Outside aid may only slow Romania's output decline
Romania is a southeastern European country with an area of 91,699 sq miles (slightly smaller than Oregon). Population is 23.2 million.
Romania is the most densely explored region for oil outside of the U.S. Its production has declined 39% since peaking in 1976.
Access to Western technology is unlikely to do more than slow the decline.
The Carpathian Mountains divide the northern half of the country from north to south and meet near the country's center with the Transylvanian Alps, which trend east-west.
The fertile Transylvanian plateau lies to the northwest of these ranges and the plains of Moldavia and Walachia to the south and east.
The last 190 miles of the Danube River flow through Romania, and the river enters the Black Sea just south of the Soviet border.
Exploitation of oil deposits in Romania dates back hundreds of years.
Oil was produced from dug wells as early as 1650, when Romania was still part of the Ottoman Empire, and in 1860 the first successful oil wells were drilled in the then Russian controlled Romania.
In 1862, oil was discovered in the Ploiesti district, north of Bucharest. This region, known as Walachia, is in the Carpathian Mountain foothills and was the original center of the Romanian oil industry.
Oil has since been found in the Bacau area (Moldavia district), where oil seeps are fairly common, and in the Oltenia area, southwest of Bucharest. Substantial volumes of gas have been discovered in the north central part of the country, in the inner Transylvanian basin.
During the 10 years that followed the drilling of the first successful wells, Romanian oil production increased to 84,000 bbl/year in 1870. In 1900, with the giant Moreni field having been discovered, 1,629,000 bbl of oil were produced.
Oil production continued to rise significantly, and in 1910 some 9,724,000 bbl were lifted.
There was a slight decline during the years of World War I but a considerable increase again in the 1930s to more than 40 million bbl per year.
In the late 1930s small cities like Ploiesti and Cimpina became busy oil centers, with refineries built by foreign companies.
The pre-World War II production peak was 53 million bbl/year, but there was a decline to only about 24 million bbl/year in 1945 due to the exhaustion of some of the older fields, a lack of exploration, and war-time destruction. However, by 1950 production had increased to 32 million bbl/year.
Then another notable expansion occurred, with oil production increasing to almost 86 million bbl/year in 1960. The production expansion of the 1960s and 1970s was made possible by a number of new field discoveries, especially on the Moesian platform and in the Pannonian basin.
In 1970, production had increased to 102 million bbl/year, and in 1974 some 109 million bbl of oil were produced from a reserve estimated at 1.3 billion bbl, a reserves/production ratio (R/P) of 12:1.
Romanian oil production peaked in 1976 at nearly 111 million bbl, and 1.22 tcf of gas was produced during the year.
In 1977, the most severe earthquake since 1940 hit Eastern Europe. The epicenter was only 50 miles from Romania's major fields. Many wells and oil facilities were damaged, reducing production.
Romania had to import 65 million bbl of oil in 1977, mostly from Arab countries and Iran. In 1979, only about 93 million bbl of oil were produced from a proved reserve estimated at 934 million bbl. With oil production and reserves declining and consumption at 144 million bbl, Romania continued to import crude oil.
Gas reserves were 11 tcf, which supported the production of 1.14 tcf of gas (R/P = 10:1). However, Romania began to import some Soviet gas.
By 1980, crude oil output had declined to 84.5 million bbl, and Romania imported about 116 million bbl, but only a relatively small volume (11 million bbl) came from the Soviet Union. Gas production increased to 1.18 tcf.
Determined to regain self-sufficiency in petroleum, Romania embarked upon an exploration and development program intensifying geological research, developing enhanced recovery methods, and drilling to greater depths both onshore and in the Black Sea (where two Romanian-built jackup rigs were working).
As 1980 was the fourth straight year in which oil production was below quota, the government announced plans to restrict oil and gas utilization to conserve declining reserves.
In 1981 oil production increased to 88 million bbl, but only 93 million bbl were imported, 10.9 million bbl of which were from Iran.
In 1982, the World Bank granted Romania a $101.5 million loan to finance about one fourth the cost of two enhanced oil recovery projects, fireflooding the Videle and Balaria heavy oil fields near Bucharest.
Deep onshore drilling and offshore exploration in the Black Sea continued. Oil production increased marginally (to 88.3 million bbl from a reserve estimated at 959 million bbl, and gas production was 1.168 tcf from a reserve estimated at 13.8 tcf (R/P = 12:1).
In 1983, oil production declined to 87.6 million bbl and reserves to 902 million bbl. Natural gas reserves fell to 13.1 tcf. Gas production also fell, to 1.149 tcf.
Romanian oil production became increasingly more expensive, involving enhanced oil recovery techniques in the older fields and …