Recently, the management of JSC “Moldovagaz” urged the population of the Republic of Moldova “to reduce the gas consumption and if possible, to switch to alternative fuel.” Obviously, this statement is a consequence of the expected reduction in gas supplies to the country: Moldova (without Transnistria) negotiated with Gazprom the supply of 54 million cubic meters of gas – around 67% of the estimated monthly demand of 80 million cubic meters. This circumstance alarmed the energy-intensive companies from the agri-food sector, in particular, apple concentrate.
According to Speranța Con, the Association of Canned Fruit and Vegetable Producers, at the moment the regional divisions of Moldovagaz have not notified the apple concentrate producers about the reduction in gas supply. Nevertheless, in the context of the events taking place on the energy market and the aforementioned statement of Moldovagaz, the managers of these companies consider such a prospect as “highly probable”.
Many of the largest concentrate producers have biofuel energy infrastructures such as wood chips and dry apple pulp. However, such equipment is capable of meeting the needs of producers by a maximum of 15-20%. At the same time, some canning plants have already tried to buy additional volumes of wood fuel from forestry enterprises but were refused, motivated by the fact that, as directed by government agencies, they supply the population with firewood as a matter of priority. Representatives of canning consider the use of diesel fuel or fuel oil as energy resources an even more problematic option.
In the current situation, the Speranța Con management considers the prioritization (at the government level, or the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Agriculture) of industrial gas consumers according to the “priority level” the least painful option. Accordingly, processors of perishable agricultural raw materials should be included in the group of economic entities supplied with gas as a matter of priority and in sufficient quantities. Otherwise, a reduction in purchases of industrial apples – and according to the forecast of 600 thousand tons. Half of the harvest this season is suitable only for processing and this can lead to very serious economic and social consequences for the apple growers.
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