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Austrian, Romanian energy firms to tap Black Sea gas

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The Local/AFP - [email protected]
Austrian, Romanian energy firms to tap Black Sea gas
Picture taken on May 3, 2022 shows a general view of the largest Austrian refinery OMV at Schwechat near Vienna, Austria. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

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.

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Austria's OMV Petrom, in partnership with Romgaz, their Romanian counterpart, has announced a substantial investment of up to €4 billion ($4.4 billion) in the Neptun Deep project. This project encompasses one of the largest gas deposits in Europe.

The deep-sea deposit is estimated to contain around 100 billion cubic meters of recoverable gas, positioning Romania as the leading gas producer in Europe, according to OMV.

The anticipated commencement of gas production is set for 2027.

OMV CEO Alfred Stern emphasized that the Neptun Deep project is expected to provide a dependable and secure energy source in the region. Both companies have approved the development plan for the Domino and Pelican South natural gas fields located within the offshore Neptun Deep block.

READ ALSO: ENERGY: How Austria has drastically reduced imports of Russian gas

The plan is subject to approval by the Romanian National Agency for Mineral Resources, as noted by the group.

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Romania's parliament recently amended a law in May 2022 that had previously hindered offshore investments, ending a period of significant delay. This law was a contributing factor to ExxonMobil's withdrawal from the Neptun Deep project at the end of 2021, after jointly investing approximately $2 billion with OMV.

Notably, Romania possesses substantial gas reserves both onshore and offshore. With Moscow's invasion of Ukraine last year, Europe has been actively seeking to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas.

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