- Transforming Ukraine’s vast underground gas reservoirs into an Eastern European energy hub was discussed in Brussels by Prime Minister Groysman and Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission for Energy Union. Šefčovič, a Slovak diplomat, has had the energy portfolio for three years. Ukraine’s gas reservoirs, the largest in Eastern Europe, are largely in Western Ukraine, with many near the border of Slovakia, a transit country for half of Russia’s gas exports to Europe.
- Gas storage may be key in Europe’s energy future, Nick Butler writes Monday in a Financial Times article “Natural gas golden age becomes golden bubble.” Butler writes: “In Europe both gas and coal are losing out to renewables, led by wind…Gas demand in Europe is 12 per cent lower than it was 10 years ago…the growth of gas supply has exceeded demand and prices are down… In Europe the competition is from renewables, backed by public policy, with the prospect of gas being reduced to the status of a balancing fuel in the power sector used to cover the intermittency of solar and wind.”
- Naftogaz" is negotiating with Snam, an Italian natural gas infrastructure company, to partner in managing Ukraine’s gas transportation system, Yury Vitrenko, chief commercial director of Naftogaz, told television channel Direct. Noting that Snam used to be a subsidiary of ENI, Vitrenko said that if Snam helps manage the gas transportation system, “then ENI will trust the Ukrainian GTS, and it will be much more likely that they will buy gas on the Russian-Ukrainian border.”
- Westinghouse Sweden AB is talking with Rivne Nuclear Power Plant about replacing Russian-made fuel with Swedish-made fuel. Westinghouse also is making technical support offers for the plant, which was largely built in the 1980s with Soviet technology. Since 2015, two other nuclear power plants, South-Ukrainian and Zaporizhye, have started switching to Westinghouse fuel. Recently, Alexander Shavlak, an Energoatom vice president, told Novoe Vremya that by 2020 the state nuclear power plant operator hopes to operate all four of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants with non-Russian fuel.
- Ukraine tripled its bus production and increased its car manufacturing by 72% through November, compared to last year, according the Ukravtoprom, the industry association. Total vehicle production was 7,654. Almost three quarters came from Skoda’s production of Eurocars on the Slovak border. South Korean and European manufacturers are studying setting up large scale manufacturing in Ukraine, but decisions are held up over uncertainty about the speed of Europe’s shift to electric cars.
- Of world companies producing weapons, Ukroboronprom, the Ukrainian state enterprise ranks 77th in size, according to the Stockholm Institute for Peace Research, or SIPRI. In 2016, Ukroboronprom sales amounted to $1billion. By contrast, Russia sold $27 billion worth of arms and the United States sold $217 billion.
- Prime Minister Groysman signaled his support for a controversial bill to grant Ukrainian producers an advantage in the ProZorro public e-procurement system. "Products made in our territory should receive an advantage with equal qualitative indicators," he told regional media reporters Monday. Last Thursday, the Rada approved on the first reading a bill that would give preference to national producers, even if their tendered prices are as much as 43% more expensive than their foreign competitors.
- The National Bank of Ukraine is expanding its team working on moving the hyrvnia to a blockchain, CoinDesk news site reports. Yakiv Smolii, acting governor of the central bank emailed the news site: "Today, we've reinforced our team with world-class professionals and are optimistic that the project will get a boost in upcoming months….The National Bank of Ukraine is looking forward to implementation of e-hryvnia based on blockchain technology." Earlier, Pavel Kravchenko, founder of Distributed Lab, a Kharkiv-based blockchain consultancy, told CoinDesk that it is working on the Bank project, "responsible for architecture, blockchain research and development and security analysis."
- Ukraine is taking a $1.8 billion hit to its trade balance this year due to last spring’s halt in trade with separatist-controlled areas of the Donbas, says Oleg Chury, deputy head of the National Bank of Ukraine. Losses stem largely from replacing cheap local coal with expensive imported coal. As coal production in Kyiv-controlled areas revives, the loss is expected to fall to $500 million in 2018.
- Ukraine will nearly cut in half its consumption this year of anthracite coal, the kind largely produced in the separatist territories. To maintain heat and power, coal-fired plants moved largely to ‘gas coal,’ according to Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Kistion. He said: “While earlier we consumed more than 9 million tons of anthracite coal per year, it will be about 5 million tons by the end of this year. This was made possible by the measures taken by the government to transfer the anthracite blocks of Ukrainian TPPs to a gas coal group."
- Ukraine’s forecast 2017 grain harvest has inched up slightly, to 62.3 million tons, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food reports. Last year’s harvest was 5% larger -- 65.95 million tons, a national record. Separately, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization forecasts world grain reserves will grow in 2018 to a record 726 million tons. Foreshadowing softer prices, the world will have the highest ratio of grain reserves to grain consumption in 16 years.
- Ukrainian travel to the EU increased 15% to 11 million visits during the first six months of visa-free travel, compared to the same six months last year, according to the EU Delegation to Ukraine. At the same time, nearly half a million people visited the bilingual Ukrainian-Russian website www.openeurope.in.ua. It provides information about the new visa rules.
- On Thursday, Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan plans to announce the launching of a national low-cost airline. The airline is to have foreign capital, but 51% of shares will belong to Ukraine. Separately, it is reported that Eurowings, a German low cost airline owned by the Lufthansa Group, is talking with both of Kyiv’s commercial airports about flying to Kyiv.
UBJ is now free access. Please relay our link to your friends and business partners who want clear, reliable business information about Ukraine. -- www.theubj.com
UBJ a.m. is reported by UBJ Editor in Chief James Brooke, a former New York Times foreign correspondent and Bloomberg Moscow bureau chief. For comments and story tips, Brooke is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org