Kyiv, November 23, 2015. The situation with power transmission line repair in Kherson region remains difficult. “The lines are damaged and so far we are unable to start their repair. […] We dispose of information that еруку might be a bomb threat at certain objects. Towers were blown up using explosives. Military troops must examine this territory to clear it of mines and secure access. Our team (repair crews), located in close vicinity, are ready to get down to work as soon as they are summoned,” informed Volodymyr Demchyshyn, Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine. According to Demchyshyn, four destroyed power-transmission lines and a wire segment will be fully replaced. Kakhovsko-Ostrovska line will be easiest to repair. Nevertheless, to complete the operation, repair crews need at least 5 days.
Demchyshyn also said that there still is a threat that several districts of Kherson region might be disconnected. “There are a number of industrial enterprises that may face unpleasant outcomes, if electricity supply is disrupted,” emphasized the minister. He also said that risks connected with the current situation were discussed with Crimean Tatar representatives Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov. “They understand the responsibility. They also understand that Ukrainian citizens are affected on both sides. I do hope we will be able to work soon,” added Demchyshyn.
Prior to the incident, Ukraine’s daily supply to Crimea amounted to 15-18 million kW. Demchyshyn said that under the circumstances Crimea may partially produce electricity for its own needs. There are 10 generators in the peninsula with 150-200 MW production capacity and four cogeneration plants that can produce up to 100 MW. Nevertheless, this system ‘is not integrated, it is free-running.”
The minister said Ukraine will not face any penalties from Russia for cessation of electricity supply, for the present circumstances can be regarded as force majeure. Moreover, Russia is unable to cut off electricity to Ukraine, as Ukraine stopped buying Russian electrical power on November 13. Nevertheless, Demchyshyn does not rule out the possibility Russia might ‘reciprocate’ in other ways, for instance, using Ukraine’s dependence on Russian gas. The minister did not confirm information that Russia may block anthracite supply to Ukraine.
Referring to the agreement on electricity supply to the temporarily occupied peninsula, Demchyshyn said the provisions contained no reference to Russian ‘federal districts’. He also said that the agreement is valid up till December 31, and the Cabinet of Ministers is to make a decision on its prolongation. “The contract was signed in the interests of the state, by a state enterprise by order of the Cabinet of Ministers. The contract provided profit margin of 3% for 10 months, which makes up about 300 million hryvnias for 10 months,” said the minister. “I believe the agreement is commercially viable, but we are not speaking of commerce now.”
Giving comments on his personal attitude to further developments on the agreement, Demchyshyn said “we must take a balanced approach to any steps now”, considering all pros and cons in the circumstances of Ukraine’s energy relations. The minister also emphasized that absence of regular electric power supply in the peninsula may result in a serious humanitarian crisis, and “we must respect these people in order to return this territory to Ukraine.”