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French Total wins gas drilling tender
French company Total wins tender for natural gas drilling in Bulgaria's Black Sea waters
By The Associated Press

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) Bulgaria's government says it has chosen French oil company Total to explore a gas field off the country's Black Sea coast.

Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev said Thursday that Total won the tender to carry out exploration for five years at the 14,440-square-kilometer (5,575-square-mile) Khan Asparuh field over British-based Melrose Resources.

Total plans to work with Austria's OMV and Spain's Repsol. U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil had filed an initial offer, but later withdrew from the tender.

Bulgaria expects substantial amounts of gas, after exploration in nearby Romanian waters showed reserves of up to 84 billion cubic meter of gas.

The Balkan country, which is almost fully dependent on Russian gas supplies, has been trying to diversify its energy sources.

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