Hydrocarbons: Official support from PM Mitsotakis for exploration in Crete and the Ionian

Why Athens decided to exploit natural gas deposits in the Greek offshore and onshore blocks

For the first time, the Mitsotakis government is going public and providing political support to research to locate possible gas deposits, winking positively at investors for the continuation of research projects in the offshore and land blocks that have been granted to them over the past five years.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in his televised message yesterday about the package of support for households and businesses in the face of the energy crisis spoke openly about the need for hydrocarbon exploration in Greece. He spoke of Greece’s energy self-sufficiency, apparently driven by the European strategy of decoupling from Russian gas, and in addition to the policy of penetration of RES and energy savings, he stressed the “utilization of national gas fields with economic interest.”

The Greek Prime Minister, as revealed by OT on February 17 and March 5, reopens the hydrocarbon file, an area that he and his government had kept in the drawers, with a strong emphasis on RES and the “green” energy transition.

Investors still in Greece, like Total, ExxonMobil, Hellenic Petroleum and Energean, were disappointed by the lack of government support for their research projects, with the result that in the past they have returned to the Greek government concessions or some of them are seriously considering the possibility of divestment.

Land concessions such as “Ioannina” and “Katakolo” of Energean faced a series of administrative obstacles so that the research processes were constantly going backwards, the sea block “Ionio” despite the indications for remarkable deposits did not hold the Spanish Repsol, while the now very promising sea concessions of Crete “West of Crete” and “Southwest of Crete” have embroiled the consortium “Total- ExxonMobil – ELPE” in judicial escapades.

The war in Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine at the risk of energy adequacy that sparked across Europe and EU decisions to drastically reduce the imports of Russian gas, woke up the Maximos Palace. He rushed to look for alternative sources of supply in the field of gas field research.

In a wide-ranging meeting held on March 5 under the Prime Minister and with the participation of the Minister of Environment and Energy Costas Skrekas, the responsible Secretary General for Energy Alexandra Sdoukou, the CEO of EDEY Aris Stefatos and the CEO of HELPA examined the continuation of research in the regions of Western Greece.

This was preceded by the seismic surveys of HELPE in their marine concessions in the Ionian Sea, “block 10” in the Gulf of Kyparissia and “Ionian”, but also the presentation of encouraging geological data by the CEO of EDEY, who estimates that both offshore plots as well as those of Crete hold potential targets with deposits worth 250 billion euros. Overall, and if confirmed in the future by drilling, the quantities of natural gas stored under the seabed reach the largest deposit in Southeastern Europe, that of Zor in Egypt.

In addition, Energean is ready to produce natural gas (1 billion cubic meters) in Katakolo, while re-studying the targets on the land plot “Ioannina”.

Cyprus, Israel and EastMed

At the same time mobility is recorded in the EEZ areas of Cyprus and Israel.

Developments which seem to have raised the reflexes of Athens for the exploration of Greek deposits.

More specifically, the confirmatory drilling of ExxonMobil in the “Glafkos” deposit off Cyprus is in progress, which has initially been estimated to have quantities of gas between 140 and 220 billion cubic meters. Nicosia is also looking for a way to utilize the gas quantities of “Aphrodite”, which amount to 120 billion. sq.m.

Further east, in the Israeli EEZ, the Greek company Energean begins drilling in offshore concessions for the extraction of natural gas to targets totaling 110 billion. cubic meters, while at the end of the year the same company is expected to start the development of Caris in 2023 and North Caris. The quantities that will be exported total 100 billion sq.m..

The EastMed pipeline is also in the spotlight, with US officials folding and timidly reaffirming the support of Washington for the specific project.

At the same time, Egypt is in talks with Cyprus and Greece for the strengthening of energy relations through pipelines that will be directed to Europe, as new fuel, whenever necessary.

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