The shipment of South African coal to Ukraine was stopped because the sale of foreign currency to the Ukrinterenergo state power company for settlement with the coal supplier, British Steel Mont Trading Ltd, officials at Ukrinterenergo have told the Interfax Ukraine news agency.

"It is true that the vessel carrying the fourth consignment of coal is anchored in the roads of the Ilyichevsk port, but its unloading cannot begin... Purchase of foreign currency by our company has been blocked, and we are unable to settle with Steel Mont for the third and fourth consignments of coal. Accordingly, they cannot pay the port for unloading or pay the railway for railcars," an Ukrinterenergo official said.

In fact, according to information provided to the CFTS portal, the bulk carrier with the coal is anchored not in the roads of the port but near Vilkovo, on the boundary of the territorial waters of Romania and Ukraine.

According to the press service of the Ilyichevsk port, the vessel did not enter the port’s waters or the territorial waters of Ukraine. "By all indications, it is located somewhere, waiting instructions from its owner," the press service of the port said.

According to information from Ukrinterenergo, hryvnia funds for purchase of foreign currency were reserved more than three weeks ago, but it has not yet been possible to perform the transaction. "Unfortunately, we do not know exactly who blocked the process," an Ukrinterenergo official said. According to the company, payment for 80% of the third consignment of coal from South Africa should have been made before 17 November (20% prepayment), but this did not happen. The Ukrinterenergo official emphasized that the State Railway Administration (Ukrzaliznytsia), the TIS terminal, and the Ilyichevsk port performed a colossal amount of work to ensure smooth shipment of coal, but their efforts has turned out to be in vain.

"All shipments have been stopped, the railway is forced to reallocate railcars, and the port cannot keep berths open. Meanwhile, the coal, which arrived with excellent moisture, is getting wet in the snow. It will take time to re-organize shipment - it will be necessary to free up berths and cranes and prepare warehouses, trucks, and railcars. The situation is horrible," an official at Ukrinterenergo said, adding that law enforcement officials investigating a criminal case have seized all the company’s servers and are systematically summoning its managers for questioning.

"As you know, Russia stopped shipment of anthracite to Ukraine today. Apparently, someone inside our country is interested in coal from South Africa also not being delivered, in Ukrinterenergo not working on diversification of supplies, and in the situation in the energy sector deteriorating,” the Ukrinterenergo official said.

As reported, the MBA Rosaria vessel, which is carrying the fourth consignment of 84,600 tons of coal from South Africa, is anchored in the roads of the Ilyichevsk port, but it is not yet entering the port. Two more vessels loaded with coal from South Africa are expected to arrive in Ukraine in December 2014: the Rosco Poplar bulk carrier with 77,800 tons of coal and the Bottiglieri Sophie Green bulk carrier with 84,000 tons.

In total, 250,000 tons of coal from South Africa was planned for delivery to Tsentrenergo’s thermoelectric power plants at the cost of USD 86 per ton (USD 110-112 per ton, taking account of the costs of loading and unloading of vessels, transportation, and other costs) by the end of 2014.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office has interrogated senior officials of the Ministry of Energy & Coal Industry, Ukrinterenergo, and the Tsentrenergo power company in connection with an investigation into coal purchases from South Africa and the financing of coal enterprises on territories currently outside Kiev’s control. According to Minister of Energy & Coal Industry Yurii Prodan, this investigation prompted the seller of the South African coal - Steel Mont Trading Ltd (Britain) - to refuse to make further deliveries under the contract previously signed because it feared that payment would not be made or shipment would be blocked.