KIEV, August 3. /TASS/. Ukraine needs to double energy companies’ coal inventories from the current 1.5 million tons in the next 2.5 months to resolve the problem of mounting coal shortages ahead of the heating season, Ukrainian Energy Minister Vladimir Demchishin said on Monday.
"We plan to accumulate about 3 million tons by mid-October before the start of the heating season," he told a meeting of the anti-crisis energy headquarters.
Kiev needs to receive about 900,000 tons of coal extracted in Ukraine and used for gas production and also 600,000 tons of scarce anthracite grades, the minister said.
"Kiev expects to organize anthracite coal imports from South Africa and the US by sea and also from Russia," Demchishin said.
The Ukrainian Energy and Coal Ministry is working jointly with other ministries and departments on coal supplies from the territories of the Donbas region uncontrolled by Kiev, the minister said.
However, these supplies are delayed due to problems with control of products intended for importation, he added.
Kiev will not buy coal from Donbass coalmines that finance local militia, the energy minister said.
In line with the government’s decision, $94.7 million will be allocated through state-run Oshchadbank for coal purchases, the minister said.
Ukraine’s thermal power plants face mounting problems with coal shortages while energy companies’ coal inventories are declining, Ukrainian Deputy Energy and Coal Minister Alexander Svetelik said on Friday.
The deputy minister who spoke at a roundtable discussion on preparations for the upcoming heating season said the energy companies were required to have 2.7 million tons of coal at their warehouses while the available stocks stood at 1.5 million tons.
"We have contracts but coal, anthracite coal is not supplied," Svetelik said.
According to the deputy energy and coal minister, Kiev is no longer receiving anthracite coal supplies from the uncontrolled east Ukrainian Donbas region, and also from Russia and some other suppliers.
The problems with fuel supplies have forced Ukraine to halt all contracts for electricity exports while two units of the Burshtynskaya thermal power plant have had to switch from work for European consumers to the Ukrainian domestic market, the deputy energy minister said.
The Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Ministry is currently deciding on switching three more units of this thermal power station to work on the Ukrainian energy market, he added.
When asked if rolling electricity blackouts could repeat as was the case during the last heating season, the deputy minister said no such measures were planned but the ministry had developed a relevant methodology.
"Hour-by-hour blackouts are not envisaged at all, if coal is supplied," he said.
The Slavyanskaya thermal power plant located in the Donbas region on the territory controlled by Kiev halted its generating capacities over the shortage of coal, Donbasenergo power utility reported on Friday.
"Today, the staff of the Slavyanskaya thermal power station had to halt its generating capacities. The reason is traditional: the absence of fuel [coal] or, to be more exact, the impossibility to ensure its regular supplies to the electric power station’s warehouses," the Donbasenergo press office said.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on Friday during a working trip to Kharkiv "the situation in the energy sector is disastrous."