France’s Total and Austria’s OMV anticipate significant gas deposits in Black Sea block near Bulgaria

France’s Total and Austria’s OMV are conducting exploration activities in the Black Sea’s “Block 1-21 Khan Asparuh” to discover natural gas deposits. They anticipate finding approximately 13 billion cubic meters of gas in the block’s eastern region, near Varna. Representatives from both companies revealed this during a parliamentary energy committee session. Delyan Dobrev (GERB), the committee chairman, expressed his intention to propose the state’s participation in the consortium as a shareholder, with a potential share of up to 35%. He plans to submit a draft decision in the coming week.

Dobrev highlighted that Bulgaria’s current gas consumption is around 2.5 billion cubic meters, meaning that extracting gas from the Bulgarian Black Sea would surpass the country’s consumption by five times, transforming Bulgaria into a significant gas exporter to Europe. He projected potential annual revenues of approximately 2.7 billion BGN and a 5% boost in GDP. Total Energy and OMV initially planned to begin drilling in early 2024 but deemed the venture as risky and costly, thus seeking additional investors, including Bulgarian partners.

TotalEnergies EP Bulgaria is particularly optimistic about discovering natural gas in the eastern part of the Khan Asparuh block, situated within Bulgaria’s exclusive economic zone in the Black Sea. Notably, the Turkish well “Chaijuma-1” lies just 5 km away from Bulgarian waters and revealed reserves of 58 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The exploration of the Bulgarian block initially involved three companies: Total Energy, OMV, and Repsol. However, Repsol withdrew from the project in 2020 due to mixed results, leaving TotalEnergies EP Bulgaria and OMV Offshore Bulgaria as the remaining participants, holding 57.14% and 42.86% shares, respectively.

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