OMV Petrom is resuming its operations in shallow waters in Istria, where drilling began in late December, according to an article titled “Emerging Europe: Energy Giants Are Increasing Operations in Romania’s Black Sea” by G4media. A second drilling operation will soon begin at a depth of 2,500 m below the seabed, at a point where the water is about 60 m deep.
“According to Chris Veit, CEO of OMV Petrom in charge of the project, the Black Sea is of strategic importance for domestic gas production, which currently covers almost 10% of Romania’s annual gas consumption.”
OMV Petrom operates in Istria and Neptun Deep, in partnership with ExxonMobil. Licenses for drilling in the Black Sea are still held by American Black Sea Oil and Gas, as well as Russian Lukoil, who last November announced his intentions to sell 87.8% of its shares in the EX-3 Trident block where, based on 2015 figures, reserves could exceed 30 billion cubic meters of gas. Romgaz, which holds the remaining 12.2%, is the most likely buyer.
Romania has not yet adopted its new National Energy Strategy, the report notes, although in 2020 it published a new strategy for 2020-2030 with forecasts until 2050, which envisions new gas-based energy sources natural gas, but also the transition from coal to natural gas. New power plants are planned to run on natural gas with a combined energy capacity of 1600 MW and future funding from the European Green Agreement as a major source of funding.
Last year, Alma Pop, chief financial officer of OMV Petrom, warned that by 2030 Romania would import 40% of its gas needs if the gas is not extracted in the Black Sea.
However, interest in these mines weakened in 2018 when the PSD government over-taxed marine energy profits. The current government has promised to change the law to please investors.
Of the current Romanian Black Sea programs, BSOG’s VX Midia and Pelican XIII are more likely to get the green light to start production, having set the second half of the year as a starting point. However, the company has announced that before production starts, it will wait to see the new legislation.