Bulgaria grants Chevron shale gas exploration permit

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, June 16 -- Bulgaria granted Chevron Corp. a 5-year permit to explore for shale gas at what it called “a potentially huge field” in northeastern Bulgaria.

Bulgaria’s Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov said Chevron will prepare a 5-year work program valued at €50 million after last month winning a tender for rights to a 4,400-sq-km block near the city of Novi Pazar.

Traikov said Chevron will pay €30 million to the state to begin exploring for shale gas in a field for which initial estimates showed the potential for 0.3-1 trillion cu m of shale gas.

Traikov has said shale gas and hydraulic fracturing have the potential to reduce harmful emissions, boost energy security, and cut Bulgaria's almost full reliance on gas imported from Russia.

The government said Chevron would invest €4 million over 5 years on environment protection after protests by opposition politicians.

Socialists last week called for a moratorium on shale gas exploration in Bulgaria until reliable studies prove the search will not harm the environment or trigger earthquakes.

Bulgaria is preparing two more tenders for shale gas exploration in the same region with offers to be submitted by the end of June.

Meanwhile, the Balkan country also hopes to link its gas transportation network with that of neighboring Greece in 2014, aiming to receive gas from Azerbaijan via an interconnector.

The award in Bulgaria follows an announcement by Chevron last month that it has agreed to acquire oil and gas assets, primarily 228,000 net leasehold acres, in the Marcellus shale from Chief Oil & Gas LLC and Tug Hill Inc. Terms of the transaction, expected to close by the end of June, weren’t disclosed.

Chevron Vice-Chairman George Kirkland said his firm has acquired nearly 5 million net acres of shale gas assets in the US, Canada, Poland, and Romania the past year.

The new US acreage, which is principally located in southern Pennsylvania, will give Chevron an estimated 5 tcf of additional gas resources in its Marcellus shale operations.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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