By Anders Lorenzen
Ukraine, the war-torn country directionally split between the EU and Russia, still suffers from the economic impacts that followed upscaled Russian military activity during 2014, and whilst tensions have not yet fully died down, the Eastern European nation has received its first shipment of US coal.
Ukraine has, for years now, been locked in an energy war with Russia. The war has primarily focused on oil and gas – as the majority of oil and gas pipelines transporting fuel to the EU go through Ukraine. So, whilst Ukraine has plentiful natural resources, due to the expensive civil war they have lacked the necessary funds to extract it on a scale which, maintaining their dependency on Russian imports. On top of this, with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Ukraine lost two coal mines. In general energy efficiency in the country is extremely poor, which in turn contributes to increased energy demand, and when supply struggle to meet demand energy shortages occurs. So the country is in desperate need of cheap energy imports.
Partnerships between the US and Ukraine are nothing new, seen in the Obama administration’s backing of the country in the conflict against Russia. But the focus of the new alliance with the Trump administration aims to top up Ukraine’s energy capacity using coal, the world’s dirtiest of energy sources. Differing from the Obama administration which prioritised energy efficiency programmes and the phasing out of dirty energy production.
The US coal arriving in Ukraine is thermal coal from Pennsylvania, departed the Port of Baltimore and arrived in Ukraine this month. It is not known if the Pennsylvanian coal is a direct result of US President Donald Trump’s aggressive plan to revive the US coal industry. But it is likely that the US government is moving to position the US as an attractive marketplace for coal importers as they bet big on the future of coal, contrary to most developed countries moving swiftly away from it.
The US Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry said: “U.S. coal will be a secure and reliable energy source for Centrenergo and its electricity customers. This shipment will boost both of our country’s economies by supporting jobs in the coal and transportation industries. The Department and this Administration look forward to making available even more of our abundant natural resources to allies like Ukraine in the future to promote their own energy security through diversity of supply and source.”
Many countries and advocates of tackling climate change will be deeply worried that the Trump administration’s anti-climate agenda is now venturing outside the US.