Oil and Gas Explorations at Vranino Halted, Await Court Ruling

Bulgaria's Minister of Environment and Water Ivelina Vasileva. Photo: BGNES

At present no exploration works are being carried out at the Vranino field in northeastern Bulgaria, as the verdict of the Supreme Administrative Court (VAS) is awaited.
This was announced by the Minister of Environment and Water Ivelina Vasileva in a response to a question posed to her in Parliament on Friday, electronic daily Dnevnik reports.

The decision was taken by the caretaker Minister Svetlana Zhekova in August 2014, on assessment of the likely degree of considerable negative impact the oil and gas exploration works are to have.

The decision caused sharp negative reaction and civil protests on fears that the exploration works might lead to pollution of the fertile lands of the region and the subsoil waters.

As a response, the Environment Ministry placed additional conditions on the investor, which exclude the possibility of using fracking and other unconventional methods during the exploration.

Vasileva explained that in case VAS affirms the decision taken by the caretaker Minister and it enters into force, this would not immediately give green light for exploration works to take place.

She assured that the decision of the caretaker Minister followed the established order and normative terms of the Biological Diversity Act.

Vasileva said that the Environment Ministry had made an objective assessment.

In her words, in the case with Vranino only compatibility assessment has been carried out, as at these early stages of the project no activities were foreseen that will require environmental impact assessment.

The field in Vranino did not include territories that fall under the scope of the Protected Areas Act.

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