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Major discovery of gas reserves in Black Sea gives Romania hope of becoming fully self-sufficient in energy.
A newly discovered natural gas deposit in Romanian territory in the Black Sea may offer the possibility of temporary total self-sufficiency in energy, as its reserves are estimated to be six times Romania's annual consumption.
Preliminary estimates put the undersea gas deposit at anything between 42 and 84 billion cubic metres. Furthermore, four or five other gas deposits will soon be revealed in the same area, according to officials.
“Romania has the prospect of obtaining total energy independence. If several other deposits... have the same amounts of gas, as we suspect they do, our country will become a source of gas for other countries in Europe as well," President Traian Basescu said early this week after visiting a drilling ship belonging to energy company ExxonMobil.
Exploitation of the Black Sea "Neptun" field, where ExxonMobil together with Austria’s OMV Petrom will drill, is expected to start in 2015, after more examinations.
According to an initial estimate, the total amount of investment needed to exploit the gas deposit could be about $10 billion.
The Balkan country currently produces about 11 billion cubic metres of gas a year, representing about 80 per cent of its annual needs.
It imports the remainder exclusively from Russia. Bucharest is looking to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, mainly by diversifying gas supply routes.
Romania was a major oil producer back in the 1930s. In 1937, when it produced 7.2 million tons, Romania ranked seventh in the world in terms of oil production.
Nowadays, Romania still produces some oil, at around 3.5 million tons per year, but this level of production isn't nearly enough to make the country self-sufficient.
Now, facing a growing need for cash, Bucharest is planning to award new oil and gas concessions in the Black Sea region.
Alexandru Patruti, head of Romania’s Mineral Resources Agency, ANRM, said recently that the global crisis had kept investors away from auctions held last year, but he hoped that new blocks put up for auction would attract investors.
Romania awarded exploration licenses for five offshore blocks in 2010, with OMV Petrom, Exxon Mobil Corp, Petro Ventures Europe BV and Russia's Lukoil among the companies searching for oil and gas in the Black Sea.
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