The geographical position ofRomania, on the line between Europe and Asia, make the question on how thecountry will ensure energy security very crucial not only for its own wellbeingbut also for the whole European continent. Its proximity to Asia, where thereare important energy suppliers, and to the Black See, which gives greatpromises for exploitation of oil and gas reserves, makes Romania a point ofparticular attention. And given that the country has been experiencing adecline in hydrocarbon reserves, while countries in the region like Moldova,Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria are completely dependent on imported gas from Russia,Romania’s main exporter, there is great need for a plan on diversification ofimports.
Romania’s position, and its own energy capacity can mean a lot for theEnergy Security in the Balkan Region and Europe in general. Romania hassignificant oil reserves, gas reserves, coal deposits and hydroelectric power,while the nuclear reactors, solar and wind power greatly contribute to theoverall energy capacity of the country. But the decline from the 1970s onwardshas made the need for action imperative. More specifically, Romaniaproduces annually 10.9 bcm of natural gas and 4.
1 mt of crude oil while itconsumes 13.5 bcm and 8.8 mt respectively. This fact combined with the trend of10% yearly depletion of hydrocarbon reserves, mean that Romania will need toincrease its import energy dependency from 20% to 50% in ten years by now.
Andthe external energy supply is not diversified, with 98% of gas imports comingfrom Russia. This makes the country vulnerable if there is a disruption of thesupply, something that is not improbable to happen given the tensions betweenRussia and Romania over Moldova. Romania had hoped for the realization of theNabucco West gas pipeline project to achieve this diversification by bringinggas into the country and other dependent countries from Azerbaijan. However, TAPproject was chosen instead that will carry gas to Italy through Greece andAlbania. This left Romania without any important energy plan for the future.What the government tried to do is rely on what it has.
Romania focused oninterconnections and the establishment of energy networks in the region, the developmentof offshore gas fields in the Black Sea, and the exploitation on shale gasresources; the country has one of the biggest reserves in Eastern Europe.However, the government has not adopted a clear energy security strategy forthe future.Taking Romania’s energy realityinto consideration, and given that the TAP pipeline project will not provideenergy to Romania, the United States needs to ensure that its NATO ally willdecrease its dependency from Russian, since the latter has been playing energygames putting energy security for Europe at risk. Guaranteeing that Romaniawill increase its energy capacity and energy diversification is, thus, a major priorityfor the United States. The crisis in theUkraine has played a role in making this clear.
The United States can play animportant role in assisting Romania in its effort to be energeticallyindependent especially through investments for energy projects. Because of theEuropean Union’s Third Energy Package is leading Romania towards phasing outregulated gas and electricity prices and improving retail competition. Competitionin the energy market can help the improvement of the country’s energy capacity.Romania might not be the United States’ number one energy focus becausealthough the country depends on Russian gas, it is still relatively independentif we consider the case with other countries in the region. However, buildingon the country’s energy capacity the United States’ needs to act in Romania inorder to help the country achieve energy independency which might then ensureenergy for other neighbor countries. The will of the United States toact in the country has been expressed through projects and investments,however, but the United States companies are not actually feeling safe toinvest due to the business unfriendly environment. Romania would really be an attractionfor the United States energy investors if it improved its stability, transparency,and predictability. Also, the country does not have a concrete legislationregarding the differentiation between conventional and unconventional gas interms of authorization procedures.
What it does instead is granting the powerof decision making to the National Agency for Mineral Resources (ANRM) forevery particular case. This fact together with Romania’s big bureaucracy is agreat disincentive for American companies to invest in the country’s energysector. To make matters worse the Romanian population does not get properlyinformed about the energy projects and this leads to protests against theprojects making the process very difficult for the investors and the workers.The projects are even used as political tools from the different parties andall this could put any good plan at risk. Romania being a country withgreat energy capacity can not only arrive to a stage of being completelyindependent on electricity energy but also export it to nearby countries thathave only Russia as a supply source.
The United States need to promoteinvestments for maximizing the energy production capacity in the country in thefollowing weak areas:The country’s legislature and administrativesystem is very unattractive for companies to energy project so it is importantthat Romania creates a clear setting for investors in this sector.The Country’s infrastructure isweak, therefore it is important that improvements are done in this sector forenergy companies to work more efficiently.After the US Company Chevrondecision to quit its operations for exploiting shale gas in the country due tothe unsuccessful drillings, no other big projects in this area have takenplace. The population’s uprisings have played a serious role in this. So, thecitizen’s information on any energy projects and their importance should be guaranteedin any case.Romania’s access to the Black Seaand its latest findings on oil and gas reserves gives another opportunity forthis energy source exploitation so the government needs to attract investors tolead towards this.