In 2018, petroleum geologist Peter Darakchiev turns 90 years. He was born on April 29th 1928 in Berlin, in the family of tailor Ivan Darakchiev. His family comes from the village of Ichera, Kotel.
He completed his high school education at “G. S. Rakovski” Men’s High School in Sofia in 1946. From the autumn of the same year he was admitted as a student, at the expense of his family, at the Geological Institute of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Charles University in Prague. During his studies, he took part in the group of Dr. Pouba, who, at the request of the Geological Survey of Czechoslovakia, performed detailed geological mapping of copper deposits in Permian sediments in the North Czech Republic, near the Polish border.
He also participated in the group of Professor Augusta, who studies vertebrate fauna in the limestone Permian sediments in Moravia.
Petar Darakchiev completed his university education in 1952 with thesis on “Geological relationships in the Boskovit graben in Moravia” and received the title of geologist with RND (rehabilitate naturale doctore). This is a science degree comparable to that of an engineer.
In the late 1930s, the opinion of the Bulgarian geologists was that the most promising area for the discovery of oil and gas deposits was the territory of northeastern Bulgaria. That is why in 1939 the Department of Natural Resources of the Ministry of Trade and Industry commissioned the geologists V. Tsankov, E. Cohen and R. Beregov, in connection with the planned program for geophysical studies, to draw a geological map in M 1 : 40,000 and to establish the existence of probable structural forms in terms of oil and gas. In 1948, the Complex Geological Expedition (CGE), which employs mainly Soviet specialists, began exploration work for oil and gas in Varna. As a result of drilling work in 1949, a gas fountain was obtained from the Paleogene deposits. In the early 1950s, the CCE split into two divisions: Polymetals – for exploration of ore and the Varna Exploration Group – dealing mainly with oil and gas. The head of the Varna Study Group is Viktor Yaroshenko and the chief geologist is Stepan Petuhov. At the beginning of 1951 the group compiled the first report on the geological construction and oil and gas prospects of the Varna region. On May 31, 1951, structural well No. 25 in the Tyulenovo structure was found a gas-oil fountain.
This is the beginning of the oil history in Bulgaria. Following the discovery of the Tyulenovo field, the interest of the researchers is directed to the Moesian platform, where a series of large-scale deposits have been discovered. After his return to Bulgaria in 1952, P. Darakchiev was appointed as a geologist at the Varna Oil Group. It is included in the exploration of the oil field near the Black Sea coast near the village of Tyulenovo, Shabla. At the same time, he is responsible for the geological activity of the prospecting drill in areas in Dobrudzha, where geophysical studies suggest conditions for oil and gas saturation in deposits, similar to those of the Tyulenovo field.
In 1955, the Oil and Gas Exploration, Production and Processing Division was established, which later merged with the Geological Research Management Directorate (headed by Yovcho Yovchev). This marks the beginning of a new stage in the development of exploration activities. In the new administration, Peter Darakchiev was appointed to a responsible geological position. Jointly and under the direction of Soviet academician Trofimiuk, Darakchiev together with Dr. Atanasov and Iv. Monahov is involved in determining the locations of reference-parametric wells in northern Bulgaria, in order to obtain data on the deep geological construction and oil and gas content of the sedimentary section of the Moesian platform at a depth of up to 4500 m. As a result of the performed activities and analyzes, the first oil and gas zoning of this part of the country is carried out and expert assessment of the hydrocarbon potential of the formations is being carried out. At the same time, Darakchiev participated in the preparation of reports on the results of the drilling studies to clarify the structural features of the Balchishka and Spasov area, in summarizing the results of the deep oil and gas drilling in the Mesozoic sediments of the Moesian Platform.
During this period, under the guidance of Peter Darakchiev, geological mapping was also carried out in the Fore-Balkan zone and the adjacent parts of the Moesian Platform between the Black Sea and the Osam River. 4 geological groups are organized with the leaders N. Voenkin, St. Zhelev, Hr. Chembarski and Iv. Baev . Areas have been prepared for examinations of oil and gas attached to anticline structures. Oil and gas exploration is focused on the Western Fore-Balkans, where prospective formations lie at accessible depths. As a result, the Chiren gas field, the deposit at Uglen village, gas storage north of Vratsa and others were discovered in the Paleogene level of Bulgarevo, Krapets, Durankulak.
P. Darakchiev, together with his colleagues K. Ovcharov, N. Sapundzhiev and Dr. Y. Shimanov, B. Monov, G. Dimov and J. Vladov, actively participate in the activity. After the discovery of the Dobrudzha coal deposit in the Carboniferous sediments, through deep oil drilling near the village of Rakovski (Kavarna), the beginning of its exploration with deep wells began. The data from the drilling and geophysical studies carried out in them allowed P. Darakchiev and the team to establish the normal formation order of the coal sediments, their reliable correlation and area distribution, the tectonic structure of the deposit.
P. Darakchiev is actively involved in oil and gas exploration in Iraq. In 1972, geological survey was commissioned to contract with Iraq for the prospecting and exploration of oil and gas fields. In the established Bulgarian oil group Peter Darakchiev is a chief geologist.
Until 1980, when the expedition was discontinued due to the military conflict between Iraq and Iran, the deep geological construction of 8 areas in the Mosul region of northwestern Iraq was explored, using modern seismic methods. One oil variety (Sfaya) and 3 gas fields (Sasan, Rafan and Mitiyaha) were discovered, researched and submitted for exploitation.
In 1980, a trade agreement was signed with Libya for the exploration of oil and gas in two areas in Libya – Murzuq and Ghadames. The implementation of this contract is entrusted to the Bulgarian Oil Company based in Tripolis. In the same year, a group of the Geology Committee, headed by the Vice-Chairman Assoc. Prof. Dr. G. Dimov, including P. Darakchiev, R. Ognianov and N. Smilenov, visited Libya to get acquainted with the conditions for oil and gas exploration. The results of the visit are summarized by G. Dimov, P. Darakchiev and colleagues and cover the analysis of the oil and gas exploration conducted so far in the Middle and Lower Paleozoic sediments in the regions of Murzuq and Ghadames and the opportunities for the discovery of new oil and gas fields in them.
Petar Darakchiev advises the Bulgarian Oil Company on the prospecting and exploration activities in the Libyan region of Murzuq and Ghadames, and is also a contract consultant on exploration of the Djibisa oil field in northeastern Syria. Until 1990, P. Darakchiev was a senior geologist in the Geology Committee. In 1989, following the decision of the state leadership, to attract foreign investments in the Bulgarian oil industry, in the Committee on Geology and Mineral Resources, under the leadership of P. Darakchiev and Prof. Dr. Peter Bokov, the tender documents for the issuance of foreign licenses were prepared by companies for 5 blocks of land in Eastern Bulgaria and 5 blocks in the Black Sea area.
After retirement, P. Darakchiev worked as a consultant on the Geology Committee of American, English and Bulgarian companies exploring for oil and gas in Bulgaria. He also consulted the geological group of Overgas Inc. AD, which was working on a research project funded by the European Union to explore the opportunities for underground coal gasification of the Dobrudzha coal field, as well as other projects of Overgas Inc. AD for oil and gas.
Under his guidance and with the participation of the Ukrainian academician A. Paliy, the results of the oil and gas survey in Dobrudzha were summarized, which proved the prospect of Paleozoic sediments in the Dobrich concession block of the Rusgeokom company.
Petar Darakchiev also actively participates in the public geological life in Bulgaria – in events, conferences and more.
The participation of Peter Darakchiev is an honor for every committee. In 2013, he was elected a member of the Honorary Organizing Committee of the 4th International Scientific and Technical Conference “Geology and hydrocarbon potential of the Balkan-Black Sea region”, held on September 11-15, 2013, at the International House of Scientists “Frderic Joliot-Curieat” at St.St. Constantine and Helena resort, the city of Varna, dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the University of Mining and Geology ”St. Ivan Rilski” and the 50th anniversary of the Faculty of Geology and Geography at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.The scientific and research activity of P. Darakchiev is reflected in numerous publications and fund developments, the total number of which exceeds thirty.
In writing this article, the following materials were used – text and photos from Peter Darakchiev’s personal archive, as well as his personal memories, for which we thank him. We would also like to thank our colleague Valery Trendafilov from the National Geological Fund of the Directorate for Natural Resources, Concessions and Control, Department of the National Geological Services, who, as always, kindly provided us with information about the reports stored in the Geofund, co-authored by Peter Darakchiev.
Prof. d. n. Platon Chumachenko