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Published: Thursday March 20, 2014 MYT 3:35:20 PM
Updated: Thursday March 20, 2014 MYT 3:36:16 PM

Russia works with Crimea to ensure constant energy supply

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will ensure Crimea has a constant power supply by providing back-up sources and controlling fuel reserves, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday.

Two days after President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to annex Crimea from Ukraine, Russian officials are moving swiftly to integrate the region and bolster an economy that has been dependent on Kiev for 85 percent of its electricity, 90 percent of its drinking water and some food supplies.

"The Energy Ministry of Russia, together with the Crimean government and the administration of Sevastopol, have worked out a plan of action to improve the reliability of the power-supply infrastructure," Novak said in a statement.

"A need has been identified for back-up power sources in case the energy system suffers technical failures."

Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol and pro-Russian leaders have taken over control of the regional government and parliament in the peninsula's main city, Simferopol.

Novak said Crimea had reserves of 50,000 tonnes of gasoline and 15,000 tonnes of diesel fuel, covering the needs of automobile users for the time being.

To secure its fuel needs, Crimea's leadership has said it will nationalise the peninsula's oil and gas infrastructure, including offshore drilling firm Chornomornaftohaz ,a subsidiary of the Ukrainian state energy company.

Crimea's leaders have identified Russia's Gazprom as a buyer for the concern. Ukraine's leaders have said they will challenge any planned nationalisation in Crimea.

(Reporting by Denis Pinchuk, Writing by Elizabeth Piper, Editing by Timothy Heriatge) nL6N0MH145

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