Protestors in January demanding a halt to shale gas exploration led to the Parliament moratorium. Photo: Tsvetelina Beloutova
Bulgaria's Parliament will form a committee that would amend the wording of a moratorium that effectively banned all oil and gas exploration in the country, but also would investigate whether it was safe to allow shale gas prospecting, Economy Minister Delyan Dobrev said on April 2.
In January, following a series of protest rallies, Parliament passed a moratorium on shale gas exploration that also banned any oil and gas drilling at pressures above 20 atmospheres. This drew immediate criticism from the oil and gas industry because it effectively banned any drilling at depths below 200m.
Some critics went as far as to say that in their rush to score easy popularity points with a public opinion concerned with the use of hydro-fracturing (fracking) technology, the MPs failed to take into consideration the full consequences of the ban.
Among such consequences is the fact that state-owned gas companies Bulgargaz cannot pump any gas into the Chiren gas field, which is used by the country as its main gas storage facility, Dobrev told Bulgarian National Television.
Parliament is expected to constitute the ad hoc committee by the end of the week, he said. The committee's task will be to craft a more "precise" wording of the ban, which would allow companies to resume conventional gas exploration and restocking the reserves in the Chiren gas depository.
"The problem is that there was no debate. The public was worried that we were under pressure having granted Chevron an exploration licence," Dobrev said.
Just days before MPs voted the moratorium, the Cabinet decided to amend an exploration licence given to the US company, specifically banning the use of fracking technologies.
"In the confusion, tension and fears escalated. Now that we have the moratorium in place, we have the time and space to analyse whether [shale gas prospecting] is dangerous or not," Dobrev said.
"If it is dangerous, the moratorium is in place, or we could pass a law [to ban future prospecting]. But if there are ways to minimise the risk for environment and there is no danger, they why not change the legislation to guarantee that all the risk can be controlled - there are institutions that will ensure that best practices are being observed - and explore whether Bulgaria has any shale gas reserves," he said.
According to Economy Ministry estimates, these reserves could range between 300 billion and one trillion cubic metres, enough to satisfy domestic demand (now at about four billion cubic metres a year) for decades.
It was not immediately clear how large the parliamentary committee would be or whether it would be drawn to reflect the proportional distribution of political parties in Parliament, but Dobrev said he thought all parties should be represented.
Dobrev said that the committee would have to conduct a thorough investigation of the issue, hearing all stakeholders, including environmental groups and oil industry executives, as well as research best industry practices.
It would then recommend to either ban shale gas exploration, maintain the moratorium in place or suggest to prepare legislative changes to contain any risks related to shale gas exploration, he said.
Chevron had not been given an extraction licence, only a prospecting one, Dobrev said. According to the company's prospecting timetable, the drilling of exploratory wells was scheduled to start no earlier than 2014, he said, which was enough time to investigate the issue without a moratorium.
The narrow focus of many euro zone countries on fiscal austerity is deepening the jobs crisis and could even lead to another recession in Europe, said the Director of the ILO Institute for International Labour Studies and lead author of the report, Raymond Torres.
Yassen Lyubenov is the new head of marketing at Bulgarian beer brewer Kamenitza. Lyubenov has 12 years of experience in marketing in the fast-moving consumer goods sector and has started his career as assistant brand manager at Kraft Foods Bulgaria. He later became brand manager at Wrigley Bulgaria, with responsibilities for Bulgaria and Macedonia. Prior to joining Kamenitza, he was senior marketing manager at Wrigley Russia, where he was in charge of brand expansion into Ukraine, Belarus, Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Lyubenov has a bachelor's degree in international business administration from the University of Lincoln, UK.
Kamelia Lozanova has been appointed the executive director of the Employment Agency, a position she has held ad interim since September 2011, following the resignation of her predecessor Rossitsa Stelianova. Prior to that, Lozanova was the agency's deputy executive director in charge of international projects and European programmes. She has been with the agency for more than 20 years.
Lozanova has a degree in Slavonic philology from the St Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia.
Gloria Dimitrova has been appointed executive director and member of the managing board at Uniqa Life Insurance Bulgaria. Dimitrova began her career in 1998 at the insurance supervision directorate, but moved to the private sector and worked for professional services and insurance brokerage firm Marsh&McLennan and US insurer AIG, both in Bulgaria and the Middle East. She joined Uniqa as regional director for Sofia in 2010.
Dimitrova has a degree in economics from the University for National and World Economy in Sofia and a master's degree in insurance from the Business Academy in Svishtov.
Bedros Kalfayan, general manager of skin care and cosmetics company Beiersdorf Bulgaria, will oversee the parent's company units in Romania and Moldova starting April 1. Following company restructuring, Beiersdorf's subsidiaries in the three countries were merged and are now one unit, part of Beiersdorf Central and Eastern Europe. Kalfayan joined Beiersdorf in 2007 as sales manager and was promoted to general manager in 2008. Prior to that, he worked for Axxon Bulgaria, Ferrero and Rubella.
Kalfayan has a master's degree in industrial management from the Technical University in Sofia.
Sasha Bezuhanova has been appointed Hewlett-Packard public sector director for emerging markets, where she will oversee HP public sector activities in 63 countries, including Bulgaria. Bezuhanova will also be in charge of HP's relations with the European Union. Bezuhanova has been HP's public sector director for Central and Eastern Europe since 2008; before that she was general manager of HP Bulgaria since 1998.
Bezuhanova has a master's degree in electronics from the Technical University in Sofia and has completed a managment programme at INSEAD.
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