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Can Romania ease Europe’s Russian gas dependency?

Recent sanctions exchanges have left the EU looking to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, and one option is Romania – the country’s National Agency for Mineral Resources (ANRM) recently announced plans to offer a further 35 blocks for licensing at the start of next year, hoping to turn Romania into a net gas exporter by 2020.

Conventional and shale discoveries have brought Romania’s growing petroleum industry into global focus, and the government is keen to get more international players involved. Romania's energy minister Razvan-Eugen Nicolescu told an industry event in Houston recently that his government is encouraging companies to be ambitious with their drilling and probe depths of over 3,000m, also saying that “good signals (have) been coming from American companies” with regard to the licensing announcement.

Romania’s last licensing round, in 2010, has led to some big onshore and offshore discoveries, including the huge Domino 1 find in 2012 of a potential 84bcm of gas drilled by US supermajor ExxonMobil and Romania’s Petrom.

Net exporter by 2020                                 

Although the Black Sea country currently gets 20% of its gas from Gazprom, ANRM’s president Gheorghe Dutu said this June that Romania aims to become a net exporter by the turn of the decade. With neighbouring Bulgaria – and other countries like the Baltic nations and Finland – still 100% reliant on Russia for their gas, and Germany and Poland also looking to diversify, Romania’s oil and gas industry is set for rapid development to fulfil its potential as a major supplier to European markets.

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