Lukoil seeks to dispose of its stake in Romanian Black Sea perimeter

By bne IntelliNews November 10, 2020

Russian oil company Lukoil wants to sell its 87.8% stake in the EX-3-Trident perimeter in Romania's Black Sea offshore area, according to the CEO of Romanian state-owned gas producer Romgaz, which holds a minority 12.2% stake in the project.

"We received this letter from Lukoil. We will have a discussion with them. We don't know their reasons yet," said Romgaz CEO Adrian Volintiru, speaking about a letter sent by the Russian group to oil companies potentially interested in the perimeter.

Asked whether Romgaz could discuss with Lukoil taking over the 87.8% stake, the Romgaz CEO said that "theoretically it is possible to discuss”.

Lukoil's decision comes after a well drilled by the Italian company Saipem did not confirm the optimistic forecasts regarding the perimeter's hydrocarbon reserves.

In 2015, the natural gas reserves in the perimeter were estimated at 30bn cubic metres (bcm), based on the Lira 1X exploration well and seismic data.

Lukoil is the second big investor that wants to pull out of an offshore gas project in Romania's Black Sea after US group ExxonMobil.

Notably, Lukoil was one of the investors initially indicated as interested in taking over ExxonMobil's stake, which prompted the Romanian government to change the regulations so as to be able to block a potential sale to undesired investors on national security grounds.

Romgaz is also reportedly in the race for ExxonMobil's stake in the Neptun Deep offshore project, where the other shareholder is local group OMV Petrom. The start of exploitation projects in the Black Sea has also been delayed because of changes to the Offshore Law passed by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) in 2018.

The ruling National Liberal Party (PNL) wants to amend the Offshore Law to bring it closer to investors' expectations early next year, after forming a more stable majority in parliament.

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