ELPE, foreign partners to seek exploration of surprise spot

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), backed by two international partners, is preparing to submit an application to the Environment and Energy Ministry for exploration of an unanticipated region, sources have informed.

Although no details have been released as the Greek corporation has signed an agreement of confidentiality with its partners, sources have noted that the area is neither in the Ionian Sea nor an onshore location.

The same sources said the application will be submitted to the Greek ministry in mid-October as certain details still need to be finalized.

ELPE and its foreign partners chose to focus on the undisclosed location after reassessing an abundance of older seismic data and considering Greece as a whole, the sources said. Company officials are believed to be making frequent trips to London for talks with prospective investors.

New 3D data gained from research activity in the Gulf of Patras, western Greece, has established new exploration prospects for ELPE in areas neglected until now, ELPE sources have said.

Investors have the right to submit exploration applications to the ministry for locations as long as they are not included in tenders. If approved,  applications are published in the government gazette and other parties that may be interested are given an opportunity to submit offers.

US oil and gas corporations, including Exxon Mobil, have been keeping a close watch on developments in the wider east Mediterranean region. ELPE has maintained close ties with Exxon Mobil, which has offered technological backing for the development of two ELPE refineries.

Ties between the two companies go back a long way. The American corporation is very familiar with the Greek market. In the early 80s, the company, named Esso at the the time, operated a refinery in Thessaloniki, which it had purchased from the Greek State in 1983. In 2014, Exxon Mobil acquired seismic data from Norwegian petroleum geo-services company PGS, as had ELPE and France’s Total.

ELPE is currently engaged in talks with US firm Calfrac to reactivate an exploration license in the Thracian Sea, Yannis Grigoriou, the Greek company’s Exploration Manager, told an energy conference, Global Oil & Gas, in Athens yesterday. ELPE holds a 25 stake in the Thracian Sea license, while Calfrac controls a majority 75 percent share.