British, Dutch firms to drill for oil in Romania
The Romanian government has granted oil and gas drilling rights in the Black Sea continental shelf to three companies from Britain, Romania and the Netherlands, official sources said Thursday.
A consortium made up of Britain's Melrose Resources and Romania's Petromar Resources will drill in two offshore blocs awarded in 2009 to Romania by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after a dispute with Ukraine, Alexandru Patruti, president of the Mineral Resources Agency, told AFP.
A third bloc will be explored by the Dutch Petro Ventures Europe, he added.
The three companies will invest a total of $240 million over the next three years in drilling operations, the government said, stressing that each block measured some 1,000 square kilometres.
In 2009, Romania was awarded by the ICJ some 9,700 square kilometres out of a total of 12,400 under dispute with Ukraine.
Experts say the area may contain up to 100 billion cubic meters of gas and 10 million tonnes of oil.
Romania has also amended legislation on offshore drilling, scrapping the need to obtain a building permit first, a move that has long been called for by oil companies.
"This action is very welcome as it removes a major obstacle for offshore work by any operator in the Romanian Black Sea," Canada's Sterling Resources said in a statement.
"We are delighted that one of the major issues in our dispute in Romania has been solved," Mike Azancot, President and CEO of Sterling Resources, stressed.
The decision will also enable Petrom (part of OMV group) and Exxon Mobil to carry on with their joint offshore drilling project on a 10,000 square kilometre bloc.
© 2011 AFP