Kazakhstan resumes power exports to Russia after 16 months break

By bne IntelliNews March 18, 2016

After 16 months of suspension Kazakhstan has resumed exports of electricity to Russia as the second power generation unit at Ekibastuz GRES-2, a power plant in Pavlodar Region, was brought online and the power plant was given a discount on transmission charges, Samruk-Energy said on March 17.

The main reason for halting electricity exports in November 2014 was devaluation of the Russian ruble against the Kazakh tenge, which made Kazakh power exports unprofitable as contracts were nominated in rubles. Only after Kazakhstan introduced a free-floating currency regime in August 2015 the situation improved. The sharp depreciation of the tenge brought back old equilibrium in the tenge/ruble exchange rate – current rate is more or less in line with the level in the third quarter of 2014. Meanwhile, the restart of Kazakh electricity exports to Russia became more financially attractive due to an exclusive 28.8% export tariff discount granted to Ekibastuz GRES-2 by Kazakh antimonopoly authorities on March 8.

The decision was taken due to a dire financial situation at Ekibastuz GRES-2. The company suffered a loss of RUB3.6bn (€46mn) in 2015, according to Russian power company Inter RAO Group which holds 50% of shares in Ekibastuz GRES-2. In February Inter RAO announced suspension of the construction of a third unit of Ekibastuz GRES-2, which was a blow to Kazakhstan’s ambitions to develop the country’s electricity generation capacities. Arguably, the export tariff discount and restart of energy exports to Russia might be part of Kazakh efforts to keep alive the expansion project of Ekibastuz GRES-2.

"Thanks to the support of the Government of Kazakhstan, the free capacity from the Ekibastuz GRES-1 and GRES-2 power stations are being used for export sales," Samruk-Energy CEO Almasadam Satkaliyev was quoted as saying by the company's press service. The company said that Kazakhstan’s power exports to Russia will reach 1.8bn kWh in 2016. The volume of electricity exports of Samruk-Energy to Russia amounted to 2.452bn kWh in 2013 and reached 1.862bn KWh in 2014.

Samruk-Energy is owned by Samruk-Kazyna sovereign wealth fund. The company specialises in generation, distribution and sales of electricity and heat as well as coal production. Ekibastuz GRES-1 is controlled by Kazakhmys and Samruk-Kazyna on a parity basis. Ekibastuz GRES-2 is owned by Samruk-Kazyna and Russian power corporation Inter RAO on a parity basis.

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