March 20 (Bloomberg) -- OMV Petrom SA, Romania’s biggest oil company, is analyzing the potential for shale-gas exploration in the eastern European country.
Petrom, majority owned by Austria’s OMV AG, will decide on the next steps based on the results of a preliminary assessment and Romanian and European legislation, Chief Executive Officer Mariana Gheorghe said today in a live chat on hotnews.ro. OMV Petrom will update its business strategy throughout 2021 by mid-year, she said.
The government is weighing the possibility of adopting a law for shale-gas production because Romania lacks adequate regulations, Prime Minister Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu said on March 14. Chevron Corp., which has licenses to explore three blocks in Romania to search for unconventional oil and gas reserves, plans to begin shale-gas drilling in the country later this year.
Romania may have a “significant potential” for developing shale-gas fields, according to Alexandru Patruti, head of the national Mineral Resources Agency.
Eastern Europe may hold as much as 7.1 trillion cubic meters of shale gas, according to the Energy Information Administration’s estimates. Poland, which according to the EIA, may have about 5.2 trillion cubic meters of shale gas, already granted more than 80 exploration licenses.
Neighboring Bulgaria banned hydraulic fracturing, used to exploit shale gas amid protests that it will pollute the water and soil and withdrew Chevron’s exploration license in January. France also banned the process, which uses a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to open fissures in shale rocks to release gas and oil.
OMV, central Europe’s biggest energy producer, ruled out on Jan. 23 the use of chemicals when it employs fracking techniques to tap Austrian natural-gas reserves.
Petrom’s shares were unchanged in Bucharest trading today and closed at 0.39 lei, valuing the company at 22 billion lei ($6.6 billion).
-- With assistance from Zoe Schneeweiss in Vienna. Editors: James M. Gomez, Alan Purkiss
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at firstname.lastname@example.org