Romania offers its refineries downstream to Gulf investors

KUWAIT – Romania, hungry for foreign investments to save jobs and upgrade industries, said on Wednesday it was offering Gulf oil powers stakes in its crude refineries and downstream network. Cristian Diaconescu, state secretary of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Reuters he extended the offer, including 100-percent ownership, to the leaders of OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman during his tour of the three Gulf Arab states which ended in Kuwait yesterday. He said he delivered messages from the Romanian leadership stressing the strong diplomatic and political ties «and the need for much more attention to economic issues, mainly in the energy field, tourism and investments.» No decisions were reached on the energy sector offers but Romania plans to send a senior minister to the region later this year after the countries have had time to consider the issue. He will then present specific details to experts in each country on the offers. «I had to present the Romanian energy sector better,» said Diaconescu, arguing that his country offers low refining costs and closeness to major consuming centers in Western Europe. «We have a good law for foreign investment and we have huge refineries which need oil and are running at 40 percent of their capacity,» he said. «The refineries are in good condition. Basically they need oil and some investment but not much» to upgrade them. He said he offered four main Romanian refineries including the largest in the country, the 110,000-barrel-per-day Midia Navordare plant on the Black Sea. Kuwait, which is a major global investor, has a wide refining and downstream network mainly in Western Europe, including 5,000 road-side fuel stations. Dianconescu said the state-run oil sector will have to open up to foreign investors, offering partnerships and also privatization in the field of distributing petroleum products in Romania. «Our legal framework is open to any form of partnership and we allow 100-percent ownership,» he added. The aim of the tour was to boost the small existing trade between Romania and the Gulf states, which import most of their basic needs. The balance is in favor of Saudi Arabia, mainly due to oil exports with 25 percent of its $65 million annual trade Romanian. In Kuwait, Romanian Embassy Charges d’Affairs Costantin Nistor said their $20 million in annual trade is all in favor of Romania which exports newsprint, wood and heavy equipment to the oil sector, including pipes and boilers. Trade with Qatar stands at around $17 million.