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Romanian 2006 energy imports rise 3.1% as production declines

Energy production declined in Romania last year, forcing the country to import more natural gas to fuel a growing economy, the National Statistics Institute said.

Domestic output of oil, coal, natural gas and electricity from hydropower and nuclear plants 0.3% last year from the year before, to the equivalent of 24.6 million barrels of oil, the institute said in an e-mail today. Imports rose 3.1% to 17.4 million barrels of oil equivalent, or about 40% of the country's energy needs for 2006, the institute said.

Romania's GDP grew more than 8% in the first three quarters of last year from the same period of 2005, increasing demand for energy. The government predicts rapid growth for this year as well, spurred partly by the country's entry to the European Union on Jan. 1. Imports of natural gas last year rose 14% as output by producers including Romgaz SA and Petrom SA fell 1.6%. Imported gas accounted for a third of the total in Romania last year. Oil output last year dropped 8.3% as imports were little changed, the institute said.

Coal production rose 11% and imports dropped 5.6%. The institute said output of electricity from Romania's nuclear plant and hydroelectric facilities rose 4.7% to 28.1 billion kilowatt-hours as imports declined 57% to 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours. Romanian President Traian Basescu has said he wants to encourage growth of domestic output, particularly nuclear power, and decrease imports of gas, about half of which comes from Russia. (Bloomberg)