Romania could supply Moldova with electricity in winter, and Transgaz has just become Moldova’s gas transmission operator, given that Romania already exports gas along the Prut and ensures the transit of other gases through Dobruja, including for Moldovans.
Moreover, OPCOM, the operator of the energy exchange in Romania, was invited by the Chisinau government to take charge of the local exchange. In fact, Moldova found itself under Romania’s energy dome, economedia.ro writes. The Winter Program for 2023-2024, published on the website of the Energy Ministry, stipulates that Romania will supply Moldova with electricity if a special situation requires it, even by restarting some coal-fired power plants that are not operating now. It is specified that a special situation implies a serious power failure due to weather conditions or even an action, intentional or not, to cut off supplies from Ukraine, where there is a war, or from Transnistria, where most of electricity production for Moldova is concentrated.
Transnistria, although officially part of the Republic of Moldova, is actually a Russian-speaking separatist region that could theoretically cut off supplies to Moldova for political reasons. “In the current European energy context, mobilization of all available energy resources is mandatory. Namely, prompt provision, by all electricity producers, of the volumes of primary energy resources for the electricity’s supply for consumption, as well as of the reserves necessary to cover imbalances resulting from subcontracting on electricity markets, accidental outages of energy groups, malfunctions caused by special weather conditions, consumption’s increase beyond design values, etc., respectively, for the supply of electricity to the Republic of Moldova, if the energy situation in the region requires it,” document specifies.
Romania has an interconnection capacity of 200 MW with Moldova at 5 cross-border points, as shown in the Transelectrica scheme. The lines are bidirectional, allowing both export and import of electricity. Romania’s electricity generation capacity is about 10,000 MW, but much of it comes from coal-fired power plants, some of which are now closed. During the hot season, Romania can meet its domestic consumption and even export due to the large wind and photovoltaic capacities, which are considered priorities in the system, as well as to the historically low consumption caused by the shutdown of the energy consuming industry.
Electricity generation in thermal power plants is about 2000 MW (1000 coal-fired, 1000 gas-fired), for a total output of 6-7000 MW. In winter the consumption increases, but only slightly, except for very low longstanding temperatures. In this case, the system needs a significant coal contribution as these groups are switched on instantly. Exactly the same groups should be put into operation immediately to support the system in the Republic of Moldova, as wind and PV have large production fluctuations.
Regarding gas. The transfer of the National Gas Transmission System in the Republic of Moldova to Transgaz puts the Romanian company in charge of operating and transporting gas from the neighboring country. Transgaz, through its subsidiary in Moldova, Vestmoldtransgaz SRL, the company that manages, operates and transports gas through the Ungheni-Chisinau gas pipeline, has signed a Lease Agreement. According to this agreement Transgaz takes over the operating, dispatching and transporting natural gas in the Republic of Moldova, from the operator Moldovatransgaz SRL, starting from 19 September 2023. Thus, during the next 5 years, in accordance with the provisions of the Moldovan legislation, Transgaz will become the only operator licensed to provide the public service of natural gas transmission in the Republic of Moldova,” states the announcement sent to the stock exchange.
It means that the Romanian state-owned company Transgaz will take over all concerns related to the neighboring country’s gas system. In addition, Romania is already a gas supplier for Moldova: about 1 million cubic meters of gas passes through the Prut every day due to local production and/or transit provided by Transgaz. Romania partially takes over the gas supply of its neighbors, although most of the gas still comes from Russia under a long-term contract with Gazprom. Moreover, according to a recent statement by Transgaz director Ion Sterian, Moldovans store gas for the winter in Romanian underground storage facilities. Moldova’s annual electricity consumption is about 3.8 GWh and gas consumption is about 1.1 billion cubic meters. To compare, in Romania the annual electricity consumption is about 50 GWh and gas consumption is about 10.5 billion cubic meters.