Romania has not yet approved a National Energy Strategy (SEN) that defines the objectives of the natural gas sector in the medium and long term and the ways to achieve them, under the conditions of ensuring a sustainable development of the national economy, signals a performance audit regarding the implementation of strategies and policies in the field of investments and natural gas production, carried out between February 2022 and May 2023 by the Court of Accounts.
The institution mentions that the audit was carried out at the Ministry of Energy and the National Agency for Mineral Resources (ANRM).
During the audit mission, which covered the period 2017-2021, the auditors found that the Ministry of Energy did not monitor the fulfillment of the objectives established by the old strategic document (SEN 2007-2020), which expired almost three years ago.
Also, the audit report mentions the fact that the strategic objectives in the gas sector have not been reviewed and updated according to the national and international context, according to Agerpres.
According to a press release from the institution, during the audited period, an energy policy was not developed that would follow the directions provided by the SEN, with deadlines for the implementation of priority investment projects. At the same time, no studies were developed on the basis of which the priorities regarding investments in the natural gas sector were to be established, and no activities were carried out to attract investments.
The domestic production of natural gas decreased by 16.81% in the period 2017-2021, and the imported amount increased more than three times during the audited period. Due to the higher volume of imported gas, at the national level, between 2017-2021, a trade balance deficit of 2.056 billion euros was recorded (import of 2.335 billion euros – export of 279.5 million euros).
Regarding the planned investments in the natural gas sector, in a total amount of 1.527 million euros, the audit noted that the established objectives were not fully achieved. Thus, the auditors noted: the reduction in the volume of geological prospecting works (-51.6% for 3D surveys) and exploratory drilling (-29.2%) at the main producers; failure to achieve the objectives regarding the performance of storage warehouses (increase in storage capacity by only 8.6%, in the conditions in which an increase by 54.31% was foreseen); the abandonment of some planned objectives (the Nabucco Project, the Cogealac compressor station).
The Court of Accounts mentions that since 2010 ANRM has not initiated public calls for tenders for the concession of oil operations, although the existence of free geographical areas for the concession of operations (68 perimeters) was noted. Of the 20 perimeters for which Oil Concession Agreements were concluded between 2011-2015, only in the case of six perimeters exploration operations were still being carried out at the date of the audit, and in the remaining 14 perimeters the agreements had ceased or were in various phases of termination, which reveals the lack of effective levers for analyzing the financial capacity of the operators at the time of granting the concession.
Investments in the construction of natural gas distribution networks were not completed in all cases by the agreed deadlines, as there were situations in which the projects were not fully completed even after several years from the date set for the completion of the investments (in the municipalities of Oradea, Drobeta Turnu Severin, Sighetu Marmații, Salonta and in the communes of Sarasău, Scobiti, Poiana Lacului and Muntenii de Jos).
Investments for the development of storage warehouses were not made at the programmed level, the auditors note. In the context in which the cumulative value of the investment works scheduled to be carried out was 332.625 billion lei, the average degree of their realization was only 57.54%. Under these conditions, the report states, the performance of the warehouses did not improve, as the storage capacity decreased by 3.15%, the injection flow rate remained constant, and the average extraction flow rate decreased by 7.2%.