Exclusive Interview with Ukrainian Energy Minister – CERAWeek Conversations
October 27, 2022
Minister Herman Halushchenko speaks with S&P Global Commodity Insights Senior Vice President, Amb. Carlos Pascual for a new edition of CERAWeek Conversations – available at https://ondemand.ceraweek.com/cwc
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recent attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have destroyed more than 30% of the country’s power generation capacity. In an exclusive interview for CERAWeek Conversations, Ukraine’s minister of energy, Herman Halushchenko makes real the impact on Ukraine’s people and the economy—and how Ukraine seeks to rebuild.
In a conversation with Amb. Carlos Pascual, senior vice president for global energy and international affairs, S&P Global Commodity Insights and a former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Minister Halushchenko details the various dimensions of the war’s impact on Ukraine’s energy systems and the country’s response to Russian attempts to weaponize energy to its strategic advantage.
The wide-ranging discussion covered:
Aerial attacks on Ukraine’s power-generation facilities:
A combination of Iranian-supplied drones, aircraft attacks originating from Russian and Belarusian territory, and missile launches from Russia’s Black Sea fleet have been targeting Ukraine’s thermal generation facilities in central and western Ukraine, Minister Halushchenko notes.
“One of the goals which we see in this massive shelling is [Russia] wants to split our energy system into different areas,” he said. “The idea [is] that when they split the system—or if they do—it’s easier to damage during the wintertime.”
Gas flows through Ukraine:
Approximately 40-45 mmcm/d of Russian gas are currently still flowing through Ukraine, levels that are well below contracted amounts. Minister Halushchenko says that it is indicative of how gas has been used as a measure to pressure European countries to break their solidarity with Ukraine and with each other. He notes that when the war started, Russia dramatically increased the volumes of gas transited through Ukraine to maximum levels—a move designed to curry European support, he says. However, when support for Ukraine held Russia responded by decreasing flows to minimum levels. Ukraine, he projects, will need to import gas from December through March.
Ukraine’s gas storage systems:
Ukraine operates one of the largest underground storage systems for natural gas in the world. That storage infrastructure has largely been unscathed by Russian attacks. As Europe prepares for winter, Minister Halushchenko says that Ukraine’s storage system can play a role in bolstering energy security across the continent.
“[Our storage infrastructure is] quite secure,” he says. “Any attempts to hit this infrastructure have failed. It’s very difficult to reach.”
“We welcome any foreign companies to store gas in our storages. It’s important for us to maintain the system. [It is a] good business opportunity for companies to have this gas and then to sell it during the heating season when the price is high. The price of storage in Ukraine is very cheap compared to the storages in Europe.”
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant:
Europe’s largest nuclear power facility has been at the center of ongoing shelling for months. Minister Halushchenko provides an operational status report of the plant and details the human toll being exacted on the Ukrainian engineers who oversee day-to-day operations. “Russia is trying to push our staff to agree to work for [them]...,” Minister Halushchenko said. “The people are under pressure. [They are] exhausted physically but they are responsible for nuclear safety.” The conversation with Minister Halushchenko also details the status of energy supplies for Ukraine’s agribusiness sector and the success of its recent efforts to synchronize the country’s power grid with European Union power markets, which he said was an important shield against possible terrorist attacks on the Ukrainian power grid. That synchronization also gave Ukraine the ability to trade electricity with the European Union. Cutting off electricity exports is another motivation for the Russian shelling of energy infrastructure, he said.
About CERAWeek Conversations: CERAWeek Conversations features original interviews and discussion with energy industry leaders, government officials and policymakers, leaders from the technology, financial and industrial communities—and energy technology innovators. The series is produced by the team responsible for the world’s preeminent energy conference, CERAWeek by S&P Global.
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