Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Romania in state of emergency as gas runs out

Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Agence France-Presse

BUCHAREST - Romania declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as deliveries of Russian gas ceased entirely, but the government insisted the country had sufficient reserves to last up to 80 days.

Following an emergency meeting with officials from the gas sector, Economy Minister Adriean Videanu described the situation as "serious, but not impossible."

Videanu said the ministry had declared a state of emergency, which would legally empower Transgaz to take the necessary measures to ensure gas supplies "under the best possible conditions."

But "we can go through the winter without any problems, because Romania has sufficient gas reserves for 60 to 80 days," he insisted.

Previously, the minister had said that gas reserves would last up to six months without Russian imports.

Earlier, gas importer Transgaz had said that deliveries of Russian gas had ceased entirely.

"At 8:50 a.m., we were told that the supply of gas was being suspended," Transgaz director Ioan Rusu told Realitatea TV.

"With every passing minute, we are noticing a drop in gas pressure," he added.

Earlier this week, Russian giant Gazprom had cut supplies to Romania by more than two thirds by turning off the taps at the Isaccea 2 terminal.

The decision to cut off all gas supplies to Romania will deprive the country of nearly 10 million cubic metres a day.

Romania currently consumes around 60 million cubic metres of gas a day, with 33 million cubic metres coming from domestic production, and 26 million from underground reserves totally 2.2 billion cubic metres.

In face of the stoppage of Russian imports, Bucharest has decided to cut usage by 4.8 million cubic metres a day, appealing consumers to use other fuels for heating.

Authorities also plan to limit supplies to industrial users and give priority to households as temperatures have dropped to minus 20 degrees Celsius.

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