Romania's OMV Petrom is ready to press on with a multibillion euro investment in the giant Black Sea gas project it holds with ExxonMobil once Bucharest's new government lifts regulatory barriers to doing so, it said on Monday.
A final investment decision on tapping the Neptun deepwater block after a decade of exploration was stymied last year by changes to offshore laws and new taxes that a former, socialist-led cabinet levied on the energy industry.
OMV Petrom's Chief Executive Christina Verchere told Reuters in an emailed letter that "timely decisions" on this legislation will be important in removing barriers to investment and de-risking the project.
"We're prepared to start multibillion-euro investments for Neptun Deep once all the barriers are removed," she said.
The new centrist government led by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban won parliament's vote of confidence on November 4 after ousting a socialist-led cabinet in October.
It has pledged to amend energy-related legislation and help unlock Black Sea gas projects to make Romania fully energy-resource independent and a key regional gas exporter.
Romania's Black Sea hydrocarbon reserves could allow the country to challenge Russian energy giant Gazprom's dominant role in supplying Central Europe and help import-dependent states in the region to diversify energy sources.
State-owned gas producer Romgaz said last month it was considering buying a 15-20% stake in the Neptun project from Exxon, its executive director Adrian Volintiru said.
The field was estimated to hold 1.5 trillion to 3 trillion cubic feet (42 billion-84 billion cubic meters) of gas.
"To develop large-scale projects, investors need, firstly an economically viable (framework for) the project with fiscal stability and predictability," Verchere said.
"It is the same with Neptun ... (we need a) regulatory framework in place, fiscal stability and competitive terms, a liberalized market and development of gas infrastructure."
(Editing by Jan Harvey)