U.S. firm Stratum Energy to boost gas production in Romania

Romania's Energy Minister Razvan Nicolescu gestures during the Reuters Eastern Europe Investment Summit in Bucharest October 1, 2014. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - U.S. firm Stratum Energy said on Thursday it would invest $150 million next year to expand its gas production business in Romania.

Romanian Energy Minister Razvan Nicolescu said on Wednesday Stratum Energy began delivering gas to the national system a few days ago, becoming the country’s third gas producer after state-owned Romgaz and Petrom, majority-controlled by Austria’s OMV.

The company said it was currently producing 450,000 cubic meters per day of gas and 100 cubic meters per day of a condensate and light crude mixture via two operating wells at its block in the eastern Romanian county of Bacau.

Stratum said it had so far invested $70 million in Romania, including building a pipeline that connects it to the national gas grid operated by state firm Transgaz, through which it can deliver up to 4 million cubic meters per day.

Its development plan will be submitted for approval to the country’s agency for mineral resources this year.

“Subject to the approval ... production is expected to increase to one million cubic meters per day in the first quarter of 2015 when two more wells will be drilled, completed, and connected for production,” Stratum chief executive Qasim Sharif said in a statement.

Romania is the third-most energy-independent state in the European Union, with a mix including gas, coal, hydro, nuclear and renewable energy, and unlike many of its emerging European peers it imports only a fifth of its gas needs from Russia.

Reporting by Luiza Ilie, editing by David Evans