Romanian shale gas reserves could consolidate the country’s role as the largest gas producer in Central Europe. In May 2012, the government temporarily suspended permits for shale gas exploration while waiting for the results of the EU’s environmental studies on this energy source. In March 2013, Prime Minister Victor Ponta announced that the moratorium on shale gas exploration in Romania had been lifted. This decision could help boost domestic energy resources and reduce Romania’s dependency on Russian gas. 

Size of the opportunity

Romania’s National Agency for Mineral Resources has launched a study to determine the level of national shale gas resources, whilst a study conducted by the US Energy Information Administration, based on estimates made without exploratory drilling, has put Romania’s unproven wet shale gas technically recoverable resources (TRR) at a possible 1.4 trillion cubic metres (51 trillion cubic feet): the third largest deposit in Europe behind France and Poland. A November 2013 study by the National Romanian Committee of the Word Energy Council (WEC), signed by 43 specialists, revealed Romania has “good potential” for shale gas reserves in several areas of the country.

Existing concessions

Energy company Chevron holds a number of concessions in Romania – mainly in the Constanţa and Vaslui Counties – and has begun exploration work in late 2013. National energy corporation Petrom is also conducting preliminary analyses of its concessions and Romgaz, MOL, Sterling and East-West, and Zeta Petroleum have also all expressed an interest in further opportunities in Romania.

Impact on energy security

Romania depends on imports to cover about 20% of its overall energy needs, according to data from the World Bank. Natural gas makes up close to 30% of national energy consumption. Of the total gas imported in 2010, (17% of the country’s annual consumption) 98% of imports came from Russia.  The recent US Energy Information Administration study has reported that there could be enough domestic shale gas to meet the country’s needs for 100 years.

Impact on the economy

Aside from job creation, Chevron has said that its investment alone in the country could total $600 million over the next 15 years. This is before the investment of other oil and gas exploration companies is taken into account.

Government policy

The Romanian government has come out in support of shale gas, citing energy independence and a decrease in the price of gas as motivations to pursue shale gas avenues. Former Energy Minister Constantin Niţă has called for more exploration to determine the size of the shale gas deposits.  Prime Minister Victor Ponta has also endorsed shale gas, saying he supports both exploration and exploitation.

 Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta discusses shale gas