December 4, 2018 / 1:34 PM / 10 days ago

Crimea power stations in sanctions row may face new delay

MOSCOW, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Russia may delay until March the official launch of its power stations in Crimea, the stations’ engineering firm said, the latest hitch to the plants where Russia is accused of installing German-designed electricity turbines in contravention of sanctions.

The company, Tekhnopromeksport, said it had requested the launch be pushed back until spring, citing issues with the supply of key equipment, problems with subcontractors as well as infrastructure.

Russia began building two power stations on Crimea to provide electricity to the peninsula which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014, but the facilities became embroiled in a row over sanctions.

German engineering firm Siemens says Russia clandestinely delivered several of its turbines to Crimea despite European sanctions which ban the supply of energy technology to Crimea.

Russia’s energy ministry says the turbines were not from Siemens. It said they were modernised turbines that were the work of Russian specialists and Russian equipment.

German prosecutors are investigating three Siemens employees over the incident.

Tekhnopromeksport said the first stage of the power stations will be ready by the end of this year, but that it had requested that the launch of the second phase be delayed until to March.

A spokesman for Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak confirmed a possible delay. The energy ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Russia has already delayed the launch several times. It officially pushed the date back to Sept. 1, but when the first station did not launch on time, the date was delayed to October.

The stations’ first power units began to supply electricity to the market in October and its official opening date was November, the Russian energy ministry has said.

The second phase was meant to start on Oct. 1 at the power station in Sevastopol and on Nov. 1 at the one in Simferopol, according to a government decree. (Writing by Tom Balmforth Editing by David Evans)

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