While the depletion of energy resources causes concern for most countries which are focusing on energy efficiency, Romania goes against the tide as authorities in Bucharest consider allowing all consumers in Romania to use natural gas from domestic production only. So far, Romanian natural gas consumption was 70% covered by domestic production, with the rest covered from imports.

The split was established so that national natural gas reserves, which are limited, be preserved.

Economy minister Adriean Videanu announced during hearings in a Parliament commission on Wednesday that a possibility was analyzed that all consumers receive natural gas from domestic production. For that to be possible, the natural gas law, dated 2004, would have to be changed. The legislation was already changed a week ago, when the obligation of industrial consumers to cover their consumption from both domestic production and imports was lifted for a six-month period.

The measure was taken under the claim of protecting the Romanian industry against the effects of the economic crisis, as natural gas from domestic production is much cheaper.

But the measure was discriminating as it did not refer to household consumers. In these circumstances, the Economy Ministry is considering to change the law to take these consumers into account as well.

Should such a measure be applied, all consumers will use natural gas at lower prices for six months. The measure would be appied until autumn, when presidential elections are scheduled in Romania.

That means that Romania's national reserves would deplete at a faster pace. According to the 2007 energy strategy, the current natural gas reserves are evaluated at some 180 billion cubic meters. Romania's annual consumption stands at about 17-18 billion cubic meters. The strategy says the natural gas deposits are limited and that domestic production has been declining since 1990.

With 70% of consumption covered from domestic production, reserves would be depleted in 14 years. Without imports, Romania will remain without natural gas earlier.