Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, has won a permit to explore for shale gas in the northeastern part of Bulgaria, a five-year project worth $72 million that will see Chevron invest $5.8 million on meeting environmental standards in the area. Last month, Chevron won a tender to explore Bulgarian shale deposits.
Like Poland, Ukraine and other Eastern European nations, Bulgaria is looking to tap into domestic energy sources in an effort to reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas. Bulgaria currently gets nearly all of its natural gas supplies from Russia, the world's top oil producer.
Initial estimates by the bidders showed potential reserves of between 300 billion and 1 trillion cubic meters of shale gas in the area Chevron is set to explore, according to the Associated Press.
The project is not free of risk for Chevron (CVX). Environmental groups throughout Europe have opposed fracking, the process used to free gas from shale rocks and Bulgarian socialists have called for a moratorium on shale gas drilling until reliable studies prove the work will not harm the environment or trigger earthquakes, Reuters reported.