Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev announced France's Total SA and Britain's Melrose Resources Plc have submitted bids for exploration and exploitation of Bulgaria's natural in its "Khan Asparuh" Black Sea bloc.
The winner of the bid, who will receive a five-year exploration permit, is expected to be announced next month.
U.S. company Exxon Mobil was expected to submit a bid but did not do so, Novinte news agency reported Thursday.
Dobrev explained the lack of an Exxon Mobil bid by stating the company has apparently decided to focus its investments in Romania, where it already has exploration permits.
Besides the potential Khan Asparuh offshore Black Sea bloc of natural gas reserves, Bulgaria is also optimistic about discovering roughly 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas, which would represent about 30 percent of the country's consumption onshore near the village of Deventsi where U.S. company Direct Petroleum Transatlantic is currently undertaking exploration.