YEREVAN (ARKA News) — Three companies are exploring for oil in the territory of Armenia, Vardan Vardanyan, the head of an energy and natural resources ministry’s department overseeing development of mines, said today. He said the territory of Armenia is divided into six conditional blocks distributed among the companies.

He said the first and third blocks located in the north of the country are being explored by Russian company Armoil; the second block in Armavir province is being explored by Armenian company Integral Petroleum, and the fourth, fifth and sixth blocks in Gegharkunik and southern regions are being explored by Blackstairs Energy Armenia company.

He said the companies have obtained all necessary licenses and permits and will present their findings later. According to him, Armoil and Integral Petroleum were granted 5-year licenses in 2013 while the Blackstairs Energy Armenia has extended its two-year license three times.

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.

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