EconMin Strikes Bulgarian Oil Concessionaire, Predecessor Might Face ChargesEnergy | October 19, 2012, Friday // 13:50| views
In the last two years, Bulgaria launched several tenders for deep-water oil and gas drilling rights in the Black Sea. File photo
The concession license of the Bulgarian company Lederbel for oil and gas exploration in the Black Sea continental shelf and exclusive economic zone will be revoked, declared Economy Minister, Delyan Dobrev.
At the end of January 2011, the Ministry of Economy and Energy selected Bulgarian company Lederbel BG to explore the Block Silistar in the Black Sea, but the contract remains unsealed because the other bidder – Overgaz is appealing the selection before the Court. The selection was made under Dobrev's predecessor, Traicho Traikov.
Speaking for TV7 Friday, Dobrev said Traikov and Lederbel might have to face prosecution.
Lederbel is owned by Krasimir Georgiev, who is rumored to have close ties with another former Economy and Energy Minister, Socialist, Rumen Ovcharov.
Last week, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, ordered his Deputy, Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov to assign the Agency for State Financial Inspection (ADFI) with a week-long deadline the task of probing the concession procedure.
"This case is indeed alarming because under the law, concessions for exploration are granted to companies with experience and funds. Lederbel has neither. They have a capital of just BGN 5 000 and a bank account with BGN 1 000 in it, all while committing to explore deposits for the cost of EUR 300 M. They have no experience in exploration whatsoever; have no turnover in the last 3 years, and are listed as a consulting company," Dobrev said Friday.
The Minister made a comparison with the consortium uniting French Total, Austrian OMV and Spanish Repsol, which received in July permission to drill for oil and gas at Block 1-21 Khan Asparuh in the Black Sea, and has already paid EUR 40 M as a bonus to the State.
"In addition, they committed to a work program for over BGN 1 B that would most likely turn to be EUR 1 B. They have the capacity, the experience, international recognition," he said, stressing he would be seeking ways to launch a new procedure for Silistar with the goal to attract another company of such scale to start real exploration without threatening national security.
Dobrev announced ADFI will conclude the probe ASAP and its report will published on the site of the Ministry. He stressed if it includes evidence sufficient to refer the case to the Prosecutor's Office, he wouldn't hesitate even for a second.
When asked if Traikov is responsible for the allegedly flawed procedure, the Minister commented:
"I would not want to blame anyone; ADFI will have the say, nevertheless this company should have been removed from the bidders' list. As it is now, the only thing Lederbel could do is sell its exploration rights, which could become an environmental threat."
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