British firm says it starts gas production in Bulgaria

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British gas and oil development company Melrose Resources has started production at two offshore natural gas fields in Bulgaria, it said on Thursday.

"We are delighted to achieve first production from our two new Bulgarian gas fields," Melrose chief executive David Thomas said.

According to the statement, the Kavarna and Kaliakra fields in the Black Sea, to Bulgaria's northeast, contain combined reserves of some 74 billion cubic feet (2.0 billion cubic metres) of gas.

"The combined field production plateau rate is expected at approximately 45 million cubic feet per day," Melrose said.

The company added it hoped to soon link another gas field, East Kavarna, which has an estimated 12 billion cubic feet of gas, to its field production platform.

After going online, the three fields will be able provide about 86 billion cubic feet of gas and cover between 15 and 20 percent of Bulgaria's annual gas consumption over the next six years, Melrose recently said.

Bulgaria's energy ministry welcomed Thursday's announcement, saying it would help offer cheaper gas prices to consumers and lower Bulgaria's current total dependence on Russian natural gas deliveries.

© 2010 AFP

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