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Ukraine declares emergency situation on electricity market due to coal shortage

February 15, 19:12 UTC+3

The government has declared emergency in the wake of an acute shortage of anthracite coal

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© Mikhail Solovyev/TASS

KIEV, February 15. /TASS/. Ukrainian cabinet has supported a recommendation by the ministry of energy and coalmining to introduce provisional emergency situation measures in the wake of an acute shortage of anthracite coal, which emerged after the far-right radicals began a blockade of railways leading to the areas of eastern Ukraine uncontrolled by the pro-Kiev forces.

"A decision has been taken to introduce measures of this kind," Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman said at a regular meeting of the cabinet after reports by Igor Nasalik, the minister of energy and coalmines, the Gennady Zubko, the minister of regional development and construction.

Nasalik said the emergency situation regulations implied micromanagement at power-generating facilities so as to minimize the operations of thermal power plants, which burn anthracite coal.

Priority will be given to nuclear plants while the output capacity of thermal power generating units operating in the so-called hot standby mode, that is, the ones that can be activated instantaneously in case of outage of nuclear power-generating units will reduce to 500 megawatts from 1,000 megawatts.

Nasalik also warmed about the introduction of rolling outages of power supplies that would help to put the production and consumption of electricity in the country into balance.

"Today’s decision will stay in effect for one month (thirty calendar days as of the date of endorsement - TASS) and can be prolonged for one more month," Nasalik said. "This means it will hold effect for not more than two months."

Ukrainian thermal power plans have come to grips with shortages of anthracite coal supplied from coalmines in the areas of Donbass outside of the pro-Kiev forces’ control in the aftermath of a blockade of railway lines. Former militants from the so-called "volunteer battalions" began it with support from the right-wing radical deputies of the Verkhovna Rada national parliament on January 25.

Specifically, the radicals are blocking the railway lines, by which anthracite coal is hauled to the thermal and thermos-electric plants from the mighty coalmines located in the self-proclaimed unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

They claim that the blockade is necessary to plug the channels for an inflow of contraband commodities allegedly trickling into Ukraine alongside with coal.

Nasalik said earlier this week the reserves of anthracite coal in Ukraine totaled 842,000 tons at the moment while the average daily consumption of the fuel stood at 30,000 tons. In practical terms, the figures meant that, depending on the patterns of consumption, the reserve was enough to keep the power generating system in operation for forty or so days.

Nasalik also warned that disruptions in the national electric power grids might begin already in fourteen days’ time.

Nonetheless, Anatoly Vinogrdosky, a coordinator of the Donbass blockade said the radicals would continue their campaign.

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