Energy and Fuels

Energy and Fuels

Among the most pressing difficulties facing the republic's economy is a near total lack of energy resources. Moldova's own primary energy sources consist of small hydroelectric power plants on the Nistru River at Dubasari and Camenca (Kamenka, in Russian); minor thermal electric power plants at Balti, RÓbnita (Rybnitsa, in Russian), Ungheni (Ungeny, in Russian), and Chisinau; and firewood, all of which combine to meet only 1 percent of domestic needs. A coal-fired power plant was under construction at Cuciurgan (Kuchurgan, in Russian), in Transnistria, in 1995.

Another source of problems is the fact that almost 90 percent of power and 100 percent of power transformers are produced in politically troubled Transnistria. In addition, Transnistria's adversarial "government" has frequently disrupted the flow of fuels into Moldova from Russia and Ukraine.

Moldova has an electric power production capacity of 3.1 million kilowatts, and it produced 11.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 1993. By 1994 electricity production had decreased 14 percent in comparison with 1993. Over the same period, thermal electric production decreased 22 percent.

Despite its lack of energy resources, the country continues to export some of the electricity it generates to Romania and Bulgaria. However, these exports have been cut back (the countries receive electricity only to the extent to which they supply fuel). Some electricity shortages have occurred in Moldova, mostly in winter, and have been dealt with by rationing. Much of the country's generating equipment (which is not produced by Moldova) and approximately one-quarter of its transmission and distribution lines are in need of repair.

In the early 1990s, energy shortages were prevalent, and energy availability was sporadic, leading to disruptions in economic activity; imports of coal, natural gas, diesel fuel, and gasoline declined by an estimated average of 40 percent from 1991 to 1992. In 1994 the picture was somewhat different. Gasoline imports were up 33.6 percent and coal imports increased 15.4 percent, while imports of diesel fuel, mazut, and natural gas fell 25 percent, 51.5 percent, and 3.1 percent, respectively.

In 1994 Moldavia was dependent on Russia for 90 percent of the fuel needed for its electric-power generation plants: diesel oil (88,000 tons), gasoline (65,000 tons), fuel oil (365,000 tons), and natural gas (2.8 billion cubic meters). By March 1995, Moldova owed Russia US$232 million for fuel, with half of this amount owed by the "Dnestr Republic."

Moldova had started paying off this debt in goods, including agricultural products, but beginning in late 1994 the government paid these debts by giving Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled gas company, equity stakes in key Moldovan enterprises. In January 1995, Moldova gave control of Moldovagas, the state-owned gas company, to Gazprom.

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