August 3, 2015

Ukraine's Being not Ready for Winter: Catastrophy or Bungling?

Bohdan Sokolovskyi

At an expanded meeting in Kharkiv July 31, 2015, the state of affairs in the Ukrainian Energy Engineering was called catastrophic by the Prime Minister. At the same time, great attention was paid to the supply of and payment for gas and electricity. Quite objectively were discussed the problems of shortage of coal for thermal power plants and CHP which is produced on the temporarily occupied territory. Unfortunately, at the meeting they did not have time for the nuclear power industry and the oil industry. It is hoped that the situation in these spheres will be objectively analyzed on Monday, August 3, because these industries also need urgent measures to be taken for gradual getting rid of dependence on Russia.

In a word, the conclusion is sad — Ukraine is not ready for the winter. And that's a fact.

However, it is worth pointing out that in late July — early August, it is too late to declare the alarm because it will be difficult to seriously change something in the energy sector for the coming autumn-winter.

In this context it is worth recalling that, in particular, Ukrainian experts back in the early spring of this year (and in some areas even before) almost unanimously drew attention to these problems and pointed to solutions. After all, there was still time for the necessary actions.

In particular, they pointed out that the lack of anthracite coal is difficult to compensate by imports from afar, because Ukraine, apart from money, does not have the maritime infrastructure for the delivery and discharge of large amounts of black gold. Nor has it money to purchase the coal.

Attention to this problem was also drawn by the Poles, whose thermal energy industry is thriving without anthracite coal. Even for Poland's President's visit to Ukraine in April, the official Warsaw allocated 50 million Euros for the retrofit of our power plants, so that they, apart from anthracite, could effectively burn coal from other regions, such as Dnipropetrovsk, Lviv-Volyn, Polish coalfields and so on. However, Ukrainian officials, in particular the Ministry of Energy and Mines, and all those involved in these industries, unfortunately, did not pay attention to it. As a result — there are two options: either to buy coal from the mines in the occupied areas of Donbass, or — from Russia.

But back in February-March this year, it was proposed to develop a State target program and to begin its implementation on the retrofitting of our thermal power plants with the aim of giving them a choice: either Donbas coal, or some other.

The same can be said about gas. After all, we have done nothing to implement the so-called "great reverse" in order to stop buying Russian natural gas. Besides, since September 2014 we have done nothing to contract with a non-Russian gas supplier in Europe (and so on, and so forth).

The same is true about the nuclear power industry. We live for the day and do not do anything to get rid of dependence on Russia.

The problem of dependence on Russia in oil products is very sharp. Here, the only effective measure could be a modern petrochemical complex in Ukraine, which has been talked and written about many times, and in 2006-2008, all the details of its creation had been developed.


Ukrainian consumers of petroleum products would very much benefit now, when on the world oil markets there appears cheap Iranian oil! And without our own petrochemical complex we will continue depending on Russian oil refineries or refineries receiving oil from Russia, and will constantly fear deficit of petroleum products, which can cause uncontrolled growth of prices of them and, as a consequence — a significant people's discontent.

Of course, all these problematic questions should also be considered in the plane of the national interests and security of our state.