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Greeks turn to wood amid rising heating oil prices

12-20-2011 11:32 BJT

ATHENS, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Recession-hit Greek people turn off central heating due to high oil prices and use wood for the fireplace and stoves instead to tackle the cold front that hits the country this week and winter, according to local experts of the market.

Since this weekend a major part of the mainland experiences heavy showers, the average temperature has dropped to 17 degrees Celsius on average, while many ships remained docked at ports on Monday due to strong winds at sea.

As Greek households try to limit their expenses due to salary cuts and a wave of taxes imposed by the government to address a severe debt crisis, wood stoves for those who do not have a fireplace, have become a popular alternative and are making a comeback after decades.

The dramatic decline of sales of heating oil of up to 25 percent on average in cities and 50 percent in the countryside from late October to early December this year in comparison to last year, according to the Federation of Petrol Station Owners (POPEK), shows a dark reality of real economy in Greece.

"Nowadays people don't buy heating oil in these prices," said POPEK's President Michalis Kioussis, referring to prices that range from 93 to 97 cents per liter (1.21- 1.26 U.S dollars).

The cost is about 40 percent higher than last year, as the government introduced tax hikes on fuel aiming to raise revenues and meet budget targets under the EU/International Monetary Fund bailout package to avert a Greek bankruptcy.

The image is expected to worsen in 2012, as heating oil prices are expected to reach 1.50 euro per liter (1.95 U.S. dollars) due to an announced further tax increase.

In this gloomy era, people try to heat up their houses with firewood. The demand of firewood has increased by up to 30 percent in major cities and up to 80 percent in the countryside, according to representatives of the market of this low-budget alternative.

In Athens, sales of wood stoves that are on offer starting from 300 euros (390.39 U.S. dollars) this year have doubled compared to last year, according to some estimates.

On average, a Greek household that turned to wood will spend one fifth of the over 1,000 euros (1,301.3 U.S. dollars) households which use heating oil will spend this winter.

But wide wood consumption seems to have collateral damage on the environment. There have been many complaints made by environmentalists for illegal logging and increased pollution levels and smog.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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