Group sales, excluding excise duties on oil products, in the third quarter, totaled 6.983 billion lei (about 1.54 billion euros), an increase of 17 percent from the same period last year. OMV Petrom operational profit calculated before deducting interest and taxes (EBIT) in the third quarter of 2012 was 1.286 billion lei, down 4 percent from EBIT in the similar period last year. 'We focused investments in E & P segment, to stabilize the production of oil, and we continued our exploration efforts in the Black Sea deep perimeter, getting ready for our new 3D seismic surveys. Consistent with our strategic directions, we started commercial operation of the power plant at Brazi, which, since September, is stocked exclusively from internal gas production. We will also pursue new opportunities for growth in regions bordering the Black Sea in partnership with ExxonMobil.
Next, we plan to implement our investment program in the years to come, in amount of 0.8 to 1.2 billion euros annually, based on assumptions of some robust market fundamentals and a fiscal and regulatory environment favorable to investments ', said CEO of OMV Petrom SA, Mariana Gheorghe. Austrian OMV Group is the majority shareholder of Petrom, with a 51.01 percent participation. The Ministry of Economy holds 20.64 percent of Petrom stock, the Property Fund owns 20.11 percent, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development 2.03 percent and 6.21 percent is traded freely on Bucharest Stock Exchange. Petrom is the largest Romanian oil and gas company, with activities in the business segments of Exploration and Production, Refining and Petrochemicals, Marketing, Natural Gas and Energy.