Friday, 23 March 2012
Romania and Bulgaria in Black Sea territorial dispute
Amid a surge of interest in Black Sea oil and gas resources, Romania has highlighted a border dispute on its Black Sea boundary with Bulgaria.
Romania's Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu said on 21 Marchthat “a disputed territory exists between Bulgaria and Romania that is of seventeen kilometers in the Black sea waters”. The two neighbours have been seeking to delimit their maritime borders for two decades: Diaconescu said that the lack of a formal agreement has not prevented the development of friendly relations between them, so the disputed area should be settled as soon as possible to prevent it becoming a problem.
The dispute has resurfaced due to the recent discovery of significant gas resources by ExxonMobil and Petrom (in which OMV holds a 51% stake) off the Romanian coast. In February the two partners announced that an exploration well at the Neptun block had struck an extremely attractive prospect, which contains up to 100 billion cubic metres of natural gas, and which may be surrounded by other attractive areas.
Bucharest has sought to reassure its neighbour, as well as the EU and international companies, that the dispute is not a major issue and is not yet at the stage of arbitration. Diaconescu said that the two sides would hold high-level talks and try to settle the matter amicably, although reports have also said that Romania will consider taking the dispute to the International Court of Justice if necessary.
Romania is keen to settle the issue in order to remove any uncertainty over its ownership of the exploration block in question. Substantial gas supplies would be a major boost for its economy and its political position within the EU.
Sources: Oil and Gas Eurasia, BusinessWeek, Novinite