In 2019, Gazprom won the tender for the contract put out by the UM and the TU Eindhoven together. “We are not the only ones, many other government bodies and municipalities also receive their gas from them,” says Ronald Wilmes, head of real estate. The contract runs until 2025. The past weeks, legal experts have looked into whether the university could break the contract before that date. It appears to be a rather tricky business.
“If you commit breach of contract, you will have to pay compensation that is equal to the amount of turnover the company loses out on,” Wilmes explains. “That means that you pay Gazprom after all, while they are no longer obliged to deliver. In addition, the question remains whether you can find a replacement supplier. Many energy companies are not taking on new customers or only at exorbitant prices. Then you run the risk of ending up without gas. Finding a new supplier would take at least six months anyway, because we are compelled to put out a tender. And even then you can’t be sure that you won’t end up with Russian gas. Just like Gazprom, other suppliers buy their gas on the world market, and as a customer you don’t know where it comes from. The national government therefore advises not to break contracts too hastily, as it is possible to defeat the object.” In short, the university will stick with the contract.
As far as prices are concerned, the UM is not badly off with Gazprom. The UM can set the price four times a year. “Moments when you lock the price,” says Wilmes. “That makes us less vulnerable when there are tremendous price fluctuations, as is the case now. But no matter what, the price will go up. We have taken that into account in the budget, but we have also said: this is our best guess. Who knows what the prices will do in the time to come?”