Energy security and diversification topped the bilateral agenda of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Sofia yesterday in the wake of a government ban on shale gas exploration via hydro-fracking by US oil giant Chevron.

“We are partners in helping advance Bulgaria’s energy independence and security and in protecting the beautiful Bulgarian environment. When we demonstrate that technologies are safe we pursue both goals at once,” the US top diplomat said after talks with Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov.

Mrs Clinton will send her envoy for Eurasian energy, Richard Morningstar, to Sofia this week for talks on “how we can be more helpful in protecting your environment and advancing your energy security goals.” Russia’s Gazprom chief executive Alexey Miller is also due to travel to Sofia this week.

Bulgaria is almost totally dependent on Russia for its supplies of natural gas and oil and the US has always supported the country’s efforts to wean itself off Russia’s energy orb. A senior US State Department official commented yesterday that economically dependent countries are usually also politically dependent.

Massive opposition from the public forced the Bulgarian government in January to withdraw a shale gas exploration permit it had granted to US oil giant Chevron and to subsequently ban the commonly used testing and exploration technique of hydro-fracking over environmental concerns.

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