The postponement, Mariana Gheorghe added, is due to the poor market conditions triggered by the current financial crisis.

“The year 2009 will be a great challenge. We expect ongoing pressures exerted on the price of crude oil. As for the currency exchange rates, we expect the leu to remain on a downtrend in the coming period”, said the chief financial officer of Petrom.

The modernization plans for Petrobrazi refinery included an increase of the vacuum and atmospheric distillation capacity from 4.5 mln tons/year to 6 mln tons/year, as well as other capacity increases and retooling works for different units, expansion of the coke unit, the construction of Romania’s first ever hydrocracker unit along with a new hydrogen plant.

The plan was also including a modernization of the utility systems for ensuring high efficiency of utility production and consumption, as well as the reorganization of the distribution network, environmental protection investments for minimizing the Sox and NOx emissions, tank farm and logistics investments for resizing and modernizing the existing tank farms and for the construction of new ones to balance product flexibility as part of the optimization of the product delivery system.

Petrom manages two refineries in Romania, with a total processing capacity of 8 million tons/year. Petrobrazi and Arpechim refineries are linked through a complex pipeline infrastructure, according to the company.

Petrom runs activities in the business segments of Exploration and Production, Refining, Marketing Natural Gas and Energy and handles proved oil and gas reserves estimated at 0.9 bln boe with a maximum refining capacity of 8 million metric tons and about 550 filling stations in Romania. The company operates an international network of 257 filling stations in Moldova, Bulgaria and Serbia.