Table of Contents
The key topics for Romania’s energy sector remain i. the renewable energy support [to be trimmed down], ii. the natural gas market liberalisation and iii. the new royalties for natural resources extraction to be enforced by the government as of 2014 amid what it looks like a vibrant upstream activity.
What we foreseen from the very beginning eventually happened: the high energy prices prompted by the robust support given to renewable energy producers have a visible negative impact on the real sector and on the households. The government considers adjusting the system, but it has not decided yet whether to amend or not the law 22-/2008 itself – or only to enforce the mechanism built-in the law for avoiding overcompensation. The real problem is that the mechanism specified in law 220 cannot deal with overcompensation of projects already commissioned. This can be done only by cutting the maximal value of the tradable green certificate – which is, by amending law 220. This is naturally more complicated than simply enforcing a mechanism already stipulated in the law.
The natural gas liberalisation was already sketched last year under the new electricity and natural gas law. Higher end-user consumer prices are likely to push down consumption to the point where Romania could become self-sufficient. The challenges stems not from enforcing the law itself – but from setting up the institutional and physical infrastructure needed by smooth functioning of the market. The government is already late in setting up a natural gas exchange to be operated by the electricity market operator OPCOM, as promised to the IMF. An even higher obstacle is the lack of connections with neighbouring countries and particularly the lack of alternative gas suppliers apart from the two major local producers and the Russian gas. The new gas produced in the Black Sea would provide certain diversification since half of it would be owned by ExxonMobil. But genuine alternative sources of foreign natural gas are critical for the functioning of the domestic and regional gas markets.
The government already started talks with OMV Petrom on amending the oil and gas extraction royalties. Current royalties expire at the end of 2014. In the meanwhile, the government introduced an interim taxation system aimed at the supplementary revenues/profits generated by the natural gas market liberalisation. The government will charge 60% of the supplementary profits. Separately, the government enforced supplementary taxes on the companies that exploit natural mineral resources – a substitute for higher extraction royalties. The supplementary taxes are supposed to remain in force by the end of 2014 – visibly replacing on short term the higher taxation supposed to be enforced afterwards.
Romania also set up for this year an ambitious privatisation programme for its state-controlled companies. It plans to sell 51% in CEN Hunedoara mining/power holding [5% of national electricity] and sell 15% in its other mining/generation holding CEN Oltenia [30% of the country’s electricity]. A 10% IPO at hydropower company Hidroelectrica is considered as well as a similar 10% IPO at Nuclearelectrica and a 15% IPO at Romgaz.
Romania’s use of raw energy resources decreased by nearly 3% y/y to some 34mn tonnes oil equivalent in 2012 adding up to a plunge of nearly one fifth [18%] over the past six years since the 42mn toe in 2006. Net energy intake [the gross intake less electricity export and petroleum products exports] edged down a mere 1.6% y/y to 30.9mn toe in 2012; the energy intake remains visibly below the pre-crisis level.
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