Country Listing

Romania Table of Contents


Fossil Fuels

The late 1980s saw the rapid depletion of Romania's extensive reserves of fossil fuels, including oil, natural gas, anthracite, brown coal, bituminous shale, and peat. These hydrocarbons are distributed across more than 63 percent of the country's territory. The major proven oil reserves are concentrated in the southern and eastern Carpathian foothills--particularly Prahova, Arges, Olt, and Bacau judete, with more recent discoveries in the southern Moldavian Plateau, the Danube Plain, and Arad judet (see fig. 1). Despite an ambitious program of offshore exploration, begun in 1976, significant deposits in the Black Sea continental shelf had yet to be discovered as of the late 1980s. Most of the country's natural gas deposits are found in the Transylvanian Plateau. The Southern Carpathians and the Banat hold most of the hard coal reserves, while brown coal is distributed more widely across the country, with major deposits in Bacau and Cluj judete, the southeastern Carpathian foothills, and the Danube Plain.

Total oil reserves in 1984 were estimated at 214 million tons. Western analysts interpreted consistently lower output figures and Romania's intense search for improved oil-recovery technology as evidence that reserves were being depleted rapidly. By the mid1980s , comparatively little oil was being burned for heat and electricity generation. Most of the domestically produced crude was being used as feedstock for refining into valuable gasoline, naphtha, and other derivatives.

As oil's share of the energy balance was declining during the 1970s and 1980s, natural gas and coal assumed increasing prominence. In the mid-1970s, Romania's natural gas reserves--the most extensive in Eastern Europe--were estimated at between 200 and 240 billion cubic meters. This resource was all the more valuable because of its high methane content of 98 to 99.5 percent. Natural gas and gas recovered with crude oil fueled about half of the country's thermoelectric power plants and provided feedstock for the chemical industry. Falling natural gas output figures in the 1980s suggested that this valuable resource also was being depleted. Romanian experts themselves predicted that reserves would be exhausted by 2010. The country had to begin importing natural gas from the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s. Annual imports had reached 2.5 billion cubic meters by 1986 and were expected to rise to about 6 billion cubic meters after 1989.

Although total coal reserves were estimated at 6 billion tons in the mid-1970s, much of this amount was low-quality brown coal containing a high percentage of noncombustible material. Only a fraction of the steel industry's considerable demand for coking coal could be covered by domestic sources.

Data as of July 1989