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As gas consumption in soars in sub-zero temperatures, experts say the country will have to fork out for pricey imports from Russia.
For the third consecutive day this week, natural gas consumption in Romania was around 20 per cent higher than it is on an average winter day.
"Lower temperatures have sharply increased consumption of natural gas,” an economy ministry official, Claudiu Stafie, confirmed.
He detailed that gas consumption on Wednesday reached 70 million cubic meters, compared to 57 million cubic meters on an average winter day.
Severe winter weather, with treacherous roads, power outages and cancelled trains and flights, has gripped most of Romania since January 26.
The extreme cold is also boosting heating consumption. Meteorologists warn that temperatures as low as minus 27 degrees are expected until Friday.
Experts say Romania is facing a huge bill for extra imported gas.
“Romania can’t extract more gas from its own fields, so it will have to increase fuel imports," says economic analyst Ilie Serbanescu.
"As most of this gas is coming from Russia, Bucharest will have to spend more money, in order to allocate gas to the most needy.”
In most winter months Romania’s obtains about 80 per cent of its gas needs from domestic sources and imports another 20 per cent from Russia.
Three years ago, Romania was not affected too much by the gas crisis caused when Russia's Gazprom cut off natural gas supplies to Western Europe. The Balkan country usually has gas reserves for around three months.
But in the cold snap of winter 2010, freezing temperatures strained the country's gas stores and this year it may be the same story.
“Bucharest risks facing the same situation if the government does not act responsibly,” Serbanescu added.
Fourteen persons have died of cold in Romania in recent days, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday. Six died in the last 24 hours.
Nearly 350 persons have been transported by emergency services to hospitals and social assistance centres in recent days to save them from freezing in the streets.
The lowest temperature registered so far this winter was minus 32.5 degrees Celsius in Covasna county, central Romania.
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