18 August, 2005
The government on Wednesday focused on the acute problem of skyrocketing oil prices vis-a-vis fuel consumption in the east Mediterranean country, with one of the announced measures foreseeing the replacement of oil-burning furnaces in public buildings with gas-powered ones by 2006.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas told reporters after an inner Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, that the measure will initially affect public buildings in the greater Athens and Thessaloniki areas as well as the Thessaly province. He also said natural gas connections with public schools and hospitals will be stepped up.
Greece is amongst the biggest importers, percentage wise, of crude oil in the European Union, while the country is also near the top of the list in terms GDP spending for energy.
On the legislative front, Sioufas said draft laws opening the way for better use of bio-fuels and renewable sources of energy will be tabled in September, along with an eagerly-expected bill on deregulating the power and natural gas sector in the country. Along those lines, the minister said licenses for three new natural gas providers are pending.
Finally, Sioufas said more capacitors will be set up on the national grid as part of efforts to conserve power, an initiative that has already produced results in south-central Greece and the Peloponnese.
Source: Athens News Agency