© RIA Novosti / Stringer
Minister of Community and Territorial Development of Ukraine Oleksiy Chernyshov said that “the state of preparation of the regions for the heating season is 80 percent,” and the dynamics of preparation “corresponds to the recommended indicators and schedules.”
This was done against the background of a drop in coal reserves recorded in August at the warehouses of thermal power plants and thermal power plants, which in no way corresponds to the schedule of its accumulation. And against the background of warnings from thermal workers from different regions of Ukraine about the threat of disruption of the heating season.
In addition, the aforementioned Chernyshov said that “tariffs for the population should not be increased,” implying, first of all, prices for heat and hot water. Whereas the Ukrainian government in its official forecast expects their increase by the end of the year by 33%. Utilities and local authorities in different regions of Ukraine say about the same.
Let’s try to figure out whether Pan Chernyshov is right or whether he lives in an alternative reality.
Back in July, we wrote that the preparations for winter in Ukraine are not all right: gas was pumped into storage facilities in minimal volumes, coal in the warehouses of thermal power plants and thermal power plants not only did not accumulate – there were not even plans for its accumulation.
Since then, the situation has not changed much.
The situation is not bad, except for the repair of NPP power units – there is a lag from the repair schedule, but it is not critical. In the best case, by the winter peak of consumption, 13 out of 15 existing power units may be in operation, which is noticeably more than ten that operated in February 2021.
But with coal reserves, everything is very sad, and coal is the work of thermal generation, which performs a balancing function in the power system, without which 13 operating units of nuclear power plants will not help it. Only in mid-August, the Ukrainian government woke up and decided to accumulate three million tons by the beginning of the heating season (previously it was planned to accumulate 1.4 million tons) in the warehouses of thermal power plants and thermal power plants. By this time, there was not even a million tons.
No sooner said than done.
Three weeks have passed, stocks have only decreased – now they barely exceed 900 thousand tons. At most TPPs in early September, coal for a week and a half work. As a result, the Slavyanskaya TPP is standing still, at the Trypilskaya, Pridneprovskaya and Krivorozhskaya TPPs, they operate in one unit and not at full load. The funny thing is that the reduction in stocks is taking place against the backdrop of triumphant reports from the Department of Energy about “the maximum rate of its accumulation.” So if Chernyshov lives in an alternative reality, then not alone, but at least with the Minister of Energy.
There is very little time left to fulfill the plan for accumulating three million tons of coal. The trend for an increase in stocks is not yet visible. At the same time, the price of coal in Europe reached $ 150 per ton, compared with $ 70 in the spring. Ukrainian production of thermal coal is falling, and coal miners cannot even cope with meeting current needs. According to Energy Minister German Galushchenko, for the winter season Ukraine needs to import 3.5 million tons of coal, which will cost more than half a billion dollars for thermal generation. Moreover, most of them must be found in the next two months. According to more pessimistic forecasts, five million tons will be required, which is already $ 750 million.
Gas reserves in underground storage facilities in July-August increased from 16.2 to only 18 billion cubic meters. It seems to be enough – in 2016 Ukraine entered winter with reserves of 14.7 billion cubic meters. But then all this gas belonged to Naftogaz and was planned to be used just in the heating season, and the winter was almost record-breaking mild. Now, out of 18 billion cubic meters, 4.2 belong to private traders – and mainly to foreigners. And another 4.7 billion cubic meters are considered “active gas for long-term storage” and are not supposed to be burned this winter. It is obvious that without the use of either private gas or long-term storage gas, Ukraine will not go through even a super mild winter. And if last year’s winter repeats, the entire available stock may not be enough – even if it is expropriated from private traders.
Of course, there is still a month and a half to replenish the storage facilities, but neither the rates of pumping, nor the prices give cause for optimism. For example, in August the average price of Ukraine’s “non-Russian” gas has already risen to $ 428 per 1,000 cubic meters, and in September it will be even higher. At the same time, European traders who buy blue fuel from Gazprom under long-term contracts, and then virtually supply it to Ukraine, pay one and a half to two times less for it. And those who bought it on the Gazprom Export electronic trading platform at the end of last – the beginning of this year with delivery this summer paid even $ 150 per thousand cubic meters.
Naftogaz, following the tacit instructions of the Ukrainian authorities to ensure gas supplies to supply the population with warmth in winter, offers it to Teplokommunenergo enterprises at UAH 7.42 per cubic meter, excluding delivery. It seems to be tolerable. But only on prepayment, for which “Teplokommunenergo” has no money (the population pays for heat upon consumption), and in strictly limited amounts, which, according to the calculations of Ukrainian heat workers, do not exceed 70-80% of the needs.
The rest is offered to be bought at the market price, which has already exceeded UAH 20 per cubic meter. In such circumstances, either a frantic increase in the indebtedness of thermal enterprises with their subsequent disconnection from the gas supply is inevitable, or a significant increase in heat tariffs for the population, and most likely both. At the same time, according to the head of Naftogaz, Yuriy Vitrenko, the cost of domestic gas does not exceed 2.6 hryvnia per cubic meter. Although, according to experts, it is even lower – no more than two hryvnia.
Summarizing the above, it can be argued that the information of Minister Chernyshov about 80% readiness of Ukraine for the heating season is greatly exaggerated. In fact, everything goes to the fact that the Ukrainian authorities will have to rely on a warm winter and rely on the Russian maybe.
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