Prospection Licences are issued to a maximum of one year, and are granted for prospecting hydrocarbons by various geophysical techniques (the seismic surveys are excluded), geochemical methods and geological sampling of the seabed. A licence for the prospection of hydrocarbons does not entitle the licensee to drill for hydrocarbons.
Exploration Licences are exclusive licences and granted for a period up to seven years (initial exploration period for up to three years, with the ability for two renewals of two years each) for exploring hydrocarbons within a certain geographical area. The exploration activities include gravimetric, magnetic and seismic surveys, exploration wells and appraisal of hydrocarbon discoveries. On each renewal, at least 25% of the initial licensed area is relinquished. The licensing procedure may be initiated either at the initiative of the Council of Ministers (Licensing Round), either upon application by an interesting entity in accordance with the Hydrocarbon (Prospection, Exploration and Exploitation) Law.
In case of a commercial hydrocarbon discovery, the licensee has the right to be granted an Exploitation Licence for that discovery. The Exploitation Licence is granted for an initial period of up to 25 years with the ability for one renewal of up to ten years. At the exploitation stage the licensee implements the hydrocarbon development & production program or any treatment in order to make the hydrocarbons marketable and capable to be stored and transported (along with their by-products) to the loading installations for further disposal. In the abovementioned treatment, refining is not included.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Hydrocarbons Laws and Regulations, the Council of Ministers is the competent body for granting, extension, renewal or termination of hydrocarbon Prospection, Exploration and Exploitation Licences.