Oil companies start new drilling off the Romanian shores

Oil companies start new drilling off the Romanian shores


By Daniel Stroe – Bucharest

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Romania Limited, the local unit of the US oil giant, and OMV Petrom, the largest player on the internal oil and gas market, have started exploring a new prospect in the Neptun block off the Black Sea coast, the two companies today announced.

The new drilling well, Pelican south-1, which is about 155 kilometers of the Romanian shores, will test a new geological structure in the Neptun block. The drilling will be done by the oil platform Ocean Endeavor.

In July, OMV Petrom, a company controlled by the Austrian group OMV, announced it has discovered new reserves of oil in shallow waters off the Romanian coast of the Black Sea, but production wouldn’t start sooner than 3 to 4 years,  reads a press release of the company.

The discovery of the new oil reserves was made in the Istria perimeter, about 60 kilometers away from the shore and 2.1 kilometers under the sea bed. The water in that sector is 50 meters deep. If the reserves prove profitable, production could start in 3-4 years, with the overall production costs rising to more than 100 million Euros, the text further reads. The first estimations of the production tests show a potential production of 1,500-2,000 barrels per day. In comparison, OMV Petrom had an overall daily production of 78,400 barrels per day in 2013.

In February 2012, the two companies had announced discovering gas reserves between 42 and 84 billion cubic meters in the Neptun block which could cover the national consumption for a period of up to six years. Early this month, the Ocean Endeavor oil platform finished drilling of the Domino-2 well and the data obtained are being assessed, a press release of the two companies reads.

“Exploring for oil and gas in areas where such activities hadn’t been done before is very complex and detailed and it often may take years to be finalized (…) The Black Sea region plays a central role in our strategy and we ascribe significant technical and financial resources for the offshore projects. We are encouraged by the good results we have got so far in both shallow and deep waters. Despite this, most of the deep water activity in the Black Sea is a pioneering activity, in so far unexplored areas, which involve high risk investments and thus requiring a stable investment framework”, John Knapp, general manager of ExxonMobil’s subsidiary in Romania, is quoted in the press release.

Romania already ensures 80 per cent of its energetic needs out of its own resources – oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and hydro-energy, while the remaining 20 per cent consists in gas imported from Russia.  Apart from the large reserves of gas and oil in the Black Sea, Voice of America also quotes the US administration which estimates Romania has shale gas reserves of about 1,400 billion cubic meters, the third largest such  reserves in Europe, after Poland and France.