisive step taken," Kopac said. 

Vitrenko appeals to western capitals on Nord Stream 2

In an open letter May 20 to Washington, Brussels and Berlin, Vitrenko and members of parliament appealed for sanctions to be imposed on Swiss Nord Stream 2 AG. It reminded US president, Joe Biden, of his earlier statement that Nord Stream 2 must not be completed. It said the pipeline would make Europe more dependent on Russia and destabilise Ukraine. Ukraine receives payment from Russia for shipping its gas to Europe. NordStream 2 could be completed this summer.