U.S. ExxonMobil, France’s Total and Hellenic Petroleum will sign contracts for the exploitation of hydrocarbon on two land and one marine plot on Thursday.
Announcing the upcoming signature during a press conference at the Ministry of Energy and Environment, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that this is “a significant development” that will turn Greece into an “international energy and transit hub.”
Tsipras stressed that “the procedures for the exploitation of old and new marine sites are proceeding whether they concern the Ionian or the south and west of Crete, following the strong interest expressed by large energy companies.”
Last week, Greece’s energy minister Giorgos Stathakis held talks with representatives of U.S. oil major ExxonMobil and France’s Total about gas exploration opportunities off Greek shores.
A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a consortium of ExxonMobil, Total and Greece’s biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum are expected to submit an offer “in the coming period” for exploration south of Crete.
The meeting on last Friday focused on “prospects for exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits,” the energy ministry said in a statement.
Greece has made several fruitless attempts over the last 50 years to find big oil and gas reserves, but its debt crisis has prompted it to step up those efforts.
Athens previously tendered blocks off Crete, its southernmost island north of Egypt and Libya and west of Cyprus, in 2013 but did not receive bids.
The country is also hoping to find gas off western Greece and last year named a consortium of Total, Hellenic Petroleum and Italy’s Edison as the preferred bidder for an offshore gas drilling block in the Ionian Sea. Licensing is expected this year.
Exploring for gas in the Mediterranean has become more attractive since Italy’s Eni discovered Egypt’s offshore Zohr field in the Levant Basin in 2015, the biggest gas field in the Mediterranean and estimated to contain 850 billion cubic metres of gas.
In the Ionian…..right on the biggest earthquake fault line. We’ve been “enjoying” massive earthquakes in Kefalonia, Lefkada and Zakinthos just for the early exploration….