Romania is set to start exploring its shale gas reserves in a drive for energy independence, despite local protests against the potential risks and Europe-wide concerns about the technology used to exploit unconventional gas sources.
Several oil companies have expressed interest in exploring what is believed to be the country’s significant potential. According to an assessment by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary may together be sitting on top of about 538 billion cubic meters, or 19 trillion cubic feet, of technically recoverable shale gas reserves.
The U.S. energy company Chevron has, since 2010, obtained concessions in Romania, covering a combined area of 870,000 hectares, or 2.2 million acres, in the Eastern plains and the Black Sea coastal region of the country. After surface prospecting, the company is planning to start an exploratory drilling campaign this year.
“Chevron believes that Romania holds potential for a successful project,” Thomas Holst, country manager for the company, said in an interview.
“We are in the early days of activity. No wells have been drilled,” Mr. Holst said: “That is why it is critical to conduct a standard natural gas exploration.”
Chevron’s plans have resulted in protests by environmental advocate organizations and local politicians.