Global Insider: Without Fracking, Bulgaria is Stuck on Russian Gas

In January, Bulgaria banned hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, after nationwide protests against the natural gas extraction method. In an email interview, Tomasz Daborowski, an analyst in the Central European department at the Center for Eastern Studies in Warsaw, discussed Bulgaria’s energy security.

WPR: What is the current size and scope of Bulgaria's energy sector, and what are its estimated reserves?

Tomasz Daborowski: The energy sector in Bulgaria is relatively small in global terms but quite considerable compared to other Bulgarian industries and to other energy sectors in Southeastern Europe. The power sector is the most important: The country has one nuclear power plant, in Kozloduj, and several huge thermal power and hydropower plants. As a result, Bulgaria, along with Romania, is a net exporter of electricity in the Balkan region. Furthermore, Bulgaria has the largest refinery in the Balkans. Controlled by Russia’s Lukoil, the refinery in Burgas has annual capacity of 9.5 million tons of oil. The gas market, in contrast, is slim, with national annual consumption at only 3 billion cubic meters. Bulgaria, however, plays an important role as a transit country for Russian gas to Turkey and Greece, with a total of 17 billion cubic meters passing through. Bulgaria’s energy resources consist mainly of fossil fuels and hydropower. Hard coal and lignite reserves are considerable -- 3 billion tons -- but there are almost no oil or conventional gas deposits. The country may possess large unconventional gas reserves, but the exact size cannot be confirmed since Bulgaria introduced a total ban on exploration and production of shale gas in January.

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