Shell Exploration and Production has been selected by Bulgaria for deepwater oil and gas exploration off its Black Sea Silistar block 1-14.

Shell plans to sign a contract by the end of next month.

Bulgaria Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said that Shell will invest €18.6m in exploration, in addition to paying a bonus of €4.9m to the state upon signing the contract.

As part of the proposed working programme, Shell will carry out 2D and 3D seismic surveys, as well as measures for protection of environmental and human health.

"Shell will invest €18.6m in exploration."

Recently, Shell conducted a deepwater exploration drilling in a Turkish block in the Western Black Sea.

According to Petkova, the exploration of Silistar block is part of the increase in yield that represents one of the primary conditions for ensuring energy security, as well as independence.

In December 2014, Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers adopted a decision on the launch of competitions for natural gas and oil exploration and prospecting in Bulgaria’s Silistar Block 1-14 and Teres Block 1-22.

Silistar block 1-14 has an area of 6,893km², while the Teres block 1-22 has an area of 4,032km².

Petkova said that the tenders are another step towards ensuring the diversification of sources of natural gas to Bulgarian consumers.

In addition, exploration and prospecting of own sources are expected to reduce Bulgaria’s dependence on imported energy, especially from Russia.

Bulgaria has already offered exploration rights for Han Asparuh deep water block in Black Sea coast and the companies will start exploration in the second half of this year.