Romania’s natural gas distribution network has increased 4 times in the last three decades, from 10,772 kilometers in 1990 to 43,563 kilometers in 2020, according to data synthesized by the National Institute of Statistics (INS). The average annual growth rate is 4.8%, with the highest advances over the previous year recorded in 1995 (11.58%) and 1994 (11.19%). The pace has slowed since 2005, with an average annual growth rate of 3.32%, and the best performance in 2007 (6.14%).
More than half of Romania’s population is still using firewood for heating, although Romania being the second-largest producer of natural gas in the European Union. The most affected are localities in rural areas, where less than a third of households have access to the natural gas network. Emil Drăghici, president of the Association of Romanian Communes (ACoR), considers, according to ZF, that the slow development of the natural gas distribution network comes on the one hand from the fact that there is no access to the network, but on the other hand due to connection costs for the population. “That free connection is actually not free, it must be paid in a few years after and then people had reservations,” says Emil Drăghici.
The length of the natural gas distribution network increased by 3% in 2020, compared to 2019, and reached 43,563 kilometers, for about 6.5 million customers, with an average annual consumption of about 9 billion cubic meters (bcm). For comparison, Hungary has 100,000 kilometers of gas pipelines and network coverage of 95% of households – about 4 million. It is true that Hungary benefits from a much favorable terrain, which allows for lower infrastructure investment and lower costs for final beneficiaries. In the Czech Republic, GasNet’s distribution network totals 46,500 kilometers, for 2.3 million customers consuming 6.7 bcm. In Spain, Naturgy has 49,000 kilometers of distribution network, for 5.3 million customers, with a total annual consumption of 16 bcm.
In 2020, natural gas was distributed in 956 localities of Romania, of which 247 in municipalities and cities, according to data published by INS. Minister of Energy Virgil Popescu announced that the government intends to double the number of households connected to the gas network in 4 years.
The average annual volume of natural gas distributed to the population was about 3 billion cubic meters, in the period 2000-2019, with a peak of 3.7 bcm, in 2000. On average, the volume of natural gas distributed to industry was about 7 bcm, with wider variations. Thus, in 2005, consumption exceeded 10 bcm, but stood at almost 6 bcm in each of the years 2017, 2018 and 2019.