French oil and gas company Total said in its third-quarter earnings report on October 28 that it found oil on Bulgaria’s Black Sea shelf, but gave no further details beyond a single mention that it was “opening a new play”.
The Total-led consortium, which also includes Austria’s OMV and Spain’s Repsol, was granted the Khan Asparoukh exploration licence in July 2012. The drastic drop in oil prices since 2014, which has prompted oil majors to cut back on capital expenditures, including exploration activities, prompted Total to delay drilling on the Bulgarian Black Sea shelf until April 2016.
The arrival of Noble Globetrotter II, the ship that was to drill two exploration wells over summer, prompted a tour from Bulgarian officials, including by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova, with French ambassador in Sofia, Xavier Lapeyre De Cabanes, also in attendance.
Bulgaria hopes to find extensive offshore reserves of oil, gas and condensate, possibly on par with those on the nearby Romanian sea-shelf, where reserves are estimated to range between 40 billion cubic metres of gas and 80 billion cubic metres. OMV and ExxonMobil hold the exploration licence in Romania.