Romania Sees Black Sea Gas as 'Game Changer' for Region

© Remus Rigo / Adobe Stock
© Remus Rigo / Adobe Stock

Potential extractions from a long-awaited deepwater gas field in the Black Sea could mean countries in the region can finally cut their dependency on Russian energy, Romania's foreign minister said on Friday.

Romanian oil and gas group OMV Petrom said on Feb. 2 it was "closer than ever" to embarking on its Neptun Deep gas project.

The company, majority owned by Austria's OMV, has said it would make a final investment decision by mid-2023, with the first gas expected in 2027.

Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, minister Bogdan Aurescu said he was hopeful the project would now move ahead.

"This is an effort we have been taking for quite some time to be able to start exploitation of the largest part...," he said.

"The exploitation of the main resources should start end 2026/2027 and from that point we will be able to also provide (gas) to the other (countries)."

Romania relies less on Russian gas than its neighbors. It produces about 90% of its required gas locally through Petrom, state producer Romgaz and Black Sea Oil & Gas (BSOG).

BSOG, controlled by private equity firm Carlyle Group CG.O, launched its offshore gas platform in Romanian waters of the Black Sea last year.

"It's a game changer for the region," Aurescu said. "When we (are) ... able to start production from the Romanian continental shelf we will be able to help Moldova and other neighboring countries who are heavily dependent on Russian gas."

Moldova, whose parliament on Thursday approved a new pro-Western government, relied heavily on Russia's Gazprom GAZP.MM for gas imports until the operator slashed its supplies last year, forcing Moldova to seek alternative sources.

(Reuters - Reporting by John Irish; editing by John Stonestreet)

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