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Nov 5, 2021
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Ukraine on the eve of an energy crash

Before the onset of winter, developed and rich countries are concerned about low reserves of all types of fuel, record prices for it and are calculating crisis scenarios. The shutdown of some energy-intensive industries has already begun.

In this context, the situation in Ukraine gives especially many reasons for concern. Since late summer, the media have been full of reports that gas is practically not pumped into Ukrainian gas storage facilities, and the accumulated reserves are one third less than last year. The situation with coal reserves at thermal power plants was not in the best way.

The market prices for these energy carriers (gas and coal) turned out to be unaffordable for Ukrainian power engineers, and it was decided to resort to a wait-and-see strategy with the expectation that prices will fall by the fall in summer (although usually the opposite happens) and then either make the necessary purchases or try to pass winter on what is.

Optimists said that the accumulated stocks and the usual volumes of supplies, provided that the winter is not very cold, will be enough. And nevertheless, the Ukrainian government since November 1 mercifully did not extend the ban on the import of electricity from Russia and Belarus, which was once adopted in a patriotic frenzy.

Ukrainian traders were happy to book transit capacities in full, but the head of the Rada’s profile committee Andriy Gerus said: “There will be no electricity imports from the Russian Federation since November 1, Inter RAO announced an auction for the sale of electricity on October 20, but on October 21 the corresponding auction was cancelled. Also, from November 1, there will be no electricity imports from Belarus, the corresponding auctions for the sale of electricity have been canceled. “

And a few days earlier it became known that Russia had stopped exporting steam coal to Ukraine on November 1 (about a third of Ukrainian needs were provided by Russian exports). “The decision was made due to the growing demand for power-generating coal grades. In the autumn-winter period, it is necessary to pay special attention to meeting its own needs within the country, ”said the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia.

We will not delve into the question of how these decisions are connected with the events in the area of ​​the Staromaryevka village on the demarcation line in Donbass, including the use of the Turkish Bayraktar drone by the Ukrainian military. Let’s note something else: they violate the entire energy balance of Ukraine for the coming winter, drawn up with such difficulty in Kiev. Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko has already announced that Kiev will not turn to Moscow to resume supplies of thermal coal; they say, the falling volumes will be compensated by purchases in Kazakhstan, the USA and South Africa.

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However, these countries will not make allowances for poverty to Ukraine (let me remind you: to the request of the European allies to increase LNG supplies, the American government replied that it had no right to tell private companies whom to sell their products to). In addition, in the face of high demand, almost all of the coal to be mined in the coming months has been contracted. Emergency purchases can mean a very exorbitant price, and you also need to charter the ship’s tonnage (carbohydrates do not wait for the client, like cabbies at the station). In any case, it takes a lot of time to bring coal to Ukraine from other continents.

Amsterdam announced its intention to return to the former colonies of Holland objects of culture and art taken out during the era of Dutch colonialism and placed in museums in the Netherlands.

Serious problems in the Ukrainian energy sector will begin in December. However, already on November 2, Ukraine requested emergency assistance from Belarus in the amount of 500 megawatts from 14.00 to 21.00, that is, during peak hours. The experts explained: “This is not a planned event – it is unrealistic to foresee in advance where it will break. If the dispatcher sees that the frequency is dropping in the network, he gives the command to load additional units at domestic stations, and only if they are not able to quickly turn on, decides what to do – limit consumption (that is, disconnect from the power supply) or request emergency assistance in order to The state of emergency was not felt by ordinary consumers – neither business, nor people “

Such a procedure is stipulated by the existing agreements with Belarus, and assistance was provided (however, the payment for the supplied electricity was at the “emergency” tariff). It is understood, however, that such assistance is provided only when available. In this case, 500 megawatts were provided, and Ukraine would like to buy 1,000 megawatts from Belarus and 2,000 from Russia, and on a regular basis.

The data on the website of the Ukrainian Ministry of Fuel and Energy show that just at this time the production of renewable energy sources fell sharply (due to calm weather). And it is extremely significant that there was not a single thermal generation unit ready for launch in the reserve. But winter has not yet begun, in Ukraine there is a very warm (and calm) weather for this time.

Shusha today

The slavish willingness to “be in trend” of fashionable Western trends has become the reason for the hypertrophied development of unpredictable alternative energy, which, as before in the West, failed at the most inopportune moment. The blockade of Donbass initiated by the ultrapatriots in 2016 disrupted direct supplies of coal from there, and at the same time allowed the oligarchs to fill their pockets well on the corruption scheme “Rotterdam +”.

The “rejection of Russian gas” advertised by Poroshenko also worked, which Zelensky could not refuse. Now, instead of guaranteed to receive gas in the required volumes and at an affordable price, Ukraine finds itself in a de facto gas blockade, which it has organized itself.

As you know, Gazprom scrupulously fulfills its contractual obligations to European consumers, but is in no hurry with regard to additional volumes. Given the winter conditions and gas shortages in Europe, it is unclear whether the European “gas suppliers” for Ukraine will be able to distinguish anything from the volumes that go to them through the Ukrainian GTS, according to the current transit contract.

Even if it is possible to find the required volumes of coal and gas on the market, the question arises of paying for them at current prices. The Ukrainian government, fearing a social explosion, has already announced a moratorium on the increase in heating prices this season (let’s see how it will be implemented), that is, the Ukrainian thermal power industry will operate at a loss.

And commercial consumers, utilities, social enterprises already have to purchase gas at prices not provided for by any budgets, which leads to stoppages of industrial enterprises and searches for reasons to close social facilities.

In general, wherever you go … Lack of coal at power plants and extremely vague prospects for electricity imports will not allow meeting the demand for electricity, and the shortage of gas does not make it possible to use it to replace coal. There is also not enough gas for direct heating.

Rolling blackouts, interruptions and stoppages in the work of industrial enterprises, cold houses and schools, kindergartens are almost inevitable. And this will turn into problems for Zelensky and his camarilla that are much bigger than another patriotic Maidan, which they are so afraid of.

The combination of political and economic crises, infrastructural collapse, can push the far-reaching processes of Ukraine’s disintegration. And the “project Ukraine” will then disintegrate at an extraordinary rate.

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