Canada's Trillion Energy (formerly Park Place Energy) plans to resume work on its license to explore for natural gas near the northeastern Bulgarian city of Dobrich. In a news release the company recently said that the hike in global natural gas prices and the decision of Russia's Gazprom to cut off supplies to Bulgaria have made the project viable again. Before beginning exploration works, the company will have to complete the necessary environmental impact assessment.
Back in 2014 the company received a license to prospect and explore for natural gas in the Vranino 1-11 block near Dobrich, which covers an area of nearly 40 ha. However, exploration works there never began - the project was initially challenged in court and then the investor decided to focus on its exploration projects in the Turkish areas of the Black Sea, where it has several assets.
But now the Bulgarian project is back on the agenda. Trillion Energy explains its decision with the record-high prices of natural gas that had soared even before Gazprom cut off supplies to Bulgaria in late April. The company notes that Bulgaria has historically imported 90% of its natural gas from Russia.
"Recent increases in natural gas prices have improved the project economics and prompted the company to now focus on this project also, as its SASB gas field development is well underway with drilling to commence in July 2022," Trillion Energy points out. The company already has an estimate of the prospective resource on the Vranino 1-11 license, which was prepared by engineering firm Netherland Sewell & Associates in 2014.
"Now more than ever Bulgaria, like most of Europe, urgently needs domestic supply of natural gas for its energy security and survival. The Vranino 1-11 project has significant natural gas potential to supply domestic gas to Bulgaria," said Trillion Energy CEO Art Halleran.
In April the company held meetings with its Bulgarian representatives to discuss the completion of the pre-license environmental reports necessary to commence work on the license. The exploration program envisages five new wells to be drilled.
BackgroundExplorations in the block were first conducted between 1960 and 1990, when more than 220 wells were drilled. In 2010 the ministry of economy and energy opened a new exploration licensing procedure, which was won by Park Place Energy.
In 2014 the then interim minister of environment, Svetlana Zhekova, decided that the company's overall work program did not need an environmental assessment and that assessments would be made for the drills and the separate stages of the project. That decision was later challenged in court by NGOs and repealed. In 2017 the environment minister came up with a new decision, according to which the company would have to prepare an environmental assessment of the overall work program before commencing exploration activities.
Shortly afterwards the company practically shelved its plans for Vranino and focused its efforts on exploration in the Turkish offshore areas. Trillion Energy is 49% owner of the SASB natural gas field, one of the Black Sea's first and largest-scale natural gas development projects. The remaining 51% is held by Turkey's state-owned TPAO. The block itself is adjacent to Tuna-1, which Turkish president Erdogan said two years ago contained 320 billion cu. m of natural gas. Trillion Energy also has a minority interest in the Cendere oil field in Turkey."