Two US companies have expressed interest in drilling for shale gas in Bulgaria, the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism announced.
The Ministry has received a total of seven requests for exploration permits by two companies – Chervon Bulgaria Holding BV stationed in the Netherlands, and the Texas-based Integrity Tower Inc.
Chevron has expressed interest in exploring two sites, while Integrity Tower has asked for five permits for exploration in Northeast Bulgaria.
The possibility of Chevron Corporation searching for shale gas in Bulgaria was first formally discussed in April 2010 during the visit of the Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Traicho Traikov to Washington, DC.
On Monday, it was discussed further between Traikov and senior Chevron executives in Sofia in the presence of US Ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick.
The following day Warlick formally presented Chevron’s interest in drilling for shale gas in Bulgaria to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
Bulgaria’s Ministry of Economy has announced that it has started a procedure to issue the respective permits to the American companies in cooperation with the ministries of environment, interior, and defense. The procedure is supposed to be completed within a month.
Simultaneously, the Bulgarian Cabinet is drafting decisions for starting tenders for exploration. The interest companies can receive their exploration permits within three months of the date when they submitted their application.
The Economy Ministry points out that the research and the exploration of shale gas deposits is one of its priorities as the rising oil and natural gas prices are increasing the interest in this kind of investments, which also provides new opportunities for diversifying Bulgaria’s energy sources.
An US-registered company, Direct Petroleum Bulgaria, was the first to indicate that there might be substantial shale gas deposits in the country back in 2006.
According to the Ministry, the industrial extraction of shale gas in Bulgaria can start within 5-10 years depending on the specifics of the deposits, the technology for extraction and the respective transport and processing infrastructure.
There has been no specific exploration of shale gas deposits in Bulgaria so far, and all claims that there might be substantial deposits are based on indirect data. Rock formations in the north-center and northeastern part of the country are believed to be the most likely places to harbor shale gas deposits.