Petrom: Imported gas price to reach USD 545 for 1,000 m3

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Romania imported natural gas worth USD 8.5 bln in six years, Romgaz officials say.

The price of natural gas imported via Russian intermediaries will soar to USD 545 for 1,000 cubic meters in October, while authorities maintain the price of locally extracted gas at USD 160, Hilmar Kroat-Reder, Board member of OMV Petrom in charge with gas and energy operations told yesterday a conference on natural gas issues organized by Saptamana Financiara magazine, Mediafax informs.

According to data provided by the Romanian Energy Regulatory Authority (ANRE), the price of imported gas has increased from USD 399 to USD 480 for 1,000 cubic meters during January and July. ANRE also estimates that the average import price will reach USD 495 for 1,000 cubic meters in Q4 this year. From 2004 to 2010, Romania imported natural gas worth USD 8.5 bln in total.

Last week, ANRE announced that the price of natural gas for industrial consumers will increase by 8 pc as of October 1st, while the price paid by population and thermal energy producers stays at its current level. ANRE justified the increase through the higher price of imported gas, from USD 460 for 1,000 cubic meters of gas – the price taken into consideration when prices were modified in July – to USD 495. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged the Executive to come with a phased calendar of liberalising the price of natural gas by 2013, in the case of companies, and from 2013 to 2015 for the population. The liberalisation of prices also refers to the electricity sector.

On the other hand, between 2004 and 2010, Romania imported natural gas worth USD 8.5 bln, which is “very much,” the Romgaz manager in charge with the sale of gas, Dumitru Chiselita told the same conference. “It is unlikely that we will be able to become 100 pc independent of imports,” he added.

Over the aforementioned interval, Romania made the highest payments for the gas imported from Russia, with the peak level of USD 2 bln being reached in 2008.

Alternatives considered

Romgaz is looking into alternatives to diversify import sources of natural gas, including the Caspian Sea area and Western Europe,  Dumitru Chiselita, Romgaz marketing director said.

“We don’t plan to export gas, yet we think of making direct imports. While we don’t eliminate Russia, we nonetheless orient ourselves to Western Europe and developing markets, including the Caspian area, the Sah Deniz deposit”,” Chiselita told a natural gas seminar.

Romgaz is under import contracts with WIEE and Imex Oil – intermediary companies agreed by Russian group Gazprom. The contracts expire on Dec 31, 2012. Until last year, the two companies, which take the gas from Gazprom, had mediated all of Romania’s gas imports.

In 2010, a gas pipeline began operating at the Romanian-Hungary border, whereby Romania imports gas from Western Europe too, yet a low amount related to consumption.

Asked whether Romgaz will extend the contracts with gas importers, Chiselita said a relevant decision is yet to be taken.

“We are set up a new marketing vision with several scenarios in mind. Once we draft it, we will know whether to negotiate import contracts,” he also said.