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March 2, 2021
BUSINESS

Energy minister: Romania cannot take legal steps against Gazprom, intermediaries run the imports

Against the backdrop of the crisis in Ukraine, Gazprom is playing hide-and-seek with the countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The Russian giant’s embargo announcements today and the announcements concerning the lifting of that embargo in the following two days reveal its policy of toying with consumers in this region. This tactic stands out even more after Energy Minister Razvan Nicolescu revealed that Romania has no direct contracts with the Russian giant. Such situations exist in other states in the region too.
Romanian companies do not have import contracts signed directly with Gazprom, but with two intermediary companies instead: Imex Oil, a subsidiary of Russian Group Conef, and WIEE, a joint-venture between Gazprom and Germany’s Wintershall, Mr. Nicolescu stated for RFI.
The Energy Minister was asked what can Romania do from a legal standpoint, in the context in which Gazprom lowered its deliveries to Romania by 5 per cent on Friday, announced new cutbacks, subsequently resumed deliveries at normal parameters but did not point out what will happen starting on Friday.
“From a legal standpoint we can do very little because the contracts are between Gazprom Russia and certain companies that operate on the Romanian market, which also belong to Gazprom or are very close to Gazprom, but I repeat, I don’t believe there is anything good for anybody in this behavior, I kept trying to understand it, in recent days I have tried to talk to my counterparts from other EU member states, I tried to talk to those from the European Commission. It’s a behavior that will lead to the Europeans losing confidence in Gazprom as a safe and long-term supplier of natural gas,” Nicolescu stated. At the same time, both Gazprom’s Balkan dispatcher in Sofia and the Russian Embassy in Bucharest have refused offering official arguments for the lowering of imports.
“It is not in anyone’s interest for energy to become in any way a politically-utilized weapon. Those who are attempting to do this and who are thinking about it will probably stand to lose on the medium and long term. I have great confidence in the EU’s united reaction in the face of such a situation. I am gladdened by the involvement of the Energy Commissioner and of the European Commission’s director general responsible for the energy domain and I hope that eventually reason will prevail and Europe will not be faced with a natural gas crisis,” Nicolescu added.
“We have to start to get used to this situation, one that we will face more often in the following months. From the point of view of security of supply the quantities are absolutely insignificant and there will be no problems not even if the supplies were to stop entirely and were to resume only next spring, even if winter is extremely harsh,” Nicolescu explained.
He pointed out that he had talks with his counterparts in Bulgaria, Moldova and Serbia, informing them that Romania’s capacity to help them is extremely limited, with the exception of the Iasi-Ungheni interconnector.
“We hope that energy will no longer be used as a political weapon. I tried to talk to Russia’s ambassador in Bucharest, to find out what is the reason of this cutback, but I found it impossible, I was told he is not in Bucharest. Transgaz has so far received no answer for the cutback on Friday or for the one this week,” Razvan Nicolescu added.
At this moment Romania has 2.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas in storage and will have 2.8 billion at the end of the storing cycle, compared to the 1.8 billion cubic meters that the Regulation Authority estimates are necessary for this winter.
The country’s consumption totals 16 million cubic meters per day, and its production 32 million cubic meters per day. Imports total 0.2 million cubic meters per day during this time of year.

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