ANALYSIS ZF. Romania, the second richest state in gas in the EU, leaves its inhabitants cold in the winter and its neighbors in the hands of Gazprom

“City halls want money from the budget for these acquisitions,” says Virgil Popescu, the interim minister of energy, an institution whose portfolio includes several energy producers, including Electrocentrale Bucureşti, Electrocentrale Constanţa, but also strategic companies, such as Romgaz.

“City halls want money from the budget for these acquisitions,” says Virgil Popescu, the interim minister of energy, an institution whose portfolio includes several energy producers, including Electrocentrale Bucureşti, Electrocentrale Constanţa, but also strategic companies, such as Romgaz. While for the companies in the portfolio there are no contracting problems, for the rest of the thermal agent companies in the country, the coming of winter was equivalent to the impossibility of paying the gas bills.

“It is not a question of quantities, but of price,” says the minister, although Romania has come to buy more gas than ever from Gazprom while its domestic production is declining at a glance.

If in the first quarter of the year natural gas is traded on the Vienna Stock Exchange, CEGH, with 18 euros per MWh, the price for the first quarter of next year is 93 euros per MWh. “The problem is that some mayoralties are only now starting to contract, or these agreements had to be made in the summer”, say representatives from the Ministry of Energy.

The world in the field and the world in the office

On the other hand, cities are on their knees one by one due to the explosion of gas costs, national imports are at a historic level amid a sharp decline in production, and Black Sea gas has a chance to surface only in five years, if the offshore legislation is ready tomorrow. The situation seems almost a dystopia considering that Romania is the second largest gas producer in the EU.

“Romania as a state is a unitary and centralized one when it comes to gathering resources, to take money from the country, and the western part is a main financier of the budget. When it comes to solving problems, however, we are a federal state because it all starts with “do it locally.” Here I mean all governments, of all political colors.

We see the same thing in all political alliances in the last 30 years “, said Călin Bibarţ, the mayor of Arad, during the show Invest in Romania, a ZF project supported by CEC Bank.

Bibarţ also says that the way things are seen in an office in Bucharest are completely different from the reality on the ground.

“In the field of heating, because winter is knocking at the door, all CHPs in the country have problems and we do not have a national policy of 30 years. Everyone has to manage their budget to spend the winter. From the parliament or from an office it is very easy to say from the pen, but the differences are borne by the local budget. ”

He says that without a financial intervention, Arad cannot last more than two months on its own.

“Romgaz is the company of the Romanian state and has contracts with some municipalities. In Bucharest they sell for 160 lei and the rest of us take from the free market for 500-800 lei. Are we two categories of people in this country? We talked with the mayors of Timisoara, Oradea, Bacau and we keep asking ourselves. With God’s help, we will get over this winter as well “, said the mayor of Arad.

Emergency solution

In the case of Timisoara, a city that risks running out of hot water and heat, yesterday the mayor’s office announced the finding of a last minute solution, which provides Timisoara residents with a week of thermal comfort. What happens next? Nobody knows.

“We managed to find an emergency solution with another gas supplier. We are currently concluding an emergency contract for a quantity of gas that provides Colterm customers with heat and hot water for a week, in a minimal system. We ensure the payment in advance from the local budget: 5 million lei, all the money we currently have “, said Dominic Fritz, the mayor of Timişoara, on his Facebook account.

“We are facing major problems in purchasing gas. A month ago, I was the first mayor to sound the alarm “, says Lucian Daniel Viziteu, the mayor of Bacău.

Emil Boc, the mayor of Cluj-Napoca, could not be contacted until the closing of the edition.

When it’s cold on a mountain of coal

Tiberiu Iacob-Ridzi, the mayor of Petroşani, is also in a difficult situation to imagine. The city is practically on a mountain of coal, but it cannot use it because Romania has committed to an accelerated greening, although the extremely ambitious pace has not been requested by anyone.

“The Paroşeni thermal power plant has been completely refurbished and meets all environmental conditions, so it could have a major contribution to the national energy system, if it had raw materials. At this time, the mining units in the Jiu Valley have a maximum production of 700 – 800 tons of coal / day, given that the need from Paroşeni is 1,800 tons per day “, says Tiberiu Iacob-Ridzi in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Energy and published in the middle of this month.

“We urgently need to adopt this support scheme to subsidize energy prices for the vulnerable population, to cap energy prices and, last but not least, we need a normative act to ensure the future of the Energy Complex, mining and production. cheap energy in the Jiu Valley, for the whole country! ‘, he continued, saying that at the level of the ministry there are all the necessary levers.

First aid

At the central level, however, the only aid for town halls, for this winter, was adopted yesterday by approving the law on capping electricity and gas bills.

“For the period from November 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, the Government will allocate to the budgets of territorial administrative units a subsidy to cover the increase of the price of gigacalories in the amount of 50% of the difference between the purchase price of natural gas and the capped price of natural gas of 0.250 lei / kwh “, is shown in the document voted yesterday in the Parliament.

Further, yesterday Romgaz announced that it has completed the negotiations with the Americans from Exxon for taking over the 50% stake in the Neptun Deep deep perimeter in the Black Sea. Thus, Romgaz becomes a partner with OMV Petrom in the largest local offshore energy project. What Romgaz did not specify, however, is that the first molecules could reach the shore only in five years, if all the legislation were ready tomorrow.

The overlap between Romgaz’s announcement on the Black Sea and the real situation of Romania, with cities threatened by cold, shows the huge gap between the real economy and the lack of investment in energy, a situation guaranteed by all parties that have been in power for the last 30 years. year old. Furthermore, beyond the fact that the second gas producer in the EU is not able to heat the inhabitants here, Romania has also failed in its regional role of stability factor, through resources, to its neighbors. The Republic of Moldova is the first victim, being entirely in the hands of Gazprom this winter.

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