Gas crisis threatens industry in Eastern Europe

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From salami makers to fertilizer producers, industries in Eastern Europe are being forced to cut output as the shut-off in Russian gas supplies risks deepening the economic crisis already plaguing the region.

Manufacturers in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia were among countries most affected by government-decreed gas rationing or outright shortages after all Russian gas deliveries through Ukraine were cut off for a second day on Thursday.

Slovakia, which depends fully on Russian gas and declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, ordered 1,000 companies across the country, including the local plants of South Korea's KIA Motors Corp and France's PSA Peugeot Citroen, to reduce their consumption levels to have enough gas for households, hospital and schools.

Bulgarian Economy Minister Petar Dimitrov said 152 companies have reported losses totaling to euro4.3 million ($5.9 million) per day because of the forced interruptions.

In Hungary, power plants were asked to switch from gas to other fuels, mainly oil or even coal, and gas rationing measures were blamed for production stops announced by carmaker Magyar Suzuki, Canadian train carriage manufacturer Bombardier and even Pick, makers of Hungary's most famous salami, among others.

While disruptions in Poland were limited, the country's largest fertilizer maker, Zaklady Azotowe Pulawy, was expecting to curb production by around 10 percent as a result of the gas shortage, company spokesman Grzegorz Kulik said.

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