French oil giant Total (NYSE: TOT) and its partners Austria’s OMV and Spain’s Repsol have started drilling a third well in a block off the Bulgarian coast in the Black Sea, Total’s Bulgarian business said on Nov. 7.

It said the drilling will take place on Block 1-21 Han Asparuh, some 107 km (66 miles) east of the Black Sea port of Varna, following two previous drilling campaigns.

“This drilling is a new important moment for our operations in the Black Sea. It demonstrates our commitment to exploring the full hydrocarbon potential of the Han Asparuh Block,” Kevin Hannaford, general manager of Total E&P Bulgaria, said.

Last year Bulgaria’s center-right government extended its permit for exploration for gas and oil to the Total-led consortium in a bid to end its dependence on Russian natural gas.