While the train passes through fields of shiny windturbines in Austria, after descending through the Hungarian mountains down towards the Black Sea, the Romanian plains are full of ‘nodding donkeys’, an ancient means of extracting crude from shallow fields in small quantities. As each ‘donkey’ can only extract so much, fields are littered with hundreds of these wellheads, packed close together.
The Romanian Ploesti oil fields have been in production since 1861. They provided 1/3 of the German war machine’s fuel during World War II, and were repeatedly targeted by US and British bombers flying out of Libya in 1943. With almost no exploration potential, Romania’s production is currently only 115,000 barrels per day — about 10% of BP’s Azeri-Guneshli-Chirag field.
Especially after the gleaming windturbines of Central Europe, the rusting industrial landscape appears unexpected in theEU. But a longer look actually shows that many of the nodding donkeys are not old and in need of decommissioning, but rather blue & yellow new installations – aimed at capturing every last drop of crude. Who makes this choice to continue to drive the fossil fuel donkey as long and as hard as possible?
It is not the Romanian government alone – the rail tankers lined up to collect the oil and export it abroad are labelled OMV– the Austrian national oil company.