According to the head of state, the Black Sea gas deposit might start being exploited “sometime during 2015-2017.President Traian Basescu said yesterday, during a visit on the sea drilling ship Deepwater Champion operated by ExxonMobil, that Romania has the prospect of total energy independence and might be a source of gas not just for itself, but for other countries of Europe as well.“In 2011, Romania consumed 14.2 billion cubic meters of gas, of which 11.4 billion from local production and about three billion from completion imports. Calculate yourselves how many years the discovered deposit would last for us, so we no longer import gas. It is clear that Romania has the prospect of total energy independence and, if the other deposits to be prospected will indicate similar quantities, Romania can be a gas source not only for itself, but also for many other countries of Europe,” Basescu said, quoted by Mediafax.President Basescu added that Romanians should not expect the Black Sea deposit to enter exploitation immediately, because it must first be prospected, so the gas will start being extracted “somewhere in 2015-2017.” Speaking about his visit on the ship, Basescu said he was impressed: “Not necessarily by the shipping equipment, but especially by the drilling machines and the equipment used to keep the ship in place during storm. This is a ship that can be compared to what you saw in Star Trek.” The head of state initially wished to go aboard the ship on February 4, but bad weather forced him to cancel the visit.On February 22, OMV Petrom and ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Romania announced a significant discovery in the Black Sea, with preliminary estimations speaking about 42-84 billion cubic meters of natural gas, equivalent to Romania’s consumption on 3-6 years. The drills conducted by the two companies in the Black Sea started at the end of 2011 and are about to be completed, OMV Petrom announced. The deposit was discovered after drilling the Domino-1 well by ExxonMobil, the first deep sea operation off the Romanian coast, at a depth of more than 3,000 meters. Domino-1 is located in the Neptun Block, 170 km off the coast, in waters with the average depth of 930 meters, reads the release. ExxonMobil and OMV Petrom intend to continue the operations this year, with the next phases being determined by the results of seismic data acquisitions, the companies announced. The Romanian gas market increased by 3 pc last year, to 14.2 billion cubic meters, according to data released Wednesday by OMV Petrom. The Exxon-Petrom find in the Black Sea is equivalent to 3-6 times the annual domestic demand, given the reserves estimated by companies.