The Ukrainian energy sphere’s dependence on Russia

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2014/12/03 • Economy

Article by: Mykhaylo Shtekel

Ukraine will buy electricity from Russia, stated Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Volodymur Demchyshin on Wednesday. He assured that the accident on the third block of the Zaporizhya Nuclear Plant has nothing to do with the nuclear reactor and did not lead to radioactive pollution. However, this accident increased the deficit in Ukraine’s energy system, and now it becomes clear why citizens of various regions had no electricity in the beginning of the week. 

“I can say confidently that at least this difficult situation this is a necessary step to balance the energy system, even though it is politically complex, but it is needed,” said head of the Ministry of Energy and Coal Volodymyr Demchyshin, having announced the intent to buy electricity from Russia.

He did not name exact dates, adding that the decision may be made any day.

In an interview to Radio Liberty, the head of energy programs at Razumkov Center Volodymyr Omelchenko criticized such policies.

“If Ukraine has to buy electricity from Russia, it will be a total failure of the state’s energy policy,” he claimed. “If Russia were a reliable partner, this proposal would have been quite expedient and correct, however, under the conditions when the country is being aggressive and trying to destroy our state, this option can not be viewed as the basis.”

However, Omelchenko admits that if there is no coal at the thermal power plants, buying electricity from Russia is almost the only option to immediately satisfy the needs of the country. The expert did not name the exact volume of purchase, however, according to him, it will be quite big.

Coal supplies at some Ukrainian thermal power plants are nearing critical. According to official reports, at the Zmiyivska, Vuhlehirska, Luhanska, Prydmiprovska, Kryvorizka power plants, the supplies of coal can ensure work for another four days. Besides, the situation is made worse by the renovation of the third energy block at the Zaporizhya nuclear power plant. On November 28, when it was being switched on, an explosion took place. According to the minister, no radiation had escaped.

This was confirmed by Omelchenko as well. According to him, the explosion occurred outside of the reactor zone, and it should be localized or liquidated quickly.

According to Energoatom, the block in Zaporizhya will begin work on December 5.

However, its suspension gave rise to a deficit in the energy system of Ukraine, which led to the lack of electricity in a number of regions, particularly Ivano-Frankivsk, Odesa and Lviv oblasts. On Wednesday Minister for Energy and Coal Volodymyr Demchyshin expressed the hope that such things can be avoided in the nearest future.

When commenting on the situation, Yury Korolchuk, member of the Observer Council of the Institute of Energy Strategies, told Radio Liberty that such problems are expected.

“Russia is the only country we border that has surplus electricity. Others, particularly Romania and Moldova, bought electricity from Ukraine,” noted Korolchuk. According to him, there is no alternative. “Nuclear power plans can technically make more, however there is not enough power on the transmission lines. By the end of the heating season, we will have to buy ten bullion kWatts per hours,” he stated.

Despite this, the expert has questions regarding the procedure of coal purchase – through an intermediary and not state-owned business Ukrinterenergo. According to Korolchuk, one of the businesses which received the purchasing license was created very recently. “It turned out it involves interests of former Minister of Energy Prodan. They got the license quickly within two weeks,” Korolchuk noted.

Another politically contradictory solution may be buying coal from the separatists who control the mines in Donbas. However, the Ministry reported that it only plans to transport coal from state cooperative Vuhillya Ukrayiny in the east. Donbas, where combat is underway, supplied Ukraine with eighty percent of its coal until recently.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Source: Radio Liberty

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  • George

    One must question whether the explosion was a genuine accident or …..?
    Another point, the dubious coal supply contract, cannot this be investigated by the anti-corruption department, if they haven’t all been murdered?

  • Racquel Simone

    Oh, I can just see the RT headlines: “Despite the Kiev junta, Banderite, Nazi, fascists perpetrating ethnic cleansing in East Ukraine, we cannot let our Slavic brothers freeze to death and will generously at a most gracious discount sell them our precious Russian electricity” despite the fact the omnipresent little green men set these wheels in motion.
    Is there no other way than to finance your killers? How demoralizing.

  • Murf

    Ukraine is paying 86 dollars per ton for South Africans coal PLUS transportation. The US has coal for as low as 11 dollars a ton. One of the highest is in my state of Kentucky is 54$ a ton, 32 dollars less. We have mines closing all the time.
    Ukraine is being price gouged!
    Please send some trade rep over here and get a real market price for heavens sake!