Ukraine in talks with EU to maximise electricity imports, minister says

Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko attends a press conference at the U.N. nuclear watchdog IAEA in Vienna

By Pavel Polityuk

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine is negotiating to maximise possible imports of electricity from European Union countries to compensate for the generation capacity destroyed by the Russian attacks, Ukrainian energy minister said on Friday.

Russian missile and drone attacks on Ukraine's energy sector have intensified since March, resulting in significant damage and blackouts in many regions.

The attacks have caused more than $1 billion of damage to the sector, leading to the loss of 8,000 MWh of generating capacity from the energy system, the government says.

Currently, Ukraine can import from the EU states no more than 1,700 Mwh of electricity simultaneously.

"We're negotiating. Our task is to maximise this figure," Energy Minister German Galushchenko told parliament.

"Technically, we can receive (import) more than 2,000 Mwh, even 2,400 Mwh. I'm sure a decision will be made," he added.

Volodymyr Kudrytskiy, the head of Ukraine's national power grid operator Ukrenergo, told Ukraine's Telegraf that 1,700 Mwh is "the ceiling for now".

"Everything will depend on how quickly our European colleagues - energy system operators of neighbouring countries - will be able to implement projects to expand the capacity of their grids," Kudrytskiy said.

He said that European grid companies need time and money to reinforce some of their substations, install additional transformers or build new transmission lines.

"We think 3,500 to 4,000 Mwh of interstate interconnector capacity is something we can have in the horizon of five years," Kudrytskiy noted.


Energy minister Galushchenko did not say exactly how much imports are being discussed now, but Maxim Timchenko, the head of Ukraine's largest private energy company, DTEK, said earlier this month that an increase to 2,200 Mwh could significantly improve the situation.

DTEK has lost about 90% of its power generation capacity due to Russian missile attacks in recent months.

DTEK data showed that Ukraine consumed around 13,000 Mwh before the attacks as of March 17 but after a series of Russian attacks on the energy system, consumption fell to 9,100 Mwh.

Due to power shortages, Ukrainian power grid operator Ukrenergo has been forced to introduce regular shutdowns of industrial consumers and households and maintain high import rates.

Problems with power generation can have a "potentially negative impact" on industry, especially the largest electricity consumers, the economy ministry said this week.

(Editing by David Evans)