Romania needs 15-30 bln euros in energy investment by 2030-ministry

BUCHAREST, March 14 (Reuters) - Romania’s energy sector needs as much as 30 billion euros ($34 billion) of investment in power, oil and gas production, mining and related infrastructure by 2030 to replace outdated plants and meet rising demand, a draft energy strategy showed on Thursday.

The European Union state is one of the bloc’s most energy-independent countries as a net exporter of power, although it has to import oil and about 10 percent of its gas needs.

The 2019-2030 energy strategy draft, for which the energy ministry is awaiting feedback by the end of this month, looks at investment in gas and power networks, interconnections and energy production.

The investment needs are estimated at 15 to 30 billion euros by 2030, with an additional 15 billion potentially needed between 2031-2050, the draft said.

But government policy towards investors has been unpredictable, making it hard for energy developers to draft long-term strategies and deterring investment.

In late December, the cabinet approved power and gas price caps and introduced a turnover tax without public debate or impact assessment.

Romania uses a mix of gas, coal, hydro, nuclear and renewable energy to generate electricity. But many of its generation plants are 30 to 40 years old and need to be replaced gradually, the draft said.

Adding two more units to Romania’s sole nuclear plant in Cernavoda on the river Danube was considered a top investment priority, although the government has been struggling for years to secure investors for the costly project.

Other objectives included building a 1 billion euro hydropower plant, developing smart grid and metering infrastructure, expanding interconnections for power and gas, exploiting offshore Black Sea gas fields and retrofitting coal-fired plants.

The draft said that in addition to their own capital, energy firms could tap EU funds and loans from international lenders such as European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank.

Funds from tenders under the EU’s greenhouse emission trading scheme could provide significant revenue, the ministry said, while the government could provide support schemes such as guaranteed power prices.

The draft estimates production would rise from 63 terrawatt hours (TWh) in 2017 to 77 Twh in 2030 and 86 TWh in 2050.

$1 = 0.8845 euros Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Mark Potter