- Ending a two-year boycott, Naftogaz will resume purchases of gas from Russia in coming weeks, Andriy Kobolyev, company CEO, told reporters in Kyiv Wednesday. Referring to the Russian gas company’s decision to lower prices after last month’s Stockholm court decision, Kobolev said: "We plan to import gas from two directions. The price which Gazprom is now obliged to set is very attractive. We should take advantage of this economic benefit.” He said Ukraine would probably import 4 to 5 billion cubic meters of gas, an amount equal to one third of Ukraine’s expected imports this year. In Nov. 2015, Ukraine stopped buying gas from Gazprom, but much of the gas Ukraine bought from the EU was actually Russian gas that did a U-turn through a gas hub in Slovakia.
- Working with foreign drilling companies, Ukrgazvydobuvannya, the nation’s largest natural gas producer, plans to double exploratory and production drilling this year, to almost 500,000 meters. At the same time, the state company aims to increase production by 4.5%, equal to last year’s growth, Oleg Prokhorenko, company CEO, told reporters Wednesday. The company plans to increase production in Western Ukraine by 50% through 2025. Turning to Eastern Ukraine, Prohkhorenko blasted Poltava’s regional council for ‘blocking’ his drilling plans.
- GE Renewable Energy will supply 26 wind turbines this year to DTEK’s Primorsk wind energy station, in Zaporizhia, on the Sea of Azov. Catching wind off the sea, the power plant will have a capacity of 200 MW. The turbines are being made in Europe and will be maintained by a GE unit in Ukraine. Scheduled for commissioning in 2020, Primorsk is 45 km east of a second DTEK wind farm, at Botijeve. Also 200 MW, this station uses Vestas wind turbines from Denmark.
- After Turkey and Egypt, Ukraine ranked third among the 37 nations receiving loans last year from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or EBRD. Ukraine received EUR 581 million in EBRD funding, about 6% of the bank’s total funding. Turkey and Egypt each received about triple Ukraine’s amount.
- Another bank, Industrial and Financial Bank, or Promfin, is losing its banking license and closing, the National Bank of Ukraine reports. Last year, the central bank closed nine banks.
- Satu Kahkonen, World Bank country director for Ukraine, has sent a letter to the Rada and the Presidential Administration warning that a bill on the anti-corruption court must be brought into line with international expectations or Ukraine risks losing $800 million in World Bank aid this year. The letter echoes concern in a similar letter from the IMF country director that the court would not be independent. In response, Iryna Gerashchenko, first deputy chairman of the Rada, told the Freedom of Speech TV program that she expects the Rada to approve the bill in March. She said: "There are certain comments, including ones from our international partners. And now it is in the hands of the Verkhovna Rada to finalize it, to make it perfect." Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “The Western establishment has found the Achilles Heel of not only the Poroshenko administration in its campaign of resisting reforms, but the entire Ukrainian oligarchy…[Poroshenko] won’t allow Western officials to fully determine the conditions of the anti-corruption court.”
- Ukraine’s three major mobile operators have agreed on terms for tender to extend 3G and 4G into the Kyiv Metro, Kyivstar President Petr Chernyshov, writes on Facebook. Kyivstar, Vodafone and lifecell hope faster cell speeds could be installed in the metro one year from now.
- One third of Ukraine’s villagers, half of schools and almost all medical facilities do not have access to high speed broadband internet, Stepan Kubiv, Minister of Economic Development and Trade told the Cabinet Wednesday. Unveiling a 3-year plan for “the development of the digital economy and society,” he said a priority is to extend broadband Internet to 80% of the national territory by 2021.
- EBRD will loan Nibulon up to $50 million to build river terminals and a river fleet, to buy a reloading crane and to expand its main Black Sea terminal, in Mykolayiv. One of Ukraine’s largest grain operators, Nibulon seeks to save money and increase delivery reliability by shifting its logistics from rail to river. Japan joins the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in financing what is to be a 2-year, $140 million project.
- Growers of grapes, berries and fruit will get government compensation for 80% percent of their new planting stock this year, Prime Minister Groysman told the Cabinet on Wednesday, Interfax reports. Southern Ukraine is rebuilding grape production after the loss of Crimea in 2014. Exports of fruits and berries to the EU are rising.
- To rebuild dairy and beef herds, Prime Minister Groysman promises subsidized loans at 3% interest for the opening of new ranches and dairy operations. Last year, as herds dwindled, milk and meat prices rose, contributing to inflation. The Prime Minister told the Cabinet: “I want to build new farms, start new livestock herds. We will support, including, genetics, production of both meat and milk.”
- Ukraine’s trade deficit more than doubled to $5.2 billion through November, according to the State Statistics Service. Imports were up 27.5% yoy, while exports lagged, growing 20.6%. On the import side, the two big variables were: energy up 52.5% and vehicles up 43.8%. On the export side, mineral products were up 48.8% and overall exports to the EU were up 30.4%. Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko writes: “Given the much wider goods trade deficit in 2017, we see the 2018 deficit touching the $7 billion mark…The widening trade deficit will create further devaluation pressure on the local currency this year.”
- TransferGo, a London-based money remittance company active in 45 countries, reports its Poland-Ukraine service almost doubled last year. Magnus Olby, director of marketing for the company, said in a press release: "Last year the amount and number of transfers from Poland to Ukraine through the online service TransferGo increased by almost 100%.” He expects more growth in 2018.
- Construction has started on a three-story, $20 million, steel and glass terminal designed to make Zaporizhia International Airport the gateway to Ukraine’s south east. Last year, traffic at Zaporizhia jumped 26.5% to 348,438 passengers, 10 times the level of 2009. This flow pole vaulted Zaporizhia ahead of its rival, Dnipro, where traffic stagnated at 276,954. With a newly resurfaced runway and service by nine airlines, Zaporizhia now has scheduled flights to Minsk, Tel Aviv, Istanbul’s two airports and Kyiv’s two airports.
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UBJ a.m. is reported by UBJ Editor in Chief James Brooke, a former New York Times foreign correspondent and Bloomberg Moscow bureau chief. For comments and story tips, Brooke is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org