Romania asks Russia to enhance natural gas supplies

Romania has asked Russia to increase its natural gas deliveries, after gas shortages were reported parts of the country amid a cold spell with temperatures as low as minus 30 C (minus 22 F). Economy Minister Codrut Seres said pressure on one of the import pipelines from Russia was 10 percent to 15 percent was lower than agreed levels, and Russia to increase the supply. The government has asked large industrial users to halt their activity until Friday when temperatures are expected to return to normal. It has also ordered utility companies to switch to alternative fuels such as coal and heating oil and Romania imports about 40 percent of its gas from Russia, with the rest being produced locally.

The cold temperatures were blamed for at least 15 deaths and prompted residents to double their normal gas consumption, causing shortages at the periphery of the gas system, including in the capital.

The country's two gas producers Romgaz and Petrom have stepped up extraction and tapped into reserves, but their efforts have failed to balance the gas system, with the country's south and northeast left in the cold.

In Bucharest, several schools closed Wednesday after being unable to heat classrooms. Many residents which used gas furnaces to heat their homes were forced to switch to electric heaters or sought shelter with relatives that are connected to the city's heating system, which operated normally, reports the AP.

D.M.