By JIM ROSS
The State Journal
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. thermal coal industry got a boost from Ukraine on Monday, when that nation announced it would buy thermal coal from the United States, replacing coal that has been supplied by Russia.
The deal won’t affect West Virginia directly, as all the coal will come from mines in Pennsylvania, but it could help the state indirectly, one industry spokesman says.
“By default, anything that takes that much coal helps other suppliers,” said Ted O’Brien, spokesman for Xcoal Energy and Resources of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, which signed the contract with Ukraine’s state-owned power generation company, Centrenergo PJSC.
“This is a big deal for the U.S. coal industry to supply thermal coal to Ukraine for the first time,” O’Brien said.
The deal was announced by the U.S. Department of Energy.
“In today’s turbulent world, geopolitical turmoil can create uncertainty for nations without access to an abundance of their own natural resources. No one knows this more than Ukraine. In recent years, Kiev and much of Eastern Europe have been reliant on and beholden to Russia to keep the heat on. That changes now. The United States can offer Ukraine an alternative, and today we are pleased to announce that we will,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in the announcement.
“U.S. coal will be a secure and reliable energy source for Centrenergo and its electricity customers. This announcement will also boost our own economy by supporting jobs in the coal and transportation industries. This administration looks forward to making available even more of our abundant natural resources to allies and partners like Ukraine in the future to promote their own energy security through diversity of supply and source. Partnerships like this are crucial to the path forward to achieve energy dominance.”
According to the announcement, several U.S. government agencies and offices were involved in negoatiations, including the Department of Energy and the Department of Commerce. XCoal anticipates that shipments of U.S. coal are planned to arrive in Ukraine in late August or early September, just in time to stockpile fuel for the winter heating season.
O’Brien said Xcoal has no mines in West Virginia, but it markets coal from West Virginia mines.
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