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    ExxonMobil strikes deal to exit Romania

Summary

The US major is exiting the European upstream sector.

by: Joseph Murphy

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ExxonMobil strikes deal to exit Romania

ExxonMobil has reached a deal to sell its 50% stake in the Neptun Deep gas discovery off the coast of Romania to local state-owned firm Romgaz, the latter company announced on October 6.

Pending shareholder approvals, the deal is expected to be closed in the first quarter of 2022. At this point, operatorship at Neptune Deep will be transferred from ExxonMobil to Austro-Romanian producer OMV Petrom, which owns the other 50% interest in the project.

ExxonMobil has been seeking an exit from Romania for several years, as part of a staged withdrawal from the European upstream sector. The US major sold its Norwegian upstream operations in late 2019 to  Var Energi, a joint venture between Italy’s Eni and Norwegian private equity player HitecVision, for $4.5bn. It also agreed a $1bn deal in February to sell a package of UK assets to Neo Energy, backed by Norwegian private equity group HitecVision.

Neptun Deep contains 84bn m3 of gas, but ExxonMobil and OMV Petrom have repeatedly delayed taking a final investment decision on the project, citing controversial changes to Romania's offshore law in late 2018 that among other things introduced restrictions on where gas can be sold as well as price caps.

Romgaz signed an exclusivity agreement to buy  ExxonMobil's stake in Neptun Deep in June. The company already has a position in the offshore Trident prospect in Romania, operated by Russia's Lukoil.