Around 500 million euros (US$567 million) will be invested over the next seven to eight years in exploring Greece’s western offshore zone, a leading energy official said this week.
Speaking at the East Mediterranean Forum in Athens, Yannis Bassias, CEO of Hellenic Hydrocarbon Resources Management (HHRM), said exploration would soon begin in the Patriakos Gulf (West) block off the northwestern coast of the Peloponnese and in the Katakolon block off the western coast. Founded in 2011, HHRM is the state-run office that oversees Greece’s upstream sector and is responsible for negotiating licences.
In addition to wok beginning on those blocks, Greece’s Hellenic Petroleum and Italy’s Edison are due to start exploring in the Patraikos Gulf block in 2019.
Athens-based Energean Oil & Gas holds the licence for Katakolon and has estimated it contains 10.5 million barrels of oil. Production from the asset is due to start in 2020.
Energean is the only company producing oil in Greece, where it extracts around 4,000 bpd from its Prinos operations in the north Aegean Sea. Greek oil consumption averages around 330,000 bpd.
The Greek Parliament is due to ratify exploration licences for an area in the Ionian Sea northwest of Corfu that has been awarded to Hellenic Petroleum and Spain’s Repsol. It is also expected to approve licences for a consortium comprised of Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum for areas west and northwest of Crete, and for Block 10 in the northern Aegean for Hellenic Petroleum.
The licences were granted in 2016 following Greece’s first modern licensing round in 2014. Athens made 20 offshore blocks available, but during that time the Greek government was immersed in a financial crisis that resulted in only a few bids from international companies. The blocks tendered extended from the northwestern Ionian Sea, along Greece’s western coast and to the west and south of Crete.
Commenting on the depth of water in the Ionian and Cretan Seas, Bassias said few companies now possess the technology to drill at depths of 3,000 metres, though he said the necessary equipment and knowhow would probably be cheaper by the time the companies decided to advance their projects. He said Greece could even serve as the proving ground for such technology.