Azarov: Russian gas price makes Ukraine turn to coal

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Jan. 13, 2012, 11:24 a.m. | Business — by Interfax-Ukraine
Coal heating is cheaper for Ukraine than Russian natural gas at a price of $416 per 1,000 cubic meters, Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said. "Speaking of using coal instead of gas, when gas costs $416 as it does now, coal use is appropriate and economically justified. But if the gas price goes down and will be, for instance, $220, then using coal as opposed to gas will be inefficient," the prime minister told journalists after the ceremony of opening the Kyiv-Irpin road.

Ukraine has set the task of seriously cutting the consumption of expensive Russian natural gas in 2012, he said. Already a meeting has been held to decide who will be in charge of what, "and the work got under way in full swing," Azarov said.

In 2010-2011, the government was seriously focusing on coal industry development, and in 2011 Ukraine reached a coal surplus of 5 million tonnes.

Ukraine aims to switch, where possible, to its own fuel: coal and alternative sources, the prime minister said.

At the same time, Ukraine is set to continue talks with Russia to reduce the price of its natural gas, he said.

"On the one hand, we persist in talks with Russian partners, and on the other, we are preparing the country to manage such a gas price," Azarov said.
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Anonymous Jan. 13, 2012, 4:02 p.m.    

There is litle doubt that the Ukrainian coal reserves are considerable. But switching from gas to coal is not easily done. The infrastructure will have to be adapted to transport the extra coal needed, gas burners will have to be replaced by coal burning equipment etc. If Azarov thinks this can be done quickly and cheaply then he is deluding himself. And there are also environmental consequences to consider- gas is a clean fuel, coal isn't.

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