Austrian, Romanian energy firms to tap Black Sea gas

 Austrian group OMV announced on Wednesday a long-awaited decision to tap a huge deposit of natural gas off Romania in the Black Sea as Europe seeks to diversify away from Russian supplies.

OMV Petrom and its Romanian partner Romgaz will invest up to four billion euros ($4.4 billion) in the Neptun Deep project, one of the largest gas deposits in Europe.

The deep-sea deposit contains an estimated 100 billion cubic metres of recoverable gas, which OMV says will make Romania the biggest producer of gas in Europe.

Gas is expected to start flowing in 2027.

“Neptun Deep is expected to provide a reliable and secure source of energy in the region,” OMV CEO Alfred Stern said.

Both companies approved the development plan for two natural gas fields, Domino and Pelican South, located in the Neptun Deep offshore block, the group said.

The plan still needs the endorsement of the Romanian National Agency for Mineral Resources, it added.

After much delay, Romania’s parliament finally amended in May 2022 a law unfavourable to offshore investments.

The law had notably prompted ExxonMobil to withdraw from the Neptun Deep project at the end of 2021, after having invested around $2 billion there jointly with OMV.

Romania has significant gas reserves on land and at sea.

Europe has sought to reduce its reliance on Russian oil and gas since Moscow invaded Ukraine last year.

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