By Ana Maria Touma
Politicians and gas company chiefs have attended the official presentation of the country’s biggest natural gas deposit in three decades – as Romania furthers its bid to become a regional energy hub.
Romanian energy company Romgaz on Thursday inaugurated Romanian’s biggest onshore natural gas deposit in three decades, with Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and ruling Social Democrat chief Liviu Dragnea attending, the government announced.
Romgaz, Romania’s most profitable state-owned company, announced the discovery of the deposit estimated at 150 to 170 million boe – barrels of oil equivalent – in Caragea, Buzau county, northeast of Bucharest, in June 2016.
The new deposit is set to brighten the company’s prospects after its net profit dropped in 2016 by 14 per cent, due to higher imports, lower demand for gas in key sectors and a global decrease in gas prices.
Production also dropped by a quarter and sales were down by 17 per cent last year.
The gas company, together with Austrian-owned OMV Petrom, control almost all natural gas production in Romania. According to Romgaz, the company is continuing to explore seven on-shore locations in the country.
OMV Petrom, the largest oil and gas producer in Southeastern Europe, together with Romanian Hunt Oil Company last year also started the experimental exploitation of a gas deposit, also in Buzau region, where the group has invested 17 million euros.
In the next couple of years, Romania is also set to start exploitation of gas in two sites in the Black Sea. Black Sea Oil&Gas, a Romania-based company of Carlyle International Energy Partners, is set to start gas exploitation in 2018. US company Exxon and Romania’s biggest oil company OMV Petrom will follow suit in 2020.
To facilitate the extraction of natural gas from the Black Sea, the country is also due to start construction of the BRUA [Bulgaria – Romania – Hungary – Austria] project by the end of the yea. Works are scheduled to finish at the end of 2019.
According to Energy Minister Toma Petcu, once off-shore exploitation kicks off, Romania could become a regional energy player. Romania accounts for almost 80 per cent of naural gas produced in Southeast Europe.