- Russia is funding groups to protest natural gas production in Ukraine, Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev told Channel 5 TV. “It's no secret that Gazprom and Russia are spending money by sponsoring certain forces in Ukraine that block new deposits, gas production, and who lie to the local residents about the environmental consequences, " he said. He cited Kharkiv region where "negative people, who have nothing to do with the local residents, tried to block talks on the development of new sites." According to The New York Times, Russia has funded protest groups opposed to shale gas production in Bulgaria, Romania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Naftogaz is implementing its "20/20" program, a $1 billion a year push to increase gas production by one third, to 20 billion cubic meters, in 2020.
- Naftogaz stands to lose $7 billion over the next four years if household subsidies are extended, Kobolyev told Channel 5. A draft resolution has been prepared that could extend the subsidies through April, 2021.
- By Feb.1, all interested foreign companies are to apply to work as partners with Naftogaz to manage the nation’s massive gas transportation system. The pipelines linking Russia with Europe have an annual revenue of $ 2-3 billion. Memorandums of intent have been signed by: Snam (Italy), Eustream (Slovakia), Gasunie (Netherlands) and GRTgaz (France). A German group also has expressed interest. A management agreement is to be signed this summer. At this stage, Naftogaz is “excluded” from talks, company CEO Kobolyev told Channel 5.
- Azerbaijan, Ukraine’s largest source of imported oil, wants to invest more in energy projects here, the nation’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Azer Khudiyev, tells Ukrinform. SOCAR, the state oil and gas company, has already invested $300 million in Ukraine, most visibly in gas station. The ambassador said: "In the near future, we expect the visit [to Kyiv] of the management of this oil company to discuss with [Ukraine’s] Energy Ministry the prospects for a number of very profitable projects."
- In March, Azerbaijan Trade House will open in central Kyiv, Ambassador
- Khudiyev says. The goal is to promote Azeri investment in Ukraine and bilateral trade. At present, Azerbaijan has a trade surplus with Ukraine, largely due to monthly exports of about 250,000 tons of oil to Ukraine.
- German investment in Ukraine increased by $213 million through September, Ukraine’s Economic Development and Trade Ministry reported Wednesday at the start of the Ukraine-Bavaria Economic Forum. Minister Stepan Kubiv led Ukraine’s delegation to Bavaria, a southern German state with an economy larger than 21 EU states. Strong in auto parts for such Bavarian companies as BMW, 61% of Germany’s $1.8 billion investment in Ukraine is for industry. With an eye to future car markets, Kubiv said it is four times more profitable to make electric cars in Ukraine than in Germany. Through September, Germany-Ukraine trade increased by 27% compared to the same period in 2016, hitting $6.6 billion.
- Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director, said Ukraine should take advantage of the “current favorable external environment to accelerate reforms and transition to stronger growth.” In a statement after meeting with Ukraine President Poroshenko Wednesday in Davos, she said they discussed “the implementation of measures that will pave the way for the completion of the pending review under the IMF-supported program.” Timothy Ash writes: “Don’t see this as a change in the IMF position. Poroshenko still has to deliver Venice Commission compliant law on anti-corruption courts. Key to getting program back on track. Ball in Poroshenko’s court.”
- Sugar exports were up 29% year over year in 2017, hitting nearly 600,000 tons, reports Ukrtsukor, the National Association of Sugar Producers of Ukraine. With the EU market largely blocked by high tariffs and preferences for former colonies, Ukraine’s top five markets were: Sri Lanka, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Sudan and Libya.
- Due to educational mismatch with employer needs, almost half of unemployed Ukrainians registered at the State Employment Service have attended universities, Valery Yaroshenko, head of the service, tells Interfax. In Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhye, the figure is above 80%. Behind the problem, Yaroshenko said, 80% of high school graduates go to universities and only 20% go to vocational schools. In Europe, he said, the situation is the reverse: 70% go to vocational schools and 30% to universities.
- Ukraine’s highest average monthly salaries are in Kyiv – 11,643 hryvnia, or $400. In a second group, Kyiv region, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, Poltava, salaries are $255. Close behind is a newcomer: Zakarpattia, with $231. Valery Yaroshenko, head of he State Employment Service, told reporters Wednesday: “The salary level in the Zakarpattia region began to grow because of the desire of employers to retain qualified employees." Zakarpattia borders on four EU states.
- The State Statistics Service estimates that Ukraine’s population is 42.4 million people, the same level of 1960. Ukraine’s population peaked in 1993 at 52.2 million. The current estimate is not based on a new national census. It does not include the 2.2 million people living in Crimea. Reporting by Ukrinform did not say how the national estimate accounted for the 1.5 million people displaced by the secessionist war in Donetsk and Lugansk. The population of Kyiv – city plus region – was estimated to be nearly 3 million. Skeptics say that, due to the war, labor migration and low birth rates, Ukraine’s real population is in the 35-40 million range.
- Antonov Airlines has opened an office in Houston, Texas, the company reports. Headquartered at Kyiv’s Gostomel airport, Ukraine’s cargo airline has 13 Antonov aircraft and specializes in ‘outsized’ cargo. A few days ago, Elon Musk chartered an AN-124-100 cargo jet to fly a rocket nose cone across the US for his Space X Falcon9 rocket program. Antonov recently also carried Abu Dhabi’s Al Yah 3 satellite from Washington to the European space port in French Guiana.
- Ukraine has the cheapest Big Mac hamburger of all 42 countries and the Eurozone surveyed by The Economist. A Big Mac costs the hryvnia equivalent of $1.64, less than one third of the US price of $5.28. For a Big Mac in Kyiv to be on a dollar parity with New York, the exchange rate would have to go back four years, to February 2014, when it was 8.9 hryvnia to the dollar. For now, Ukraine’s cheap currency boosts tourism and exports.
- UIA passengers at Kyiv Boryspil now are greeted by scales and the invitation to weight their own bags. Passenger who do not want to weigh their bags – or who have overweight bags -- can check their bags the traditional way, at the counter, for a fee.
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