EnergyMin Petcu: Winter preparations started earlier than in 2016, fuel stocks much higher than estimated needs

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In working out the Winter Program, the Energy Ministry has considered a set of pessimistic scenarios that assume bad weather and consumption increases, so that the fuel stocks built thereon are much higher than the estimated needs, Energy Minister Toma Petcu told a specialist conference on Monday.

“Immediately after this debate, I have called a Winter Command meeting at the National Energy Dispatch Center, for a final review of all technical preparations. Right from the start I want to send a clear message to everyone: this year, winter preparations have started much earlier than in 2016 and have been designed and more closely tailored to Romania-specific winter conditions! In working out the Winter Program we have also considered pessimistic scenarios with bad weather and consumption increases for both natural gas and electricity. This is why under this program we increased the storage amounts (water in reservoirs, gas and coal). In all cases, winter fuel stocks are higher than the estimated needs, some even double the necessary amount,” said Toma Petcu.

According to the minister, although Romania’s gas consumption has dropped following the disappearance of several large consumers, the gas amount stored this year is 1.6 percent higher than in 2016.

Petcu explained that currently Romania cannot extract more than 30 million cubic meters of gas per day from deposits and another 26 million cubic meters from storage facilities. Romania’s consumption on a normal winter day stands around 50 million cubic meters of gas, therefore the combined 56 million cubic meters a day from the current production and storage facilities are more than enough. Stocks of electricity resources are higher than last winter too, Petcu added.

The Minister of Energy also pointed out that Romania has mutual contingency assistance conventions with neighboring states, mentioning that such a convention has already been concluded with Bulgaria and negotiations are underway for similar agreements with Hungary and Serbia.

“This is, if you want, an additional precaution, although since the beginning of the year Romania has been a net exporter of energy. In the end, I want to emphasize this once again: the energy system has been severely neglected in terms of investment and maintenance, and we must be aware that it won’t be able to work indefinitely without investing, and this is the focus of my ministerial term. … Henceforth, investments will be at the core of the business policies of every company under the coordination of the Ministry of Energy,” said Toma Petcu.

Ion Sterian, general manager of the national gas transmission company Transgaz, has recently stated at the hearings before the parliamentary commission for the inquiry into the activity of ANRE energy regulator that the gas stock for this winter is the lowest in the last 4 – 5 years and Romania will have to increase imports by 30 percent in order not to cut off consumers.