Keeping Ukraine warm

As Russia withholds natural gas supplies to the Ukraine, U.S. coal exporters step in

By: Chris Gillis
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Photo: Bernhard Lelle / Shutterstock.com
   While electric power companies in the United States look for ways to curtail their use of coal, bulk shipments of this commodity are welcomed with open arms by the Ukraine as the winter season approaches.
   The Ukrainian government and state-owned power company, Centrenergo PJSC, have recently agreed to purchase thermal coal from the United States, as Russia continues its threats to withhold natural gas supply to the former Soviet republic.
   The Ukraine has accused Russia of providing military support to the breakaway regions along its eastern border, including the Crimea. The United States has mostly stood behind the Ukraine in its efforts against Russian incursion.
   “In today’s turbulent world, geopolitical turmoil can create uncertainty for nations without access to an abundance of their own natural resources,” U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a July 31 statement. "No one knows this more than Ukraine.
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In recent years Kiev and much of Eastern Europe have been reliant on and beholden to Russia to keep the heat on. That changes now. The United States can offer Ukraine an alternative, and today we are pleased to announce that we will. U.S. coal will be a secure and reliable energy source for Centrenergo and its electricity customers.”
   Xcoal Energy and Resources of Latrobe, Pa., won the contract to supply thermal coal to Centrenergo. The mining company expects its first coal shipments to arrive by ship in the Ukraine’s Black Sea ports by late August or early September, in time for Centrenergo to begin stockpiling fuel for the winter months.
   Xcoal operates coal mines in the Appalachian region crossing western Pennsylvania and West Virginia and is one of the country’s largest coal exporters. No figures were released about Xcoal’s contract with Centrenergo.
   According to the company’s website, in 2013 it exported about 16 million tons of coal, with most of these shipments exiting the ports of Baltimore and Hampton Roads, Va.