France’s Total finds oil in Bulgarian offshore block in Black Sea

By bne IntelliNews October 28, 2016

Total has discovered oil in a Bulgarian Black Sea offshore block, the French energy company said in its third-quarter results report. Total’s report was released on October 28, and one of the highlights since the beginning of the third quarter reads, “oil discovery in the Black Sea (Bulgaria) opening a new play”. The corporation has not provided additional comments yet.

Bulgarian hopes of a major offshore discovery in its sector of the Black Sea rose with the discovery of the Domino gas field in neighbouring Romania’s offshore sector. A consortium comprising Total, Austria’s OMV and Spain's Repsol had already announced plans to drill a deepwater well in the Bulgarian sector in early 2016. 

In April, the drillship Noble Globetrotter II arrived at the Bulgarian port of Burgas shortly before launching oil and gas exploration at Bulgaria’s Black Sea offshore block 1-21 Han Asparuh. She was leased by the consortium of Total, OMV and Repsol. The French company is the operator of the block with a 40% stake, and each of its partners holds 30% interest, Offshore Energy Today reported.

The 1-21 Han Asparuh block covers an area of 14,220 square kilometres with water depths of up to 2,200 metres. Bulgaria permitted exploration in mid-2012, and the consortium completed 3D seismic surveys in January 2014. The surveys helped determine the drilling locations for the two planned exploration wells, but drilling was delayed because of the steep decline in oil prices. Noble Globetrotter II was scheduled to work for four to five months on the first well.

In April, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said that the government aims to diversify the sources and routes of energy resources. She commented that the consortium’s investment in exploration will be $260mn.

Xavier Faugeras, general manager of Total E&P Bulgaria, warned on April 19 that there was a high risk of not finding oil and gas. In case of finding hydrocarbons, the discovery will be followed by analyses of quality and quantity, which may take as long as 10 years. Hence, there is a lot of time before potential extraction begins, the executive said.

In February, the Bulgarian energy ministry and Shell International Exploration and Production signed an agreement for deep-water prospecting and exploration for oil and natural gas off the Black Sea coast. 


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