Romania is advised to rejuvenate its petrochemical industry as its oil processing capacity has decreased by more than half since 1990, according to the Energy Industry Review, a monthly magazine that focuses on Romania's energy sector.
The Eastern European country reduced its annual oil processing capacity to 13.7 million tons in 2017 compared to 35 million tons in 1990, the magazine revealed.
In 1990, an industrial dismantling disaster led to the demolition of 102 large units out of the existing 132, according to the magazine.
Two major Romanian oil refineries were shut down. Austrian company OMV Petrom closed down one of Romania's largest refineries, the Arpechim Pitesti, in 2011. Earlier in 2008, Austria's Petrochemical Holding closed down another large refinery, the RAFO Onesti. Three other smaller refineries: Astra-Ploiesti, Steaua Romana-Campina and Darmanesti have also closed down.
- Petrochemical imports overburden foreign trade
Petrochemical imports form the biggest trade deficit in the formerly socialist country's foreign trade, according to the Energy Industry Review.
Petrochemical imports correspond to 86 percent of Romania's trade deficit due to massive imports from riparian Mediterranean Sea countries that include basic chemicals like phenol, acetone, styrene, acrylonitrile, sodium cyanide, polyolefins, polyvinylchloride, polystyrene, styrene copolymers, synthetic rubber, latex, polyurethane foams, etc.
Prior to 1990, all these chemicals were produced in Romania while the country exported a substantial share, the review showed.
- Call for an urgent re-industrialization
According to the review, the issue of Romania’s re-industrialization is urgent, not only for long-term economic development, but also for the very existence of the state.
In 2007, 12,000 employees worked in the chemical industry but in 2016, this number reduced to 3,800.
Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea, the largest Romanian chemical producer, employed 4,800 in 2007, and in 2016 following insolvency, this number dwindled down to only 1,900 employees.
Therefore, the review maintains that a policy dedicated to reindustrialization is absolutely necessary for Romania, especially as the country has been a member of the EU since 2007.
- Romania produces almost all of its natural gas needs
In terms of natural gas, the country has reserves in the region of 100 billion cubic meters (bcm) with high methane content, and a production of 11 bcm per year.
Despite this production, Romania's domestic consumption is about 13 bcm per year. Therefore, imports of 2 bcm/year are required to cover current domestic demand.
Romania ranks 11th in the global hierarchy of regional oil producers with proven reserves of 200 million tons of oil, without taking into consideration the oil and gas potential of the Romanian Black Sea plateau area, currently under exploration.
By Muhsin Baris Tiryakioglu