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Ukraine tells power stations to switch to gas to preserve coal, DTEK CEO says

By Julia Payne

LONDON (Reuters) -The Ukrainian government has instructed power stations to switch to natural gas to preserve strategic coal reserves, the head of the country’s biggest private power producer said on Saturday.

DTEK Chief Executive Maxim (NASDAQ:MXIM) Timchenko said the country has 15 to 20 days left of coal reserves, or 730,000 tonnes. DTEK is involved across the energy sector, from renewables to coal and oil, and accounts for a quarter the country’s power generating facilities.

Most of Ukraine’s coal production, some produced by DTEK, is located in the country’s east, in or near the two separatist states that Russia has declared independent. Timchenko said it was “only a matter of time” before either coal production or distribution gets disrupted.

“The Ukrainian government has asked DTEK to switch to gas instead of coal to preserve strategic reserves,” Timchenko told reporters on a conference call. DTEK owns eight thermal power stations, including one in the separatist province of Luhansk that is now under Russian control.

Gas is produced in Ukraine and also comes via pipeline from Russia to the European market. Timchenko said that Ukraine can tap Russian gas in transit to the rest of Europe.

Timchenko said that Ukrainian power demand had dropped since the invasion and the country now had an overcapacity. He added that 11 out of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear power reactors.

“Our military forces have strengthened their positions around the nuclear power plants but nobody can say whether we keep these under our control,” Timchenko said.

For the time being, Russia has not been targeting critical infrastructure, he said, but 40% of DTEK’s renewable energy had been cut off due to downed transmission lines.

“There are no major supply issues to consumers in all regions. Just small local problems but nothing systemic right now,” he said.

Ukraine had been disconnected from the Belarussian and Russian power grid, he said.

Natural gas accounts for about a third of Ukraine’s energy consumption followed by coal at 30% and nuclear power at 21%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Oil and renewables account for the remainder.

Ukraine tells power stations to switch to gas to preserve coal, DTEK CEO says

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