The Greek Parliament ratified the contracts for hydrocarbon exploration in four areas, off the island of Crete and the Ionian Sea.
In favor of the concessions voted lawmakers from ruling New Democracy, KINAL/PASOK and Greek Solution. Main opposition party SYRIZA expressed reservations. The Communist KKE and MeRA25 voted against them.
The contracts include the sea area designated ‘Ionio’ (Spain-based consortium Repsol Exploracion/Hellenic Petroleum or HELPE); ‘Block 10 Ionian Sea’ in the Gulf of Kyparissia, SW Peloponnese (HELPE); and the maritime areas ‘West of Crete’ and ‘Southwest of Crete’ (consortium of Total, ExxonMobil and HELPE).
Provisions of the contracts for the Cretan and Ionian beds include an 8-year limit on exploration, and a 25-year limit on exploitation.
If hydrocarbons are found, the state stands to gain 40% of the total investment revenues, broken down as follows: 20% as income tax plus 5% as regional tax, with the rest being income on royalties based on a rising scale linked to hydrocarbon volume.
In addition, the contracts include strict regulations on environmental protection and reduction of environmental threats at both exploration and exploitation stages.
The contracts were negotiated by the government of SYRIZA.
Deputy Environment and Energy Minister Gerassimos said that “provisions of Greek and EU legislation have been fulfilled.” He added that environmental issues will be constantly monitored, while every monitoring ship will include observers on board who will be able to intervene when necessary.
Syriza rapporteur Sokratis Famellos said that his party expressed reservations because the government has already expressed its intention to give up the state’s stake in the projects, and therefore of public interest, as expressed through HELPE. “If this is confirmed, then it will constitute a decision to sell off natural resources and hydrocarbon opportunities, and act as a waiver of the environmental obligations Greece has assumed.” This selloff, he said, “is done directly through the private sector, without any tenders and with loss to public revenue.” [amna]