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SOFIA (Bulgaria), March 13 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's government said on Wednesday that it accepted a request by France's Total, Austria’s OMV and Spain’s Repsol to extend by 109 days the permit held by the three companies for exploring for oil and natural gas in the 1-21 Han Asparuh offshore block in the Black Sea.
The extension is a result of a force majeure event, the government said in a statement, without giving further details about the event.
The government authorised energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova to sign an annex to the contract with the three companies within one month.
Their permit is due to expire in January 2020.
Total has a 40% interest in the project, while OMV and Repsol own stakes of 30% each.
The 1-21 Han Asparuh block is located deep offshore in the Bulgarian sector in the western part of the Black Sea and covers an area of 14,220 sq km with water depths up to 2,200 m.
In November 2018, the companies started drilling of the third deepwater exploration well, Melnik-1.
Works will be carried out by Noble Corporation's Noble Globetrotter II ship, which was also used for the first two exploration wells, Polshkov-1 and Rubin-1.
In October 2016, Total said it had discovered oil in the block.
The companies won a permit for prospecting and exploration of oil and gas in the 1-21 Han Asparuh block in 2012. Under the terms of the contract, they committed to invest over 1.0 billion euro in the gas exploration process, while Bulgaria would receive 40 million euro ($45.2 million) in the form of a bonus payments from the deal, the Bulgarian economy ministry said at the time.
($= 0.8851 euro)