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24 Aug, 2018 14:03

Coal-rich Ukraine happy to transport coal from Pennsylvania on US locomotives - Poroshenko

Coal-rich Ukraine happy to transport coal from Pennsylvania on US locomotives - Poroshenko

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has once again highlighted the importance of his country's ties and economic cooperation with the US.

“Our trade turnover for a little more than a year has grown by 70 percent,” Poroshenko said during a meeting with US National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Ukraine's president said that no country in the world has demonstrated a similar growth. According to Poroshenko, the significant increase in mutual trade became possible only thanks to the agreements he managed to reach during his meeting with US President Donald Trump last year.

“They include supplies of American coal to Ukrainian power plants, American nuclear fuel, investments into construction of a facility for nuclear waste, as well as US agricultural investments and [a] contract with General Electric,” the president said.

In July 2017, shortly after Poroshenko met Trump in the White House, Ukrainian state-run energy company Centrenergo announced a deal with Pennsylvania-based Xcoal Energy & Resources for the supply of up to 700,000 tons of anthracite. Kiev reportedly rejected South African coal due to its high price, while Russian coal wasn’t suitable for the country for political reasons.

This year, Kiev purchased 1,017,469 tons of anthracite from January through March, compared to 865,732 tons bought in the same period a year ago, according to data compiled by the US Energy Information Administration.

Ukraine used to be one of the world’s major producers of anthracite – a coal used in power generation. However, the country faced shortages due to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, where almost all mines are located. Massive disruption was also evoked by the blockage of railways leading to the breakaway Donbass region by Kiev-backed militant groups.

American coal imports will also be transported in Ukraine using US-made locomotives. In February, General Electric’s transportation unit said it clinched a $1-billion deal to supply 30 freight locomotives to Ukrainian Railways. Under its terms, the company will also supply additional locomotive kits over 10 years, rehabilitate locomotives in the railway’s legacy fleet and provide long-term maintenance services.

In late 2016, Ukraine’s authorities announced plans to tear up its agreement with Russia, under which it had been removing spent nuclear fuel from the country. Kiev also said that it would build its own spent nuclear fuel storage facility in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The news triggered deep security concerns among nuclear industry experts.

Kiev signed an agreement for a $250 million loan from the US for building the facility. Last year, Holtec International, US supplier of parts for nuclear reactors, reportedly joined the project, evoking even more worries among ecologists.

Ukraine's Soviet-built reactors are compatible with Russian nuclear fuel and parts for the reactors. Using US fuel rods was banned in 2012 due to dangerous incompatibility.

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