Romania could become a gas hub by 2020, when the gas pipeline that will connect the grids of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria (Brua) is scheduled to be completed. The announcement was made by Romanian Energy Minister Toma Petcu in a national radio broadcast. According to government plans, work on the pipeline will begin in the fourth quarter of 2017 and should be compulsorily completed in December 2019. "As of 2020, ExxonMobil and OMV Petrom will begin extraction of natural gas from the Black Sea," the minister added, stressing that the Brua pipeline is "very important, and that the companies engaged in gas extraction in the Black Sea will be fully connected". The Black Sea has in fact been at the centre of international attention for some years now, a veritable treasure trove of valuable energy resources, tempting to everyone to some degree, from the US to Russia. Discovered in 2012 by technicians and engineers of the OMV Petrom HQ, Bucharest, this huge offshore natural gas field immediately showed its potential. Today, the construction project to transport this great wealth from the Black Sea to Austria, to Brua, will lead to the redrawing of the European energy map. Within the context of the completion of these projects - the minister for energy explained, "greater stability will be guaranteed and Romania could become a hub and a major player in the gas market". Work on the project, explained Bucharest's Energy Minister, will involve 11 Romanian provinces; the new pipeline will be 550 km long and will have a total capacity of 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year towards Bulgaria and 4.4 billion cubic meters towards Hungary. The total cost of the pipeline should exceed 500 million euros. A third of the funds will be granted by the EU Commission: The energy ministers of 12 EU countries recently signed a general cooperation agreement to build the Romanian part of the pipeline, which will be 528 km long.