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"Life with energy scarcity 101" by Irina Slav substack - ...Winter is coming...

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Life with energy scarcity 101

Energy scarcity seems to be descending over Europe slowly but surely and while the focus continues to be, for now, on teaching people to consume less energy, reports are emerging with the word “blackout” in the headline. I hate to be trite but winter is coming. And we might as well prepare for what back in the 80s we called a power supply schedule.

As the name suggests, scheduled supply means that you don’t get power around the clock. Blackouts are implemented for a certain period every day. The worse the supply situation, the longer the blackouts, see Pakistan’s latest troubles with that.

They were in double-digit blackout territory and because I always root for the underdog I won’t forget to mention that these blackouts were largely caused by soaring LNG prices, in turn caused by Europe’s dash for storage refills. The refills are going well, by the way, north of 70% so far and the target is 80% by October 1. Well done, Europe! Now for the electricity bills.

Electricity is already becoming prohibitively expensive for a growing number of people in Europe. In the UK, bills are expected to soar above 4,000 pounds, possibly reaching 5,000 pounds, per year in 2023. And yes, the UK government is preparing for blackouts this winter.

What do you do in a blackout during the winter? Well, if you have a fireplace that uses wood (and you are allowed to use it), be grateful. If you’re unlucky enough to live in a place with central heating coming from gas or electricity, buy a jacket or a couple of blankets. And change your habits.

I usually start cooking around 6 pm. It normally takes me no more than half an hour and then it’s in the oven or on the burner. In case of blackouts, like the ones in Romania in the 80s, I would have to change that and cook much later at night… probably for the next day because dinner at midnight is a bit of a a stretch, even for us.

According to sources who were older than me during the mid-80s blackouts in Bulgaria (the winter of 84/85) so they have a better recollection of them, the schedule was three hours on, three hours off, although in some places they were one hour on, four hours off.

So, you had to fit in your energy-intensive activities in three-hour slots followed by three-hour slots with no electricity. Imagine the peaks that would appear on an electricity consumption graph. There was a joke at the time that seen from the sky, Bulgaria must have looked like a disco club (it was the 80s, the Disco Era).

I remember my mother springing into action when the power was on, fitting in cooking, laundry and hoovering into that three hour slot. It’s not exactly difficult, one might say and one will be right. Yet it isn’t exactly pleasant as well to have to cram everything in a three hour slot instead of taking it at your own pace.

So, if blackouts are on the cards, get ready to reorganise tour daily schedules, even if you don’t cook, clean or do laundry. Because even if you do not do any of these things, you will need to charge your electronics. And you will need to keep track of when the blackout will occur so you can charge them ahead of time.

You will also need heating. And as I mentioned earlier, if you happen to live in a place where the heat and the electricity comes from the same place and that place is subject to blackouts, congratulations, you just joined Irina’s Freezers Club!

In the winter of 1997/98, I lived in Cambridge, England, at average temperatures of between 10 and 12 degrees. The reason had nothing to do with energy scarcity. The reason was that my room was on the top floor of my landlords’ house, the radiator was faulty and the heat simply did not reach it fully.

I couldn’t get a heater (the landlady didn’t allow it and I understood why), so I learned to get out of bed really quickly in the morning, get dress really quickly and rush downstairs to the kitchen to warm up before going to school. By a stroke of luck, a fellow Bulgarian whose room was a floor below mine had just adopted a boyfriend so whenever I could I slept in her room in her absence.

It is because of this experience that I tend to switch to grave irony whenever I read about the latest pseudo-moral statement by a European politician. I still remember how cold and miserable I was every single freezing day in the winter of 1997/98. None of those politicians, I bet, has ever experienced a similar degree of thermal discomfort. And I had it way better than a lot of people who are either homeless or cannot pay for their heating so they are forced to turn it off completely. You can die of cold.

And then I remember someone on Twitter saying that Europeans should shut up and suck it up because look at what the Ukrainians are going through. How being cold and miserable would help the Ukrainians was unclear but that sort of attitude is one that will change very fast when the temperature drops below zero. But wait, there’s more.

Blackouts not infrequently go hand in hand with hot water “outs”. One doesn’t need a lot of imagination to visualise showering with cold water in December even if one has electricity-independent heating supply. To put it mildly, it is not pleasant.

Back in the 80s, hot water outages were a regular thing in the summer when the Sofia thermal plant, which supplies heating and hot water, shut down for maintenance. It still does, by the way. But back in the 80s, when our huge Soviet-made immersion heater entered the scene.

We heated buckets of water, then we mixed it with tap water and filled the bathtub for a sublime bathing experience. And if there’s not enough energy for water pumps, it’s not just hot water that becomes unavailable.

That’s when you have a proper “waterout”. And that is when you begin to fully appreciate the miracle of plastics because if you want to be prepared, you’d fill any available receptacle with water and plastic water bottles make by far the best receptacle — unbreakable and easy to turn into an improvised water tank for washing hands and cutlery, also food.

I know this from first-hand recent experience. Water pump problems in the area where I currently live are, while not as frequent as they used to be, still more frequent than we’d like them to be. This Wednesday, there was no water from 10 am to about 8 pm. The bottled backup got into action, although it is less than perfect for showering. Praise be to the 10-litre plastic waster bottle.

That might sound bad enough but that’s because most of you have no idea how Romanians lived in the 80s, courtesy of their dictator’s “rationalisation” policies, which, as far as I can understand, came down to cutting all manner of local consumption sharply in a bid to boost exports and, respectively, hard currency income for a government that was dead set on cutting debt.

Here are a few choice bits of Romanian reality from back then, graciously supplied by one of my readers here, Valentina Marinescu, who, like my husband, lived through it. A thousand thanks for the information, which made me tear up and recall how my mother-in-law, who spent most of her life under Ceausescu, once said “Am I sorry that he got shot? Like hell I am! He deserved it!”

The provision of adequate food, housing, and health was no longer taken for granted. Schools and the extensive apartment complexes that housed the newly urbanized population saw regular electricity and heating cuts during subzero temperatures because an expanding industry struggling to meet the export targets of the regime needed more electricity. Industry earned precious hard currency, so consumers had to endure daily blackouts, even though the country produced more electricity than Spain and Italy.

But Europe today has the opposite problem, right? It cannot produce enough electricity because of governments’ series of smart choices made over the last decade or so. Be that s it may, the result may end up being quite similar to what was happening in Romania at the time.

Electricity and central heating were restricted as well. During the busiest hours of the day, private homes were left without electricity, the same happened at night as well. As far as heating was concerned, as it was mostly centralized it was easy to control the amount of hours the citizens would have access to hot water and heating – it was irrelevant whether it was summertime or in the middle of a harsh winter.

General illumination would be reduced by 50% and local illumination will be introduced. By 15 December 1982, 14, 20 and 40W (lightbulbs) would replace all high voltage fluorescent tubes. It was likewise forbidden to use any electric heating appliances, with the exception of places where there were activities outside normal hours of central heating system working hours. A schedule of hours in which to use lights and electric outlets [was implemented]. Room temperature had to be strictly followed [no more than 16 d

egrees Celsius during the winter per a 1988 decree] and [the temperature of] hot water was no higher than 50-60 degrees.

Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?

In all fairness, I don’t really believe it will get to be as bad as this in Europe this winter. However, if challenged to explain why I don’t believe it will get to be as bad as this in Europe this winter, I would run into a difficulty.

Full storage caverns do not mean uninterrupted and abundant supply of gas to last until spring. Europe will need a lot more for a relatively painless winter. And that can’t all come from the U.S. for simple export and import capacity reasons, not to mention costs. Winter is coming and so is pain.

Irina Slav on energy

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Last speech of Nicolae Ceaușescu, 21. December 1989

(90 seconds) - The people are pissed and are not complying.  Nicolae is shocked.

Trial and execution of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu
The trial of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu was a short trial, held on 25 December 1989
It should be noted that during the full speech, Nicolae promised an increase in Universal Basic Income (UBI),,,which ironically is something many countries now mimic...but UBI does not raise the quality of life when Authoritarians dictate how people live their lives.
Short history in 90 seconds below...

Anniversary of the final days of Ceaușescu regime


During the FREEDOM CONVOY in Canada, ...

A Naturalized Canadian Woman from Romania Gives a Speech for the Ages

Of course, our world is moving towards a Totalitarian Technocracy and YOUTUBE/Google has deleted her speech.

Here it is...

"Communist Romania Story & How To Revolution" Okanagan Freedom Convoy Pt.2 #IrnieracingNews Feb.19

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A Worrying Signal From Oil Traders Of A European Recession

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Aug 13, 2022 - 07:10 AM

Authored by Irina Slav via,

  • While politicians and economists might debate exactly what constitutes a recession, the reality of an economic slowdown is impossible to ignore.

  • The most recent signal that Europe may soon face a recession comes from oil traders, who are selling European gas oil futures while buying U.S. diesel futures.

  • It is not surprising that Europe is more at risk of a recession than the U.S. as it is hugely vulnerable to an energy shortage and will have to pass the high prices on to consumers.

Recession has always been a politically sensitive word. Today, it has become so sensitive that some economists and politicians are trying to redefine it to make it lose some of its sting. The reality of a recession, however, is impossible to redefine. In Europe in particular, consumers are feeling the slowdown in economic growth in their wallets, and so are traders. There is one big difference between the two though. When a recession is looming, consumers curb spending. Traders, on the other hand, begin selling.


Reuters’ John Kemp reported in his latest hedge fund column that hedge funds and other institutional traders sold the equivalent of 1 million barrels of European gas oil futures over the past three weeks. While this may not sound like a lot, over the last six weeks, total sales have added up to 20 million barrels. A significant reduction in the net position of traders. 

Across the Atlantic, hedge funds and money managers have been buying U.S. diesel futures and options, increasing their position by 13 million barrels over the last three weeks. Kemp suggests this is a signal that the economic outlook of U.S. traders is brighter than that of their European peers.

It might be that U.S. traders are simply looking to profit from the diesel shortage Kemp himself wrote about earlier this month. He noted that U.S. distillate fuel inventories have fallen to critical levels, and it would take a recession to remedy things by destroying demand. Otherwise, diesel prices will only continue rising and traders would buy diesel futures.

Be that as it may, the danger of recession in Europe is certainly a lot more serious from an energy perspective. Unlike the U.S., which is rather self-sufficient when it comes to natural gas, Europe has revealed itself to be as embarrassingly dependent on imports of the commodity. A dash for gas has followed, where Europe is scouring the world for friendly gas, under a spot contract, if possible. It has not always been possible.

As a result of this, Europe is now diverting cargoes from Asia, which is not making it any friends there, and trying to consume less energy. Thanks to excessive prices, it is consuming less energy. Germany is preparing for energy rationing for industrial users and encouraging household austerity. Spain is mandating air-conditioners be kept at 27 degrees or above. And Norway just announced that it would curb its electricity exports to the EU.

Norwegian electricity normally goes to the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark. However, hydropower output, which accounts for the bulk of Norway’s total electricity output, has been low this year, and the country is trying to secure local sufficiency. More bad news for struggling Europe, where renewable power output remains uneven.

The picture is not pretty, and earlier this month, the IMF signaled it could become even worse as it advised European governments to pass on the additional energy costs to consumers to encourage energy savings. The fund argued that financial aid only keeps energy consumption high when it should be going down.

Meanwhile, Nomura analysts recently forecast that the eurozone, along with the UK, the U.S., South Korea, Australia, and Canada, are among the countries facing recession in 2023.

“Right now central banks, many of them have shifted to essentially a single mandate — and that’s to get inflation down. Monetary policy credibility is too precious an asset to lose. So they’re going to be very aggressive,” Nomura’s head of global markets research, Rob Subbaraman, said last month.

Add to this central bank aggressiveness the equally aggressive stance the EU is taking in its standoff with Russia, and there’s a recipe for recession right there. 

Reuters’ Kemp predicted that at least four European economies will fall into a recession before the year’s end. Unfortunately, it’s the four largest - Germany, France, Italy, and Britain - which means the pain will be felt across the bloc and the rest of Europe, too. The silver lining: fuel prices might begin to fall once a recession settles in.

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