By Daniel Stroe – Bucharest
The Romanian Government asked the two largest local gas producers – Petrom and Romgaz – to avoid maintenance works for a while lest they affect the home gas production amid growing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, which could impact on the gas transit to Europe, Energy minister Razvan Nicolescu said.
“As far as we are concerned, we are ready to cope with any situation. We had discussions on Monday with the main Romanian gas producers, namely Romgaz and Petrom. I forwarded the request of the Government to try to postpone and avoid any sort of maintenance works, which are not absolutely necessary and that could somehow affect the productions in the weeks to come. We are at a consumption level below the production one and we have moved on to the storage phase. So we are prepared to face any sort of situation”, the minister said as quoted by the state news wire Agerpres.
He added EU Energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger would have a phone conference with all the Energy ministers in the communitarian bloc in order to update them on the Russian gas transit through Ukraine. Oettinger would also try to push for a common approach of the member states concerning a possible gas crisis due to tensions in Ukraine.
Romania has dramatically reduced gas imports from Russia over years, with the latest official figures showing that only 2% of the domestic use gas in imported while the share increases to 4% in case of industry used gas. Last month, the numbers were higher, namely 5% and 20% respectively.
The volumes of gas Romania imports from Russia have declined in time. Before the crisis struck in 2008, Romania used to import six billion cubic meters out of an annual consumption of 18 billion cubic meters. In 2013, Romania only imported one billion cubic meters which cost 400 million euros, about 1.1 billion euros less than the previous year.
Many say the decline in gas consumption and, consequently, in imports came amid the economic crisis which saw the number of companies reduced, but the reasons also lie with the price of the Russian gas which is almost double the domestic gas is selling. At this point, Romania has gas reserves which are assessed to last for 15 years at the current rate of consumption of 10-11 billion cubic meters.