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Adriatic and Balkans news roundup

The many nations of the Balkans and Adriatic Sea have seen impressive developments in their oil and gas industries after a period of uncertainty. The cancellation of Russia's South Stream project caused many issues in the region, as several nations were relying on its completion and were hit hard economically when it was shut down.

However, they have since adapted, and the latest news has been positive. Nations like Bulgaria, which has historically been very dependent on Russian gas imports, have settled on projects that will diversify their gas supplies. Bulgaria has announced new gas links with Romania and Greece, as well as new exploration of its territory in the Black Sea.

Elsewhere, Greece has made a deal with Russia that will guarantee it a gas supply in the future, once Turkish Stream has been completed. In addition to rising oil production in Albania, the future seems very positive for oil and gas in the Balkans.


Bankers Petroleum stock increases after impressive Albanian oil yields

Bankers Petroleum Ltd, a Canadian oil company operating in Albania, has seen the value of its shares rise in the past few weeks. The reason for this is a significant increase in yields from its Albanian oil interests; specifically the heavy oilfield of Patos-Marinza, which is the largest onshore oilfield in Europe.

Recent figures have revealed that in the last decade, Bankers Petroleum has managed to increase production at the oilfield from 400 barrels per day in 2004 to over 20,000 barrels per day in 2014. It has achieved this impressive feat through a combination of using horizontal drilling, and polymer and water injection schemes to unlock new reserves.

Through horizontal drilling, the firm has been able to discover an additional 5.4 billion barrels of oil, which are in the process of being unlocked. Another 882 horizontal wells are scheduled to be drilled in the near future. Results from 23 sites of water and polymer flooding have also been positive.


Bulgaria opens tenders for offshore oil and gas blocks

Two offshore blocks might soon be new sources of oil and gas, as Bulgaria's Energy Ministry has announced it has opened tenders for deepwater exploration rights in the area. Block 1-14 Silistar and Block 1-22 Teres are both located on the continental shelf in the Black Sea near Bulgaria. The former occupies an area of 7,000 sq km, and the latter an area of 4,000 sq km.

A statement from the Energy Ministry read: "The opening of the tenders is a demonstration of the government's engagement to lower Bulgaria's dependence from imports and its aim to develop its own energy resources." Several companies are already exploring Bulgaria's waters with this aim in mind, including French Total, OMV and Repsol.

The blocks are located close to a block in Romanian waters that is thought to contain 84 billion cubic m of natural gas, which has given Bulgaria hope that its blocks will also contain reserves of oil or gas.

Parties interested in tendering for the offshore blocks must do so by September 20th. The successful parties will gain five-year permits to conduct exploratory drilling in the region.


Belarus planning to increase involvement with Serbia

Serbia looks likely to see increased involvement from Belarus according to the latest reports from Belneftekhim, the Belarusian state petrochemicals firm. Serbia currently imports a lot of its gas from the nation, as well as a number of oil-based products such as polyester and food polymers.

Speaking to Oil & Gas Eurasia, Belneftekhim noted that there was an increased demand among Serbian consumers for natural gas, which Belarus exports in the form of liquified natural gas (LNG). The nation has also shown an interest in importing crude oil fractions from Belarus.

Representatives of Belneftekhim - led by the company's deputy chairman Vitaly Pavlov - have been negotiating with Serbia in meetings held at the Belarusian Embassy in order to secure the best deal for these imports.


Greece, Romania and Bulgaria to construct $236m gas corridor

In a bid to diversify its gas supplies, Bulgaria has announced that it has signed an agreement with its neighbours Greece and Romania to connect itself up to their gas networks. It is thought that this 'vertical gas corridor' will cost $236.2 million to construct, and will allow Bulgaria to import between three and five billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas from the nations.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Bulgaria’s deputy energy minister Zhecho Stankov said: "We are finally getting a new source of gas because until now we were totally reliant on one source: Russia." Bulgaria currently imports roughly 2.85 bcm of gas from Russia, and 0.15 bcm from other sources.

The gas corridor, which is planned for completion in 2018, will allow Bulgaria to access gas from Greece's LNG terminals, as well as from Azerbaijan. The amount it will have access to will account for the nation's future growth, as well as significantly reducing its reliance on imports from Russia.


Gazprom guarantees Greece a gas supply

The latest negotiations regarding the Turkish Stream pipeline, which will transport Russian natural gas to Europe via Turkey, have centred on Greece. Russia's state gas company Gazprom has agreed to transit a guaranteed 47 bcm of gas to Greece through a pipeline they will build up to the nation's border.

Aleksey Miller, Gazprom's CEO, has confirmed this deal. He also said that it would be possible for Greece to raise commercial loans against the guaranteed gas deliveries. While this is not the short-term economic fix Greece is thought to have been hoping for, it will benefit the nation in the long term and create much-needed jobs.
The pipeline to Greece, which would be an extension of Turkish Stream, could be built by a consortium of Russian and European companies according to Mr Miller. He also said that the pipeline would be developed according to European legislation, which is an important aspect of pipelines to Europe.

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