KIEV Oct 13 Coal will keep Ukraine's
electricity system running throughout the winter and prevent
electricity outages, the head of the state power company told
Reuters on Thursday, even though stocks are low.
Ukraine used to depend heavily on Russian gas but has had to
find other energy sources since relations deteriorated with
Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Low stocks of coal and all-time low reserves of natural gas
have stoked fears of an energy shortfall over the winter despite
assurances from top officials.
Ukraine depends on thermal coal for more than 40 percent of
its power needs. Nuclear energy makes up at least a half, while
the rest comes from renewable sources.
"Our coal stocks are low, but not at a record low," Vsevolod
Kovalchuk, acting chief director of Ukrenergo, said in his
office in central Kiev.
"Ukrenergo is fully prepared for the winter. The power
system of Ukraine is ready for the winter. The coal stocks in
warehouses are sufficient, taking into account the dynamics of
current supply," Kovalchuk said.
Ukrainian thermal power plants (TPP) have collected 1.76
million tonnes of coal for winter, 300,000 tonnes below the last
year's level, he said.
Ukrainian's TPPs use two types of coal but authorities
almost lost control of production of one of them in 2014 after a
conflict in industrial eastern regions left most anthracite
mines on territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
That caused widespread power cuts in the winter of 2014/15.
Since then power plants have established new supply chains
from areas mostly outside the conflict zone, Kovalchuk said.
"There are no problems with coal production. There were
problems with the delivery but now there are no such problems.
Now the rate of supply of anthracite coal to plants is the
highest possible - about 30,000 tonnes per day," Kovalchuk said.
He said during the winter Ukrainian TPPs needed to burn
around 90,000 tonnes of coal per day, 60,000 tonnes of which is
coal produced in Ukraine-controlled areas and 30,000 tonnes is
supplied from separatist-held territory.
"We don't have any fears - we are not seriously looking at
the probability of blackouts this winter," he added.
Ukraine's preparedness for winter was called into question
this week when it emerged that no more than 14.8 billion cubic
metres (bcm) of gas had been collected in reserves - the lowest
level ahead of winter since independence in 1991.
While the low gas stocks could deplete the heating system,
Kovalchuk said the power grid would be unaffected because
Ukraine has not produced electricity from natural gas since
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Alessandra