EXPLORATION PACE TO QUICKEN IN BLACK SEA

Western companies plan to increase the pace of exploration in the Black Sea off Bulgaria and Ukraine. Texaco Europe, operating from Aberdeen, became the first western company to win a permit to drill off Bulgaria, following 18 months of work involving completion of the country's first environmental impact study. A wildcat will be spudded in June on Block 3, using Diamond Offshore's Ocean Liberator semisubmersible, which sailed from Falmouth, U.K. in March.

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