KIEV, April 25 (Reuters) - Ukrainian energy firm DTEK, owned by multi-billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, said on Friday it might cut energy supplies to consumers in Crimea, annexed by Russia last month, due to unpaid debts mainly by big companies.
DTEK, which operates the Crimean energy distribution company Krymenergo, said the debts amounted to $60 million.
A “critical situation” was threatening the electricity supply to the whole peninsula and could lead to “involuntary blackouts” which could affect everyone, including household consumers, it said in a statement.
Crimea is still consumes Ukrainian energy despite the virtual absence of economic relations between the peninsula and the mainland.
The company said Crimean consumers had to pay in Ukrainian national currency hryvnia while current Crimean leaders have urged the population and companies to switch to Russian roubles as soon as possible.
Parts of Crimea faced blackouts in late March, which the local power company said were technical problems but which underlined the region’s vulnerability.
Moscow has said it plans to end Crimea’s reliance on Ukraine for electricity by helping to build gas-fired power stations and possibly linking the region to Russia’s grid. (Reporting By Pavel Polityuk, editing by David Evans)