Being one of the very few remaining sectors that has the potential to support the growth of the Armenian economy, oil and gas can provide unparalleled opportunities for security of power supply, development of local industry and infrastructure, growth of small and medium sized enterprises, job opportunities for Armenian youths and specialists in the country or in diaspora, as well as an increase in foreign and local direct investments that will trigger a positive domino effect, allowing for cross-sectoral strategic partnerships.
Previously, at 2015, three companies are exploring for oil in the territory of Armenia and the territory of Armenia was divided into six conditional blocks distributed among the companies.
The first and third blocks located in the north of the country were explored by Russian company Armoil.
The second block in Armavir province was explored by Armenian company Integral Petroleum.
The fourth, fifth and sixth blocks in Gegharkunik and southern regions were explored by Blackstairs Energy Armenia company.
All the companies have obtained all necessary licenses and permits and presented their findings later.
Oil exploration in Armenia began in the 40-50s of the last century. It was stepped up in the '60s, when several 4-4.5 km deep wells were drilled in Artashat and Hoktemberyan regions near Yerevan. Some wells contained small amounts of oil and gas.
Before 1991 some 120 wells were drilled in Ararat Valley, but none contained enough oil for commercial development. The interest of foreign companies in Armenia increased in 2000 following a rise in global oil and natural gas prices.
The Syunik, Vayotsdzor and Gegharkunik regions extends east to the border with oil-rich Azerbaijan and south toward the border with Iran.
Last year, company Armenian Cas and Power Enterhpisec Incorporated (AGAPE) intended to hold in Armenia geological exploration for oil and gas reserves. They planned to carry out geological exploration work in Vayots Dzor and Syunik districts using seismic vibrators. The company submitted an application to the state non-profit enterprise "Environmental Impact Expertise".
This year and before the velvet revolution, a newly established company controlled by Russian-Armenian billionaire Samvel Karapetian has asked for a government permission to explore for oil and gas in northern Armenia.
The company called Armenian Oil and Gas held a mandatory public hearing in Gyumri on the environmental impact of oil exploration sought by it in the surrounding Shirak province and two other regions in the country's north. They were attended by officials from the Environment Protection Ministry, geologists and ecologists.
Speaking at the discussion, an Armenian Oil and Gas representative, Erik Ananian, said the company would use nuclear magnetic resonance, as opposed to traditional drilling, to determine whether the area close to Georgia has commercially viable hydrocarbon reserves. In Shirak, he said, the exploration would be carried out near six rural communities, but it also remained unclear when it would start the exploratory work in case of securing clearance from the government.
For now it is still too early to speculate about the potential size of oil or gas fields in the country. We mentioned above all the effort and trials were done before April 2018 but without a clear results and data figures.
What is expected from the new cabinet is to restart exploration from scratch; a new, clear and transparent seismic survey or a magnetic resonance can allow for deeper penetration than exploratory drilling done in Armenia to date.
Do we have oil and/or gas?
How much oil and/or gas could Armenia have?
Let's wait and see; we believe that the new cabinet and ministry can unlock the opportunity of the petroleum sector in Armenia with the collaboration of private sector, diaspora and stakeholders.
YES, Armenia can only turn into a successful petroleum-producing nation with the support, faith, commitment and constructive inputs provided by our decision makers, local partners, civil society and academic institutions, as well as our transparent media.
Working together on Unlocking Opportunities is a prime priority.
The key rests with every one of us within his or her own capacity!