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Ukraine Allows Russian Electricity Imports as Coal Supply Falters

A factory board member looks inside a furnace at a biomass thermal electricity generation plant in Ivankiv, Kiev region.

Ukraine's government has allowed state energy company Ukrinterenergo to import electricity from Russia to cover current power shortages caused by a lack of coal, the Ukrainian Energy Ministry said.

Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn said last week that Ukraine had a shortfall in electrical power of more than 10 percent as separatist violence in the country's industrial eastern region has disrupted coal supply to power plants.

Most of Ukraine's coal mines are in territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

President Petro Poroshenko last month urged the government to consider importing power from Russia.

The country's deputy energy minister allowed two firms to buy 1,500 megawatts (MW) from Russia but was later dismissed, raising doubts about the fate of the importation plan.

Ukraine and Russia have joint electricity systems and there are no technical obstacles to such imports, but analysts say importing electricity is more expensive than importing coal.

Ukraine has an electricity generation capacity of 55,000 MW, but only around 26,000 MW is being used, according to the Energy Ministry.

Ukraine is traditionally a net exporter of power and relies on coal to generate around 40 percent of its energy.

The ministry said this weekend that Russia had allowed some of the coal previously bought by Ukraine to cross the border.

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