The extraction of natural gas in the Black Sea is scheduled to begin at the end of the current decade and the exploitation of the reservoir which is believed to last for ten years could give Romania energy independence from the point of view of natural gas, said OMV Petrom CEO Mariana Gheorghe. ‘This discovery that we call the Domino 1 well is an estimation of cca. 42 to 84 bn m3 of gas accumulation. Production could begin sometime at the end of the current decade, towards 2018’, Gheorghe said on the ‘20 Years Later’ Pro TV programme on Sunday. She pointed out that data was currently under evaluation and that more exploration wells were still needed. ‘After that, we will need to produce other seismic data to see what other possible exploitation points there are in the entire perimeter. Later on, towards the middle of this decade, we will decide on whether or not it is commercially viable to move on to the development phase, to the actual investment’, Gheorghe said. Exxon Mobil Exploration and Production Romania Limited, a subsidiary of US Exxon Mobil company, in December 2011, together with OMV Petrom, started drilling in an oil field in the Black Sea which is a concession held by the Romanian company. At the beginning of the year, PMV Petrom and Exxon Mobil announced a significant discovery by their Black Sea explorations, with preliminary estimations counting on 42-84 bn m3 of natural gas, which stands for 3 to 6 times Romania’s annual gas demand. ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Romania is preparing for the next two years an investment of up to USD 1.23 bn in oil drilling and associated operations in the Black Sea. The head of the Austrian OMV group, Gerhard Roiss, has recently told the Manager magazine that the group had found in the Black Sea ‘a giant reserve of oil and gas, a world-size discovery’. Gheorghe added that, if the exploitation of the gas deposits discovered by OMV Petrom in the Black Sea proved to be cost effective, Romania could gain independence from the point of view of its natural gas needs, replacing ‘imports from the Russian’. ‘In the next few years, over 50 per cent of the need for primary energy resources will come from hydrocarbons, oil and gas also in Romania. The second thing is that, having in mind the gas situation, since we are now speaking of gas, 70 per cent of the quantity of natural gas Romania uses is locally produced and 30 per cent is imported. If this exploitation turns out to be commercially viable and successful, we will have the chance of becoming energy independent from the point of view of gas demand in Romania’, Gheorghe added. According to the OMV Petrom CEO, in order to be able to extract ‘the first gas molecule’, investments of several billions of euros need to be made in Romania, an investing effort with a contribution to the GDP, state budget and job market. One of the consequences of the exploitation of Black Sea gas reserves is going to be a smaller gas bill paid by Romanian consumers, according to the OMV Petrom official.