Bulgaria's Energy Diversification Projects Unaffected by Political Situation – Outgoing Deputy Minister

Energy | March 6, 2013, Wednesday // 15:06|  views

Evgenia Haritonova, outgoing Deputy Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, photo by BGNES

As regards energy independence, Bulgaria has focused efforts on domestic gas production, gas grid interconnections with neighboring countries, and gas supply diversification, according to Evgenia Haritonova, outgoing Deputy Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism.

Speaking Wednesday during the Black Sea Oil and Gas Forum, Haritonova made clear that the consortium uniting Austrian OMV, French Total, and Spanish Repsol had already started gas exploration activities in the Khan Asparuh block in Bulgaria's Black Sea waters.

"This was a very transparent tender. The tender procedures are now to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union," she stated, as cited by the Focus news agency.

Haritonova, as cited by money.bg, also made clear that the procedures for the Silistar, Sveta Marina, and Teres blocks were underway.

Bulgaria's outgoing Deputy Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism informed that the gas grid interconnection with Romania was to be completed by May 2013, the designing of the gas link with Serbia was to start within a month, and the construction of the pipe connecting the Bulgarian and Greek gas grids was to start by mid-2013.

Haritonova argued that the political situation in the country was hardly likely to affect the implementation of the Nabucco gas pipeline project.

Bulgaria's centre-right GERB government resigned on February 20 after days of mass street protests over high electricity and heating bills and low incomes.

Asked to comment on the issue of shale gas, she said that "there is no talk about shale gas in Bulgaria these days."

She emphasized that the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism followed the decisions issued by Parliament, adding that the production of shale gas could only start if the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing was revoked at some point.

Asked whether she was aware that a company had submitted investment plans for 120 shale gas production wells near Elhovo, she declared that the wells were being drilled for gas exploration, not production.

Petar Popchev, national coordinator of the Nabucco project, argued that US energy giant Chevron had no intentions of extracting gas through hydraulic fracturing in Bulgaria but would only deploy conventional gas drilling.

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Tags: Evgenia Haritonova, Deputy Economy Minister, nabucco project, Nabucco Gas Pipeline, energy diversification, shale gas, GERB government, resignation, hydraulic fracturing, moratorium, gas exploration


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