Romgaz bids to replace Exxon at Romanian field
Romania's state-owned Romgaz announced on April 1 it had filed a binding offer to acquire ExxonMobil's 50% interest in the XIX Neptun Deep block off the country's coast, containing an 84bn-m3 gas discovery.
ExxonMobil has been looking to exit Romania for almost two years, as part of its staged plan to withdraw from Europe's upstream sector completely. It is understood to have held talks with several parties interested in its stake in the Neptun Deep find over that time, including Poland's PGNiG and Russia's Lukoil. The project's operator controlling the remaining 50% interest is Austro-Romanian group OMV Petrom.
Romgaz said its bid was conditional on the approval of its shareholders, without disclosing how much it had offered ExxonMobil.
OMV Petrom had hoped to take a final investment decision on Neptun Deep's development in 2018 but delayed the move after Romania's government introduced a controversial offshore law in late 2018, increasing gas producers' taxes and imposing sales restrictions on them.
Romania's current government led by prime minister Florin Citu, which assumed office in December, is drafting changes to the offshore law to increase the appeal to investors. But damage has already been done. Neptun Deep is now expected online no earlier than 2025, and local press claimed in November that Russia's Lukoil was seeking to sell its stake in Romania's offshore EX-3-Trident exploration block.
ExxonMobil also struck a $1bn deal in February to sell a package of UK assets to Neo Energy, backed by Norwegian private equity group HitecVision.