Anthracite coal from South Africa or natural gas from Russia’s Gazprom? Energy security, keeping Ukrainians warm through winter 2014-15

Keeping Ukrainians Warm in Winter 2014-15 (Concept by Steppes in Sync)
Keeping Ukrainians Warm in Winter 2014-15 (Concept by Steppes in Sync)

Will Ukrainians come out of winter season 2014-15 unscathed? What about the almost 300,000 internally displaced persons or over 5 million people living in  areas directly affected by the conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, a population vying for constant attention from the government and the international humanitarian missions that descended on Ukraine as soon as the situation in Ukraine’s east deteriorated quickly since the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in March 2014?

As of September 1, over 4,5 million tons of coal were stored by major consumers and suppliers in Ukraine. Natural gas shortage and the disruption in Donbass operations at 80% of Ukraine’s coal mines have translated into a monthly deficit of ca. 1 million tons of the anthracite-group coal. While port imports in Ukraine have the capacity to cover only around 400,000 tons per month

To live through the winter without a trouble, by early October Ukraine must store underground 20 bn m3 of natural gas. Currently Ukraine’s underground storage facilities contain over 16 bn m3 of natural gas (51% of total capacity). Whereas Germany’s (22 bn m3) and Italy’s (17,4 bn m3) underground reservoirs are over 90% filled.

By end of the heating season, Ukraine plans to purchase 6 bn m3 of gas from the EU. This would help to live through the winter without having to rely on Russia’s Gazprom, the largest extractor of natural gas in the world. In June 2014, the Russian company put gas supplies to Ukraine on hold because of the outstanding debt for earlier deliveries, estimated by Gazprom to be USD5,3 bn. Ukraine’s monthly capacity in reverse supply of gas from the EU countries is 1 bn m3.

Will South African anthracite coal be of help? A total of  one million tons purchased by the Ukrinterenerho, a foreign trade parastatal.

It is estimated that in the next 12 months Ukraine will cut down on gas consumption (to not go over 45 bn m3) by turning frugal and because of the slowdown of the country’s economic growth  — by at least 10% – and considering Ukraine’s own production of 18,5 bn m3 (counting out Crimea) and reverse supplies of gas from the EU that can reach up to 15 bn m3.

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