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FGSz lifts gas restrictions on category II consumers

Hungarian gas transmission company FGSz lifted consumption restrictions on “category II” consumers that use 500-2,500 cubic meters of gas per hour.

Restrictions remain in place for “category I” consumers that use more than 2,500 cubic meters per hour.

FGSz said it would reintroduce the restrictions on category II consumers if necessary.

FGSz announced the restrictions on category I consumers on Tuesday evening and the restrictions on category II consumers early Wednesday morning after gas deliveries to Hungary from Ukraine were halted.

Among FGSz's category II gas buyers are tire maker Hankook, car maker Suzuki and tile maker Tondach, which all shut down or slowed production on Wednesday because of the introduction of the restrictions, as did many other companies.

Csaba Molnár, Hungary's minister in charge of energy affairs, said the restrictions had “saved” 9 million – 10 million cubic meters of gas on Wednesday. Two-thirds of this amount came from the restrictions on category I companies, he added.

Total gas consumption on Wednesday was 61 million cubic meters, 3 million less than expected because of the restrictions on big consumers and warmer than forecast temperatures, Molnár said.

The situation should improve on Thursday as 4 million cubic meters of gas will be delivered through the Baumgarten-HAG pipeline, which enters Hungary from Austria, Molnár said. On Wednesday, just 1.5 million cubic meters of gas was delivered through the pipeline.

István Kutas, the spokesman for E.ON Földgáz Trade, the Hungarian gas trade unit of Germany's E.ON, confirmed 4 million cubic metres of gas would be delivered through the pipeline, most of it from E.ON Ruhrgas and a smaller part for Gaz de France.

A daily 53.5 million cubic meters of gas can be taken out of Hungary's commercial stores now, Kutas said. Gas from the two biggest stores can be released at maximum capacity for 20 days. Afterward, they can operate at 90% capacity for weeks, he added.

Temperatures are expected to drop three degrees by Saturday, but are seen rising a little each day in the coming week, Molnár said. By the following weekend, temperatures are forecast at around minus 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Gas consumption countrywide rises 1.5 million - 2 million cubic meters for every degree the temperature falls.

A decision to make Saturday, March 28, a work day, rather than Saturday, January 10 (to make up for an extra day of holiday after New Year's Day) will save about 6 million cubic meters of gas, Molnár said.

Hungary's primary task is to ensure domestic gas supply, but if the situation improves, it could give gas to Serbia, though no decision on the matter has been made, Molnár said.

Serbia has no gas reserves and its takes delivery of about 95% of its gas via Hungary. Many Serbs in areas with district heating from gas-fuelled plants were without heat after gas deliveries from Ukraine to Hungary were halted. (MTI – Econews)