Greece kicks off Oil and Gas explorations

New drilling activity from France’s Total and Italy’s Edison in the west of the Country.

The Greek Parliament gave its definitive ‘green light’ to 4 concessions for the exploration of many areas of Greece in search of hydrocarbons. Four blocks, one offshore and three onshore, in the area had been ratified in 2016, but gridlock prevented the parliament from ratifying the exploration contracts. Encouraged by recent large gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean, Greece is eager to attract investment in its energy sector as it tries to emerge from years of economic crisis. Therefore the go-ahead on Wednesday for companies including France’s Total and Italy’s Edison to explore for oil and gas.

As reported by the Reuters agency, Total and Edison are in fact part of a consortium, together with the local Hellenic Petroleum, which had already obtained the concession to explore Block 2 in the Ionian Sea last year. Hellenic Petroleum also won the Arta-Preveza and Peloponnese onshore blocks and Greece’s sole oil producer, Energean, won the Aitoloakarnania block.

“We are turning a new page in the chapter of tapping into hydrocarbons” Energy Minister George Stathakis told parliament before a vote to ratify the leases.
He said the country was slowly catching up with Cyprus, Israel and Egypt. Greece will start opening new onshore oil and gas blocks for exploration in 2018, the head of the Hellenic Hydrocarbons Resources Management (HHRM), Yannis Bassias, told Reuters in an interview published last May.

One of the first areas slated for opening is the region of Grevena in northern Greece, close to the route of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), Bassias said.
“As of next year, and perhaps earlier, we will begin announcing that we are opening the door to whoever is interested in onshore sites,” according to the head of Greece’s oil and gas resource management body.

Total has shown interest in the eastern Mediterranean following major gas discoveries off Israel and Egypt. It is currently drilling for oil off Cyprus. Both Hellenic Petroleum and Energean plan to start drilling in 2019.


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