WARSAW/BOGDANKA, Aug 27 (Reuters) – In Poland’s late summer season warmth, dozens of automobiles and vehicles line up on the Lubelski Wegiel Bogdanka coal mine, as homeowners scared of winter shortages wait for days and nights to refill on heating fuel in queues paying homage to communist occasions.

Artur, 57, a pensioner, drove up from Swidnik, some 30 km (18 miles) from the mine in jap Poland on Tuesday, hoping to buy a number of tonnes of coal for himself and his household.

“Toilets were put up today, but there’s no running water,” he mentioned, after three nights of sleeping in his small pink hatchback in a crawling queue of vehicles, tractors towing trailers and personal automobiles.

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“This is beyond imagination, people are sleeping in their cars. I remember the communist times but it didn’t cross my mind that we could return to something even worse.”

Artur’s family is one of many 3.8 million in Poland that depend on coal for heating and now face shortages and worth hikes, after Poland and the European Union imposed an embargo on Russian coal following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Poland banned purchases with a direct impact in April, whereas the bloc mandated fading them out by August.

While Poland produces over 50 million tonnes from its personal mines yearly, imported coal, a lot of it from Russia, is a family staple due to aggressive costs and the truth that Russian coal is bought in lumps extra appropriate for residence use.

Soaring demand has pressured Bogdanka and different state-controlled mines to ration gross sales or supply the fuel to particular person patrons by way of on-line platforms, in restricted quantities. Artur, who didn’t need to give his full identify, mentioned he had collected paperwork from his prolonged household within the hope of selecting up all their fuel allocations without delay.

The mine deliberate to promote fuel for some 250 households on Friday and would proceed gross sales over the weekend to minimize ready occasions, Dorota Choma, a spokeswoman for the Bogdanka mine informed Reuters.

The limits are in place to stop hoarding and profiteering, and even promoting spots within the queue, Choma mentioned.

Like all Polish coal mines, Bogdanka sometimes sells a lot of the coal it produces to energy crops. Last yr, it bought lower than 1% of its output to particular person purchasers so lacks the logistics to promote fuel instantly to retail patrons.

Lukasz Horbacz, head of the Polish Coal Merchant Chamber of Commerce, mentioned the decline in Russian imports started in January when Moscow began utilizing rail tracks for navy transport.

“But the main reason for the shortages is the embargo that went into immediate effect. It turned the market upside down,” he informed Reuters.

A spokesman for the Weglokoks, a state-owned coal dealer tasked by the federal government to increase imports from different international locations declined to remark, whereas the local weather ministry was not out there for remark. Government officers have repeatedly mentioned Poland would have sufficient fuel to meet demand.

In latest years, Poland has been essentially the most vocal critic of EU local weather coverage and a staunch defender of coal that generates as a lot as 80% of its electrical energy. But coal output has steadily declined as the price of mining at deeper ranges will increase.

Coal consumption has held principally regular, prompting a gradual rise in imports. In 2021, Poland imported 12 million tonnes of coal, of which 8 million tonnes got here from Russia and utilized by households and small heating crops.

In July, Poland ordered two state-controlled corporations to import a number of million tons of the fuel from different sources together with Indonesia, Colombia and Africa, and launched subsidies for homeowners going through a doubling or tripling of coal costs from final winter.

“As much as 60% of those that use coal for heating may be affected by energy poverty,” Horbacz mentioned.

Back at Bogdanka, Piotr Maciejewski, 61, an area farmer who joined the queue on Tuesday, mentioned he was ready for a protracted wait.

“My tractor stays in line, I’m going home to get some sleep,” he mentioned.

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Reporting by Marek Strzelecki and Kuba Stezycki, Editing by Ros Russell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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