The U.S. said Monday that for the first time it will sell coal to Ukraine, easing its reliance on Russia and Moscow-back separatists in eastern Ukraine to meet its energy needs.
The accord calls for Xcoal Energy & Resources in the eastern state of Pennsylvania to ship 700,000 tons of thermal coal by the end of the year to Ukraine's state-owned energy firm Centrenergo to help it heat homes and businesses in the coming winter months. The first shipment, at a cost of $113 a metric ton, is expected to leave the U.S. port of Baltimore in August.
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the transaction was "crucial to the path forward to achieve energy dominance" for the United States. President Donald Trump has vowed to bring back the country's coal industry, which has lost thousands of jobs as the U.S. has turned sharply toward use of cleaner and cheaper forms of energy, chiefly natural gas, even as demand for coal has risen in Europe and Asia.
Ukraine has struggled to meet its energy needs since March, when it cut off coal deliveries from the eastern part of its country controlled by Russian-backed separatists fighting the Kyiv government for control of the industrialized sector. Ukraine has called for a complete ban on coal imports from Russia, which Kyiv and Western countries have accused of supporting the rebellion in eastern Ukraine that has claimed 10,000 lives in the last three years.
Speaking at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Xcoal president Ernie Thrasher called the deal "historic" and said the company was "committed to serving Ukraine's needs."