ECONOMY

Romania might float Romgaz stake

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania may float a stake in state-owned gas producer Romgaz this year and could finalize talks with partners for the third and fourth nuclear reactors in the first half of 2008, a government official said yesterday. Romgaz is the country’s main gas producer and together with Petrom, majority-owned by Austria’s OMV, it accounts for all of the country’s natural gas production. Alexandru Sandulescu, general director in the Economy and Finance Ministry in charge of energy strategy, told Reuters in an interview a second nuclear plant, in addition to Romania’s plant in Cernavoda, could also be finalized by around 2020. «It is possible to finalize talks with partners to build the third and fourth nuclear reactors in the first half of this year… (and) it is very possible to float a stake in Romgaz in 2008,» Sandulescu said, without elaborating. «A second nuclear plant would be built somewhere around 2020, we are working on this project, but we have not decided on location, capacity or on the technology we will use.» Romania is negotiating with Belgium’s Electrabel, Italy’s Enel, Spain’s Iberdrola, Czech CEZ, a Romanian unit of ArcelorMittal and Germany’s RWE to create a partnership with Nuclearelectrica, the operator of the sole nuclear power plant. The reactors could go on stream by 2015 and the investment is estimated at some 2.2 billion euros. Broader plans The new European Union member hopes to be an important energy exporter in the region by 2020, as its strategy envisages doubling the country’s power output to around 100 TWh, which would be more than estimated domestic consumption. Romania’s energy strategy also includes setting up an integrated energy holding company that would pull together state-owned power distributors and producers, likened by Prime Minister Tariceanu to CEZ. Sandulescu did not want to comment on the development of the project, but said it would be in line with the European Union’s regulations regarding the separation of sectors, as the power produced will be sold on Romania’s energy bourse. He also said Romania was on track with plans to cover 33 percent of domestic consumption by producing renewable energy by 2010, although the initial strategy might be slightly changed by potential environment restrictions. «We see strong interest from investors, which makes us believe we will fulfill our plans, which could be lowered by environment restrictions, but not significantly,» he said.