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Romgaz to acquire ExxonMobil’s 50% stake in Neptun Deep offshore gas project

The Romanian state intends to buy the entire stake of American ExxonMobil in the Neptun deep-water offshore gas field development project through National Natural Gas Corporation Romgaz, Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Environment Virgil Popescu told the state news agency, AGERPRES.

ExxonMobil announced in November last year its intention to sell its stake in the Neptun Deep project, which holds the largest offshore gas reserves found in Romania’s Black Sea section.

Romanian OMV Petrom, a part of Austrian OMV Group, holds the remaining 50 per cent in the project. The two operators have invested close to 1.5 billion US dollars in exploring the perimeter but have postponed a decision on its commercial exploitation due to the new offshore law adopted in late 2018.

Romania hoped that a consortium of Romanian state-owned natural gas producer Romgaz, OMV Petrom and another company could be established to make an offer for ExxonMobil’s stake in the Black Sea project.

Polish oil and gas group PGNiG was also for a long time among the prospective bidders interested in ExxonMobil’s stake. However, as the Minister informed PGNiG had given up plans to take over a part of the Neptun Deep deposit, without giving a reason for this decision.

The Minister now confirmed that the state would like to acquire ExxonMobil’s entire stake of 50 per cent, through Romgaz. They have have already notified OMV Petrom about the decision.

The Neptun block is estimated to contain natural gas resources of approximately 42 to 84 billion cubic metres (bcm), which is equivalent to three to six times the annual Romanian consumption. The project can also become a significant game-changer for energy security in the Central European region.

In early October, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Energy Niculae Havrilet said that the Ministry has worked out a draft amendment of the Offshore Petroleum Exploitation Law, which was agreed upon with Black Sea investors and will be put up for public debate before the general election but it could be approved only by the next Parliament.

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