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Imports of coal to Ukraine to pose risks to consumers, says expert

August 22, 2014, 21:45 UTC+3 KIEV
Energy and Coalmines Ministry says the current reserves of coal can keep the country’s thermal power plants operational for 50 days at the very best
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© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Shipenkov

KIEV, August 22. /ITAR-TASS/. Assessments made by economists and the expert community show that production of coal on the mines in Donbass - East-Ukrainian Donetsk Coalfields, the Ukraine’s main energy-resource producing area - are rolling downhill and stand at present at 30% of the minimal required level, a leading Russian analyst said Friday.

On this background, the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Coalmines said Friday the shortfall of the national production of coal would be compensated by imports - a measure that might pose new risks for the energy sector and for consumers, the analysts said.

The very idea to begin imports is not devoid of rationality, Alexei Grivach, a deputy director of the Fund for National Energy Security told Itar-Tass. He does not rule out an unavoidable surfacing of big technological complications, however.

“Thermal power plants in Ukraine were designed to burn coal of a certain category, which is mined in the east of the country, and this means that the imported coal should also be of the same category,” Grivach said. “If it doesn’t, this means Ukraine will have to modernize the plants for a different category and this will require considerable investment.”

“In the meantime, there’s a big question about the degree to which the Kiev authorities will be able to modernize them,” he said.

Grivach recalled the presence of one more problem linked to complicated logistics and the absence of a proper infrastructure for the deliveries of coals to thermal power plants, adding to it that imported fuel would be more expensive and would put a supplementary burden on the economy.

“If the Kiev government fails to resolve these problems in the short term, additional economic risks for the energy sector and energy consumers are very likely to emerge this autumn and winter when Ukraine goes through the cold months of the year,” Grivach said.

Energy and Coalmines Ministry says the current reserves of coal can keep the country’s thermal power plants operational for 50 days at the very best. As the countries where coal might be imported from, Ukrainian sources have named New Zealand, Australia and, possibly, the U.S.

The ministry has been scrutinizing the possibility of organizing supplies for the past several months.

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