| 22 April 2024, Monday |

Fire at Odesa power substation leaves Ukraine port city’s grid on the brink

Nearly 500,000 people were left without power on Saturday after a fire broke out at an overloaded electrical substation in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa, dealing yet another blow to the nation’s beleaguered electricity grid that has been battered by Russian strikes for months.

Repairs might take weeks, according to officials. The administration ordered the energy ministry’s stock of high-power generators to be transported to the city and announced that it would make an aid appeal to Turkey.

The CEO of the state grid operator, Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, said critical equipment that had already been damaged several times by Russian missile strikes burst into flames when it could no longer “withstand the load”.

“(The equipment) has been struck so many times that its state leaves much to be desired,” Kudrytskyi told a briefing in Odesa, a city on the Black Sea.

He any further Russian missile or drone attacks could make the situation even worse.

“We will do everything we can for the improvement of the power supply situation to take days rather than weeks,” he said.

Since October, Moscow has waged a campaign of massive missile attacks on energy infrastructure. Moscow says the strikes aim to reduce Ukraine’s ability to fight; Kyiv says they have no military purpose and are intended to hurt civilians.

“The situation is difficult, the scale of the accident is significant, it is impossible to quickly restore power supply,” Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal wrote on Telegram.

Odesa regional governor Maksym Marchenko said practically all of the city had lost power after the incident, and that as of Saturday afternoon about 500,000 people faced outages.

That figure represents about half of Odesa’s pre-war population of one million, when it was Ukraine’s third largest city.

“Today’s power supply (availability) allows to supply the city and the district about 40 or 45%, but if we factor in critical infrastructure, then of course very little is left for ordinary citizens,” Kudrytskyi said.

Odesa’s temperature on Saturday was two degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and it will be below freezing for most of next week.

Prime Minister Shmyhal declared that he has given the energy ministry of Ukraine the go-ahead to mobilize every high-power generator in its nationwide stock and bring it to Odesa in a single day.

Additionally, he gave the Ukrainian foreign ministry instructions to ask Turkey to provide powerships—vessels that can transport power plants—to assist the city.

Kudrytskyi stated during the briefing that the city’s vital infrastructure facilities were now receiving power.

  • Reuters