Ukraine plans record power imports after Russian attacks on energy system

View shows a thermal power plant damaged by recent Russian missile strikes in Ukraine

By Pavel Polityuk

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine plans record high electricity imports on Wednesday after significant energy infrastructure damage from recent Russian strikes on its energy system, the energy ministry said, warning that there could still be shortages in the evening.

Imports are expected to rise to 23,692 megawatt hours (Mwh) on Wednesday, versus the previous high of 21,072 Mwh on Tuesday and 19,484 Mwh on Monday.

"Today, emergency electricity supplies from Poland, Romania and Slovakia have already been made at Ukraine's request. Emergency assistance is also expected to be provided during the day," the ministry said in a statement.

"In the evening, there may also be power shortages."

The national power grid operator Ukrenergo said in a separate statement that Ukraine would import electricity from Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova.

The import volumes would be close to the maximum technically possible 1,700 megawatts hours which Ukraine is able to receive from European Union states, it said.

In a second statement later in the evening, Ukrenergo said there would be "controlled" power cuts for domestic and industrial users from 1925 to 2200 (1625 GMT to 1900 GMT).

It said an hour-by-hour schedule of cuts would be in effect throughout Thursday for both domestic and industrial users.

Ukrenergo imposed emergency power cuts on Wednesday morning but then cancelled the restrictions

Ukraine's biggest private power firm DTEK said on Tuesday the maximum volume of simultaneous imports could be increased to 2,200 Mwh.

Ukrenergo and the energy ministry have said negotiations on the increase are proceeding.

Russian missile and drone attacks on Ukraine's energy sector have intensified since March, dealing significant damage and causing blackouts in many regions.

The attacks have caused more than $1 billion of damage to the sector, said Ukrainian energy minister German Galushchenko, and led to the loss of 8,000 Mwh of generating capacity.

Ukraine consumes up to 19,000 Mwh at peak of consumption in winter.

Ukraine's DTEK said this week it lost about 90% of its power generation capacity due to Russian missile attacks in recent weeks.

The ministry asked residents and industries to reduce power consumption "to reduce the load on the power system, as well as to use imports as much as possible to ensure that outages are avoided and the power system is more resilient."

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle, Bernadette Baum and Gareth Jones)