A consortium of energy companies has signed a deal to start exploring for gas and oil off Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.
French oil major Total, Austria’s OMV and Spain’s Repsol plan to spend hundreds of millions of euros to drill two wells near to a site in Romanian waters where a successful gas discovery was made.
The deal boosts Bulgaria’s hopes to end its almost complete dependence on Russian gas imports.
“Today we are paving the way to Bulgaria’s energy independence,” Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev said after the signing.
Bulgaria meets over 90 percent of its gas needs with supplies from Russia’s Gazprom and is seeking ways to diversify its gas routes and sources to cuts costs and boost its energy security.
Dobrev has said that gas production could start in six years, provided that the exploration points to substantial gas reserves.
“Out hopes are that the gas deposits will at least match the deposits discovered in the Romanian field. And our field is three times bigger,” Dobrev said.
The drilling of a deep water well is estimated to cost around 300 million euros. Fabrice Chevalier, a project director at Total, said: “In the future, if there is a development, there will be certainly (an investment of) billions of dollars, if there are hydrocarbons.”