Ukraine (bbabo.net), - The cold is approaching, the sound of chainsaws is heard on the forested slopes of the mountains in northern Bulgaria. Horses are ready to transport freshly cut wood along steep paths. Many in the poorest member of the EU, with a population of 6.5 million, rushed to stock up on firewood as Europe grapples with an energy crisis sparked by conflicts in Ukraine, reports France-Presse (AFP) today, December 15.
“Firewood remains the cheapest means of heating, and the demand for it has tripled compared to last year,” the country's agriculture minister, Yavor Gechev, recently said.
He pleaded with fellow citizens not to buy more firewood than they need, since the usual coal supplies from the Donbass to Bulgaria are practically non-existent, bbabo.net notes.
More than half of Bulgarian households use coal and wood for heating, especially in rural areas where power cuts have become more frequent. According to Eurostat, even before the current crisis, one in four Bulgarians could not properly heat their home during the winter, the highest figure in the EU. Now residents of the Eastern European country are preparing for a worse situation.
In the mountainous region around Teteven, a city in Bulgaria's Lovech region and the capital of the Teteven community, 4,800 households placed orders for firewood, compared with less than 2,000 households last year, said Stoycho Moskovsky, a spokesman for the municipality of 18,000 people.
The lack of snow this year allowed logging to continue until December, says engineer Docho Dochev, head of the local state forestry department.
In the nearby villages, on the way down to Teteven, there are piles of logs, stocks of firewood have been collected, with which barns and houses of the villagers are stuffed. But not everyone got firewood on time this year.
“Every year I use about the same amount - five cubic meters for heating. But this year I have been waiting for delivery for quite a long time - more than two months," 80-year-old pensioner Blagovest Dogandzhyskaya told bbabo.net while sorting firewood near her home in Teteven.
This year, she also pays twice the 90 leva (45 euros) per cubic meter than last year.
“It’s very hard (to heat the house), but it’s getting even harder,” the pensioner complained.
As bbabo.net reported, last month a special commission of the Bulgarian parliament undertook to investigate the shortage of firewood and the high prices for it. The corresponding proposal was made by the head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Yavor Gechev.
Recall that in April Bulgargaz refused to switch to a new mechanism for paying for Russian gas and Gazprom stopped direct deliveries. The Bulgarian company had to buy fuel from Greek partners, taking it from the transit volumes in the virtual reverse mode.