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PM Shmyhal says coal shortage is resolved

December 17, 2021 6:08 pmby Sergiy Slipchenko
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Darnytska heat power plant is seen in Kyiv on Feb. 17, 2018. (Wikipedia)

Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced on Dec. 17 that Ukraine's coal shortage has been resolved.

The statement came after a months-long energy crisis in Ukraine and contradicted some of the recent reports that emerged in the country.

Shmyhal said that Ukraine now extracts and imports 2 million tons of coal per month with a consumption of 1.7 million tons per month, citing information provided by the Ministry of Energy.

However, according to the state electricity grid operator Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s power plants had just 451,000 tons of coal, four times less than what had been planned by the government, as of Dec. 13. Out of Ukraine’s 85 thermal power blocks, 19 were stopped due to a shortage of coal as of Dec. 13, Ukrenergo said.

In a letter sent to the government on Dec. 8, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reportedly warned the authorities that thermal power plants are only "one step away" from shutting down due to a critical lack of coal.

The SBU believes the situation could lead to a state emergency, threatening internal security.

The report shows that none of Ukraine's thermal power plants currently have the legal minimum coal reserves. There is concern that they may not be able to operate through Ukraine's "heating season."

According to the SBU, Ukraine's total coal stockpiles are at one-third capacity, with only 459,000 tons available compared to 1.3 million tons the previous year.

Worldwide shortages of coal have made it exceedingly expensive and difficult to acquire. In 2021, Ukraine has spent a total of $2 billion on coal imports, 60% of which were from Russia.

However, Russia stopped exports to Ukraine on Nov. 1. Russia also blocked rail deliveries of coal to Ukraine from Kazakhstan.

The Ukrainian government is considering converting thermal powerplants to operate entirely on gas, but the bill is still in the draft phase.

One thermal energy plant in the northern city of Chernihiv has already switched to natural gas, a local news service reported on Dec. 14.

In mid-November, President Volodymyr Zelensky promised that the state would ensure no one is left without heat or electricity. He claimed Ukraine has sufficient coal and will have seven additional shipments of coal delivered to maintain supplies.

Two ships carrying emergency coal deliveries to Ukraine have already arrived in Ukraine in late November-early December. According to Rostyslav Shurma, the deputy head of the President’s Office, 150,000 tons of coal were being unloaded in the country’s ports as of Dec. 14.

Ukraine expects seven more ships to arrive by the end of the month, Shurma said.

Sergiy Slipchenko
Author: Sergiy Slipchenko

Sergiy Slipchenko is a staff writer at the Kyiv Independent. He studied at York University in Toronto, Canada and worked as a reporter at the Kyiv Post.