Press Review (Jan 7)

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The cut-off of supply of natural gas at Isaccea (south-eastern Romania) as an outcome of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the stand of the Romanian authorities in this respect, the decision of the National Bank of Romania (BNR) of not modifying the interest rate of monetary policy, the religious services held by the Romanian churches for the celebration of the Epiphany are the topics tackled on Wednesday by Romanian dailies.
 
Even if Gazprom will cut off the supply of natural gas at Mediesu Aurit, too (north-western Romania, where imports of natural gas are made), Romania can withstand without the import of Russian natural gas for minimum 4 months, daily Financiarul reports.
A third of the natural gas consumed in Romania comes from Russia.
 
Romania produced last year 11.3 billion cubic metres and consummated almost 18 billion cubic metres. The difference was covered by the import from Russia from Gazprom, via Naftogaz, the Ukrainian company that coordinated the transport of natural gags to Romania. The natural gas enters the country through a pipeline that goes through Dobrogea from Isaccea to Negru-Voda (south-east). Because of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine since Tuesday this pipeline no longer supplied natural gas.
 
If the situation continues, Romania may compensate the gas deficit from underground storages, of which most belong to state company Romgaz. Today, Romgaz capacity is of 2.8 billion cubic meters and the company's officials say the storages are full. Allowing for the lack of imports, the amount covers the normal consumption in only four months.
 
According to Business Standard, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine might trigger rise in energy price for Romania, higher imports and production of heating oil, but also problems as regards the supply of medium and big-sized consumers. The same daily mentions that the diminution of natural gas reported last night was of 32% and the heat power substations switched to crude oil.
 
Daily Romania libera informs that the Romanian authorities claim that turning off the tap at Isaccea will not affect the population's supply. "I do not believe we'll have problems for population this winter," said minister of economy, Adriean Videanu and PM Emil Boc.
 
In the context, daily Ziua informs that PM Emil Boc stressed that steps have been taken with a view to informing the European Commission on the issue of natural gas. He had a phone conversation with European Commissioner on energy Andris Piebalgs to inform him about the cut-off of deliveries of Russian natural gas and received assurances that he would get involved together with president of the European Commission to find a solution.
 
During the phone conversation, the European commissioner on energy policy said that together with president of the European Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso, would get involved in order to find a solution of the supply of natural gas.
 
On the other hand, minister of economy Adriean Videanu talked with representative of Gazprom in Bucharest, who said that the situation is not prompted by the Russian concern. Under these circumstances, minister Videanu said at the government's headquarters that the authorities would call for clarifications to the Ambassador of Ukraine in Bucharest.
 
Employers associations call on the Government to immediately adopt anti-crisis plan of measures for the relaunch of the economic activity, through which companies be encouraged to resume production and employ people, considering ever more big-seized companies with high shares in the constitution of the GDP (gross domestic product) were halted, daily Business Standard reports.
 
"We could not overcome the crisis otherwise than working. We understand Government's concern about the protection of underprivileged segments of the population, threaten by the economic crisis, but of vital importance is also the support by the Government of those who want to work and of the business climate which generates jobs and wealth, said on Wednesday CEO of the National Confederation of the Romanian Employer's Associations (CNPR) Cristian Parvan.
 
"The National Bank of Romania (BNR) postpones the relaxation of crediting", headlines daily Business Standard. The National Bank of Romania decided on Tuesday to not change the interest rate of the monetary policy, maintaining it al the level of 10.25% and refusing to provide, at least for the time being, a signal for the relacation of crediting, although lately the population's and companies' debts to loans have grown a lot.
 
The average exchange rate in 2009 will be of over 4 lei/euro, Business Standard report, referring to the analysts' estimates. Chief analyst of the Romanian Commercial Bank (BCR) Lucian Anghel said that in the next three-four months the exchange rate might reach a threshold of 4.25 lei for one euro and the average exchange rate estimated for 2009 is above the level of four lei for one euro.
Most dailies report that on Tuesday all Romanian churches held services occasioned by the baptism of Jesus Christ.
 
At the Patriarchy's Cathedral in Bucharest, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR) Daniel held the Epiphany service in front of thousands of believers. As many as 5,000 litres of holy water were taken home by the believers who came to the Patriarchy.
 
About 3,000 believers attended on Tuesday on the Danube's bank at Galati (south-eastern Romania) the religious service held by Bishop of the Lower Danube, Rt Rev. Casian Craciun. According to the tradition, after the religious service, Bishop Casian Craciun threw in the Danube a wood cross for which six men jumped in the freezing water.
In Constanta 30 men jumped in the Black Sea to bring to the surface the three crosses thrown in the water by Archbishop of Tomis, Most Rev. Teodosie.
On Wednesday, Romanian Christians celebrate John the Baptist, who baptised Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.
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