From November 5, the only producer of electricity in the Luhansk oblast – Luhansk Thermal Power Plant in front-line Shchastya switched to production using not coal, as it was before, but gas. The tariff difference in this case is from $0.06 to $0.18. The reason is Russian blackmail. In fact, because of the three Russian wagons on the sanctions list, the entire population of Ukraine's Luhansk oblast was taken hostage.
Previously, the work of the Luhansk TPP was based on a very simple scheme: DTEK company loaded anthracite coal into wagons at its Obukhovskaya Mine in the Rostov oblast of the Russian Federation and carried it to its own Luhansk TPP enterprise in Shchastya. In April 2017, DTEK's train of 10 wagons, three of which belonged to the Russian Sberbank Leasing company, entered the Luhansk oblast. According to the Decree of the President of Ukraine, the company was put on the sanctions list, and the wagons have not returned to Russia since then. Since the beginning of October this year, Russian Railways does not allow DTEK's coal to enter Ukraine, because the Kremlin does not give quotas for export to the Obukhovskaya Mine.
The point of dispute
"These wagons entered in April 2017 and now continue to be in the territory of Luhansk oblast. The Russian party appealed to us with a demand to return the wagons, but no decision was made on them. DTEK company has offered to buy out these wagons, to provide monetary compensation, since it is between two business entities – DTEK company, which carries its coal to the territory of Ukraine and Sberbank Leasing, which leased these wagons. The Russian party refused", - deputy head of the Luhansk regional civil-military administration Yuriy Klymenko said.
According to the official, the decision of the Russian party may be motivated by the "care" of the part of Luhansk oblast occupied by the pro-Russian armed formations.
"We understand that the point of the dispute is not wagons. It is said in Minsk behind the scenes that the Russian party insists on the supply of electricity to the territory of Luhansk oblast which is beyond the control of Ukraine. There is not enough electricity, which is now in the occupied territory of the oblast. They need an additional source", - Klymenko told.
Let us recall that on April 25, 2017, Ukraine completely stopped the flows with the occupied territories of Luhansk oblast. The so-called "LNR", which was fed by Ukrainian electricity from thermal power plants in Shchastya, had to urgently "pull" a branch from the territory of the Russian Federation. It should be taken into account: the "republicans" paid Ukraine, which gave light to CALO, with a fig and grabbed property, but they had to pay the bills to Russia.
As OstroV's source, close to the "executive branch" of the "LNR" occupation administration, told in turn, the energy situation has recently become threatening. So, at the end of summer 2018, three major failures were recorded at the same time at the coal enterprises grabbed from DTEK in the cities of Dovzhansk (Sverdlovsk) and Rovenky. The reason is troubles with the power supply system and a banal lack of electricity volumes. Separatist media, of course, were modestly silent about it and continue to constantly write about blackouts for the population, allegedly because of repairs. However, according to the source, these are not repairs, but rolling blackouts.
There is no alternative
The only way DTEK can bring coal to the enterprise is railway branch from Russia. There are no other options for the railway service. This branch is now blocked by Russia. There are also no options to transport coal by trucks. Theoretically, it is possible to drive a train with imported anthracite to Rubizhne, and then transport it by truck to Shchastya more than 80 kilometers. However, taking into account the needs of TPP, it will be necessary to build an eight-lane autobahn with a continuous stream of cars – fiction in general. The only producers of anthracite – DTEK's mines in the occupied territory of Luhansk oblast – are grabbed by the militants. So gas is the only way.
"We are forced to switch to gas after November 5. In the case of such a switch, the price per kilowatt will rise from $0.06 to approximately $0.18. We addressed the National Commission for State Regulation of Energy and Public Utilities with a request for compensation for the difference in tariffs, so that the population of the oblast was not affected. There is already an instruction from the Prime Minister, this issue has already been raised at a government meeting. There is a government decision to provide us assistance. There is an intention to force the bureaucratic apparatus to do everything as quickly as possible. There is no alternative except gas. Either gas or back, to launch coal from the territory of the Russian Federation. A decision on compensation for the difference in tariffs will be made approximately on November 7. We should receive gas quotas at Naftogaz before it", - Yuriy Klymenko comments on the situation.
However, there are options, but in the distant future. We are talking about the construction of a new Kreminska substation, what will make it possible to connect the Luhansk "energy island", which depends only on the work of the Luhansk TPP, with the unified energy system of Ukraine. Talking about the project started back in 2016 for the first time. Since then, the media of Luhansk oblast constantly quote local officials about the need, beginning and even inevitability of construction work, except that the Luhansk officials do not decide this, but the initiator of the construction – Ukrenergo National Power Company. Theoretically, powerful power lines will be connected to Kreminska - 500 kV Donbas-Donska and 220 kV Kreminska-Yubileyna. Then – from Kreminska to consumers. In real life, the project is now ready and the contractor is defined, and tree branches are being cut in the territory of Kreminna and Popasna districts so that they do not interfere with future power grids.
The theoretical date for the introduction of non-existent station into operation was called the first quarter of 2018. Later, they moved the date several times, and now they are talking about the end of 2019. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the project of construction and allocation of money in the amount of almost $70 million only on September 26 this year. There is an opinion that the process is hampered by the inconsistency of positions of Ukrenergo and several ministries – of ecology and energy. The ecologists wanted an examination, and the experts in energetics in the person of minister Ihor Nasalyk in April 2017 voiced the possibility of introducing "technical solutions that will provide the Luhansk oblast with electricity" without the construction of Kreminska. In any case, almost a year left for the Luhansk oblast to live in the "island" mode.
What if blackout?
If the Luhansk TPP stops, it will be joylessly for everyone in winter and even in summer. As noted in the Luhansk energy association, it will be necessary to apply schedules of consumer constraints, but it will still not be able to solve the problem: the actual maximal deloading of electric networks by using these blackouts schedules will not exceed 155 MW, which is only 75% of the forecasted power shortfall.
Applying blackouts schedules in full during the heating period will be complicated by the fact that energy facilities of heating networks – boilers and pumping stations – will inevitably be cut off.
"For reasons that are not dependent on the Luhansk energy association with the above-mentioned emergency mode of operation in the network of 6-110 kV, the power company simply will not be able to guarantee a reliable and high-quality supply of electricity in the northern part of Luhansk oblast. Such a situation will inevitably lead to an aggravation of social tensions in the region and complete collapse of energy infrastructure, what threatens with the emergence of disasters of anthropogenic, sanitary-epidemiological and ecological nature", - the energy experts explained.
"In accordance with clause 8.8.1 of paragraph 8.8 of the Rules of the Wholesale Electricity Market, to recommend the National Commission for State Regulation of Energy and Public Utilities to set an additional payment to the DTEK Vostokenergo limited liability company to cover the additional expenses of the Luhansk Thermal Power Plant for the production of electricity from using natural gas as the main type of fuel until the moment of renewal of coal supplies", - is said in the text of the instruction of Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman as of October 31, 2018 No. 781-p "On prevention of emergency situation in the Luhansk oblast".
One can only hope that the Cabinet of Ministers "will settle" the question of Russian blackmail with the Luhansk energy collapse and allow using gas. The question is how much money will the consumer really pay for it?
Ostap Horodenko, OstroV, Sievierodonetsk