British Expert to Chair Ukraine’s Naftogaz Board
12 January, 2018

The former Director General of Britain's Office of Gas Supply (Ofgas) has been chosen to head Ukrainian Naftogaz’s new supervisory board, established late last year as part of the energy giant’s reform efforts.

The state-owned gas monopoly announced on January 12 that British citizen Clare Spottiswoode was elected as chairperson of the new board at its first meeting on December 22.

Spottiswoode served as Director General of Ofgas (now the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) between 1993 and 1998, during the breakup of British Gas and gas market liberalization in Britain. She also worked as an economist for the government's economic and finance ministry, HM Treasury.

In November, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers approved the appointment of six new independent directors, after all but one quit the board earlier in 2017 over blocked reform efforts and government meddling in the running of Naftogaz subsidiaries Ukrtransgaz and Ukrgasvydobuvannya.

Alongside Spottiswoode, France’s Bruno Lescoeur, America’s Amos Hochstein, and Canada’s Steve Haysom were selected as international appointees to the independent board of directors. Additionally, Oleksandr Hrytsenko, chairman of the Ukreximbank board, and Serhiy Popyk, advisor to the Ukrainian Prime Minister, were appointed to the board as Ukrainian representatives.

Finally, Volodymyr Demchyshyn, Ukraine’s former Energy and Coal Industry Minister and the board’s deputy chairman since April 2017, retained his position.

The board is tasked with de-monopolizing the country’s natural gas market and driving reforms at Naftogaz, which include unbundling Ukrtransgaz. Under the plan, Ukrtransgaz will be broken off from Naftogaz and then split into two companies — one to manage gas transit and the other to manage gas storage.

The November appointments received approval from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which has been providing the energy company with loans to purchase gas on the condition of corporate restructuring.

Naftogaz has been plagued by corruption for years but has recently taken significant steps towards reform. The results are already visible. Naftogaz has gone from running a deficit amounting to six percent of the country’s GDP in 2014 to contributing 10 percent of state budget revenue in 2016.

/By Natalie Vikhrov