Greece’s Energy Ministry announced two international tenders for granting the right to explore and exploit hydrocarbons the south of Crete and in the Ionian Sea.
The announcements on 7 August followed the applications submitted by the Total-ExxonMobil-EL.PE. (Hellenic Petroleum) Consortium, interested in the sea areas southwest and west of Crete, and Energean Oil & Gas, for the sea area in Western Greece in the Ionian Sea, Greece’s Energy Ministry said in a press release.
Greece’s Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis has already signed the relevant ministerial decisions. The Energy Ministry invites interested parties to submit tenders within 90 days of the date of publication of the Notice of Invitation to Tender in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Greece has launched a program to exploit its oil and gas reserves, spurred on by its protracted financial crisis and encouraged by a similar venture from Cyprus which got international support and protection.
In May it granted a concession to Hellenic Petroleum for onshore exploration at two sites in the west of the country, and to privately held Energean for another block.
Energean is currently the country’s only offshore oil producer, in northeastern Greece, with an average production of 3,500 barrels per day last year.
As far back as 2011, professor Foskolos a university of Crete professor and hydrocarbon expert working for the Canadian government had assessed that, based on existing surveys, deposits of natural gas in the sea region between Plakia and Frangokastelo, south of the island of Crete, amount to 1.5 trillion cubic metres.
Professor Foskolos has in the past been critical of the slow pace of the exploration by the Greek state and the delays in declaring an Exclusive Economic Zone to the south of Crete. The possible reason for this delay was Greece’s sensitivity to Turkish objections. Turkey is not a party to United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which sets out the provisions for the declaration of an EEZ and therefore does not recognize EEZ agreements of neighbouring countries.