The Lower Chamber adopted yesterday, with an overwhelming majority (256 votes in favor, 1 against and 3 abstentions), a draft law that bans natural gas exports, hotnews.ro informs. All parties backed the draft law initiated by President of the Commission for Industries and Services Iulian Iancu (PSD).
Paradoxically, the law was adopted on the day that represented the deadline for Romania to eliminate legislative barriers to cross-border trade in electricity and natural gas.
Eliminating these legislative obstacles was a condition included in the memorandum of understanding signed by the EU and Romania.
According to the Official Gazette, the government should have presented by December 15 a plan for the natural gas exports and imports flows at the border with Hungary. However, instead of adopting measures that would have allowed natural gas exports, the Parliament voted a law that bans exports.
The law will be sent to the President for promulgation and will then be published in the Official Gazette. Iulian Iancu stated that “unprecedented measures” are needed given current market conditions. Iancu added that both the government and the presidency consider that these unprecedented measures have to be taken for a determined period of 3-5 years. He added that Romanian authorities have to expedite the coming into use of interconnection pipelines for export, that being a commitment that Romania took before the European Commission.
Contrary to the backing that the draft enjoyed from the ruling coalition parties, the government did not back it, arguing that the draft fails to respect the European directive concerning the norms for the common natural gas market and the regulations on measures meant to guarantee the security of natural gas supplies. The draft has a single article that stipulates the modification of natural gas law 351/2004. “Ensuring the security of natural gas supply – natural gas from internal production will be put to good use only on the internal natural gas market, with the exception of the case in which the production of natural gas surpasses internal consumption for at least two consecutive years,” the MP’s draft reads.
Likewise, if internal natural gas deposits are about to run out, “the draft law basically represents a provision that bans natural gas exports,” the government pointed out. According to the government, the draft ignores technical problems that may appear as a consequence of shutting down natural gas rigs because of low consumption and of the impossibility of storing the natural gas.
On the other hand, according to the approved law, Romanian companies will not be able to export natural gas until alternative sources of imports are secured. “Ensuring the security of natural gas supply by putting to good use natural gas from internal production only on the internal natural gas market until sources of natural gas imports are diversified,” a paragraph reads.