Offshore wind farm framework imminent, consultation in June

A framework for the development of offshore wind farms in Greek sea territory is nearing completion at the energy ministry and, according to sources, is expected to undergo consultation within the next month.

Sea plots will be offered through one auction, offering investors the opportunity to secure both plots and tariffs for prospective offshore wind farms. A previous plan had entailed two auction stages.

Interested parties will need to submit related applications to EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, coordinator of the overall procedure. Investors, if deemed by EDEY to meet financial criteria, will be given the green light to study the generation potential of specific sea plots.

Investors will be given a period of between one to two years to study the prospects of sea plots to be offered through the auction.

Offshore plots, primarily northeast of Evia, off Skyros, Limnos, as well as port city Alexandroupouli, in the northeast, will be offered to investors. These plots are expected to offer wind energy potential of up to 10 GW.

It remains unclear how a number of investment plans that have already been granted licenses will be handled.

 

HHRM, Hellenic Centre sign agreement for marine research

State-owned HHRM/EDEY (Hellenic Hydrocarbon Resources Management) has entered into a strategic collaboration with the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) through the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation focused on the protection of Greece’s marine environment, centered on the exchange of information, know-how, and the provision of technical support.

The agreement marks a key milestone within the scope of HHRM’s dual mandate: Accelerating Greece’s upstream sector with the aim of strengthening our country’s energy supply while upholding the highest possible standards in terms of environmental protection. The collaboration between both organisations will be centered on four key areas:

  • Underwater noise levels with an emphasis on how this impacts marine life. This includes steps towards the establishment of permanent offshore observatories, with an initial focus on the Ionian Sea, that will passively monitor marine sound.
  • Understanding the needs of offshore wind farm projects with a focus on technical, environmental and spatial issues, leveraging cross-pollination opportunities with the oil & gas industry.
  • CCS, including technical, environmental and spatial issues, in addition to exploring methods of monitoring underwater CO2 storage sites for early detection of any escapes.
  • Marine geology, with the aim of better understanding the characteristics of the seabed and shallow sediments, with a focus on identifying active hydrocarbon seepages and marine geohazards.

The HCMR is not only the largest research foundation for marine sciences in Greece, it is one of the largest in Europe, with a 60 years track record of independent scientific work on Greece’s seas and marine ecosystems that promote the protection of our marine environment. It’s worth mentioning that the HCRM is a forerunner in the development of offshore environmental assessments for hydrocarbon exploration, having already conducted the largest environmental assessment in Greece, in both the Ionian and Cretan Seas.

Commenting at the signing of the MoC, Mr. Aristofanis Stefatos, CEO of HHRM, said “this is a first step in what we hope is going to be a long-lasting collaboration,” while adding that “this cooperation constitutes a crucial step towards the prevention and mitigation of any potential environmental impact on marine life and marine ecosystems that could be derived from offshore energy activities, while also contributing to accelerate efforts focused on the deployment of new energy technologies.”

Mr. Antonios Magoulas, President of the HCMR, underlined “this is a strategic cooperation that can add great value to our country and to the HCMR. Not only will it contribute to key research areas, it provides us with the opportunity to be a crucial contributor in the development of environmental strategies and mitigation procedures with respect to the deployment of offshore energy technologies in our country.”

HHRM is dedicated to enabling the development and monetization of Greece’s natural gas deposits, while fostering the creation of a robust energy system that safeguards national strategic interests and contributes to these efforts at both a national and European level.

 

ExxonMobil, like Total, seems disinterested in Cretan blocks

American multinational oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil appears likely to follow the way of France’s TotalEnergies towards a possible withdrawal from two offshore blocks, west and southwest of Crete. The two companies each hold 40 percent stakes in these offshore licenses, Greece’s ELPE maintaining the other 20 percent.

Indications of a reduction in interest by the two corporations run contrary to  growing interest expressed by Greek officials for domestic exploration as a result of the EU’s decision to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas.

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, recently forwarded letters to these upstream companies, informing them of the Greek government’s intentions for a renewed, more ambitious hydrocarbon strategy.

EDEY officials declined to comment on the retreats by ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies but noted that a new round of talks for upstream investments is beginning. Other corporations are interested in Greece’s upstream sector, EDEY officials informed.

EDEY is determined to keep a tight schedule and secure seismic surveys at the two Cretan offshore areas this coming autumn and in spring, 2023.

Sanctions on Russia boost Greece’s upstream prospects

The EU’s revised natural gas strategy, seeking alternative solutions as a result of sanctions imposed on Russia, has created favorable conditions for Greece’s upstream sector as the Greek market could become a destination for upstream companies operating in Russia and now needing to shift.

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, has forwarded letters to upstream companies already maintaining interests in Greece, informing them of the government’s intentions for a renewed, more ambitious hydrocarbon strategy.

EDEY also intends to hold meetings with these upstream companies to determine their levels of interest in the Greek market and shape its actions accordingly.

Total and ExxonMobil maintain hydrocarbon interests in Greece as co-members of a consortium holding two offshore licenses, west and southwest Crete. The two companies each have 40 percent stakes in this consortium, Greece’s ELPE holding the other 20 percent.

The consortium, it is believed, aims to conduct seismic surveys next winter at the offshore Crete licenses, still at early exploratory stages.

Besides these two licenses, a further four licenses have been granted in Greece. Energean maintains an onshore block in the Ioannina area, northwestern Greece. The company also holds a 75 percent stake at Block 2, northwest of Corfu, with ELPE as its partner. Also, ELPE holds two offshore licenses in the west, Block 10 and Ionio.

These six licenses could generate total turnover of 250 billion euros by 2030, assuming a 20 percent success rate during exploration, according to a conservative forecast made by EDEY.

Drilling for natural gas to begin with licenses in country’s west

Exploratory drilling for natural gas deposits at a total of six licenses in Greece will begin in the country’s west with two Greek companies, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Energean, leading the way, according to the outcome of talks yesterday at the headquarters of EDEY, Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, which were headed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Drilling is expected to begin in mid-2023 at Energean’s onshore Ioannina block; followed, a year later, by drilling at Block 2, an offshore license northwest of Corfu that is held by Energean (75%) and ELPE (25%), following Total’s withdrawal; as well as Block 10 and Ionio, two offshore licenses held by ELPE.

Two further licenses, west and southwest of Crete, both held by a consortium that has brought together TotalEnergies (40%), ExxonMobil (40%) and ELPE (20%), are regarded as the most promising of all six licenses but, at the same time, are the least developed in terms or preliminary exploratory work. The consortium aims to conduct, next winter, seismic surveys covering 6,500 square kilometers.

Energean has already conducted a seismic survey at its Ioannina block, the most developed of all six licenses in Greece, and has set a drilling target.

Government now fully encouraging upstream activity

The Greek government is now fully encouraging foreign and domestic upstream companies to continue their hydrocarbon exploration activities at licenses held in the country for discovery and production of natural gas deposits.

In comments offered yesterday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, while referring to the government’s latest energy-crisis support package for households and businesses, spoke of the country’s need to utilize its natural gas deposits as part of a national effort to achieve energy sufficiency.

Europe’s need to drastically reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas, as highlighted by the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has prompted the Greek government to reassess its energy policy and, once again, turn to the country’s hydrocarbon potential.

The European Commission has prioritized swifter development of renewable energy sources in the EU, but cover will be needed from other energy sources during the transition, expected to last many years.

Brussels is now backing the further maintenance of European nuclear and coal-fired power stations, as well as extraction of oil and natural gas for a longer period.

Aris Stefatos, chief executive at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, has, on a number of occasions, estimated that Greece’s natural gas deposits could be worth 250 billion euros.

Hydrocarbon prospects reassessed following invasion

The prospects of Greece’s hydrocarbon sector, given the latest conditions shaped by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which has highlighted the need for natural gas source diversification, will be reassessed at a meeting scheduled to take place at the Prime Minister’s office tomorrow, with participation from the leadership of the energy ministry and EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

The meeting’s participants are expected to examine if and how the country’s hydrocarbon prospects and can be more effectively incorporated into Greece’s energy policies.

On a wider scale, Russia’s attack on Ukraine has prompted the EU to look for ways to revise its energy policy in order to reduce its reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible. A number of EU member states are now beginning to refocus on domestic hydrocarbon potential.

Renewable energy remains the top priority in Greece’s energy policy as the country aims to transition to a climate-neutral economy.

However, natural gas is planned to serve as a bridge to facilitate the transition towards greater RES market penetration.

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) conducted seismic surveys in January at the Gulf of Kyparissia, west of the Peloponnese, at its Block 10 license, commissioning Norwegian company Sharewater and survey vessel SW Cook.

The same vessel then conducted conduct surveys at ELPE’s ‘Ionio’ license, an Ionian Sea block measuring 6,671.13 square kilometers, southwest of Corfu, opposite the Paxi islands.

EDEY, in an announcement, noted that Greece’s potential gas deposits could generate turnover in excess of 250 billion euros, which would support the energy transition.

EDEY studying Norwegian upstream diversification

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is exploring, with the expertise and support of Norwegian scientists, the prospect of incorporating carbon capture and storage (CCS) and offshore wind farms into its range of activities, taking Norway as an example.

The effort is being conducted with financial support from the European Economic Area (EEA) grants mechanism, established by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein with the aim, amongst other matters, of strengthening bilateral ties with 15 European countries, including Greece.

Norway, which has accumulated years of expertise through hydrocarbon extraction, has successfully combined its upstream sector with new energy fields such as CCS and offshore wind farms.

According to EDEY chief executive Aristofanis Stefatos, the objective is to make note of the most positive aspects of these Norwegian synergies to help Greece develop important projects needed for the energy transition, without excluding exploration of natural gas deposits in Greek seas should market conditions become appropriate.

The EDEY study with Norwegian experts, titled “Review of the Transformation of the Norwegian Oil and Gas Industry during the Energy Transition and its application in Greece”, began last April and has been included in the EEA Grants program covering 2014 to 2021.

 

 

ELPE, Energean withdraw from Gulf of Patras license

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Energean have decided to withdraw from their Gulf of Patras license in western Greece, the two companies have informed EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

The Gulf of Patras area’s hydrocarbon quantity, believed to measure at least 100 million barrels, will now remain unconfirmed, following this latest development.

In January, 2020, the consortium had applied for an 18-month extension to complete second-phase work at the Gulf of Patras license. At the time, the consortium had cited insufficient port facilities for entry of the project’s drilling facility and other equipment.

The consortium would have had to conduct a first round of drilling this winter or abandon the project. It opted for the latter.

The Gulf of Patras license was originally granted to ELPE through an open-door tender launched in 2012 and completed in 2014.

Italy’s Edison was also a partner but it withdrew and was replaced by Energean.

The project area covers 1,900 square kilometers. Its estimated hydrocarbon reserves, estimated at between 100 and 140 million barrels, had the potential to offer annual turnover of roughly 200 million euros.

 

Energean granted 30-month extension for Ioaninna field

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, has granted upstream company Energean a second extension, for two-and-half years, from April 3, to conduct exploration work at its onshore Ioaninna field in Greece’s northwest.

Energean had previously been given a six-month extension beyond April 3, which expired yesterday.

The upstream company, listed on the London and Tel Aviv bourses, requested further exploration time for its Ioaninna field as a result of bureaucratic delays linked to the withdrawal of former field project partner Repsol, which was the operator with a 60 percent stake, sources informed.

The extension highlights Energean’s determination to not abandon its licenses and keep exploring for possible hydrocarbon deposits, despite the unfavorable conditions and prospects for fossil fuels, company sources told energypress.

 

EDEY: Greece has 30 years to utilize natural gas resources

Taking into account that 2050 is often presented as the carbon-neutral target year, Greece has a 30-year period of opportunity to utilize the country’s natural gas resources and generate revenue, plus the additional potential provided by the role of gas in blue hydrogen production, EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, has noted in a report accompanying its financial results for 2020.

EDEY posted a total turnover reduction to 2.8 million euros for 2020, down from 5.5 million euros in 2019, as well as a drop in profit after tax to 1.7 million euros in 2020 from 4.3 million euros in the previous year.

Greece continues to have a window of opportunity to create revenue from natural gas resources through efforts that do not contravene the country’s ambitious green-energy transition now in progress, EDEY noted, highlighting that carbon emissions released by natural gas are 50 percent lower than those of fossil fuels and the National Energy and Climate Plan’s objective (NECP) for a natural gas energy mix share of 40 percent by 2030.

 

Repsol leaving last Greek concession, domestic upstream aspirations fading

Spain’s Repsol is believed to be in the process of abandoning its last remaining hydrocarbon concession in Greece, an Ionian Sea block, even though the company has yet to officially notify EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

It remains to be seen whether ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), Repsol’s partner in the Ionian Sea block, will follow suit and return its share to EDEY. ELPE officials have not clarified the group’s position.

Repsol previously returned to the Greek State its stake in an Etoloakarnania concession along with project partner Energean, and also transferred its stake in an Ioannina block to the Greek upstream company.

Like all major oil groups, Repsol has suffered major financial setbacks as a result of the pandemic and drop in oil prices, serving as catalysts in the company’s decision to restrict its exposure to the upstream sector.

At the beginning of this year, Repsol announced a decision to exit 14 countries, including Greece, from a total of 28 in which the company has held interests.

Upstream players are looking to readjust following the impact of the pandemic and more ambitious climate-change targets, including by the EU.

These developments appear to be shelving Greece’s ambitions for hydrocarbon discoveries following initiatives launched 11 to 12 years ago.

Both ELPE and Energean have requested and received extensions from EDEY for a series of concessions held within Greek territory.

Energean’s Prinos field losses seen reaching €32m in 2021

Upstream company Energean’s Prinos field concession, south of Kavala in northern Greece, is projected to incur yet another increase in losses this year, in excess of 32 million euros, according to a 2021 budget submitted by the company to EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

These losses, which do not include debt payments for investments made in previous years, will add to accumulated losses of 200 million euros incurred by the company through its operations at Prinos, Greece’s only active hydrocarbon field.

Production at the Prinos field is expected to narrowly exceed a total of 500,000 barrels this year, according to the company budget’s projections.

The budget’s projections were based on the assumptions of an average Brent index oil price of 60 dollars per barrel, reduced revenues of between 7 and 8 dollars per barrel at the Prinos field as a result of the inferior quality of oil produced, as well as a euro-dollar exchange rate of 1.20.

Based on these figures, the Prinos field’s revenue for 2021 is projected to reach 22.3 million euros, with expenses reaching 54.3 million euros.

Despite the negative results amid an unfavorable climate, Energean plans to recommence investments at the Gulf of Kavala’s “Epsilon” field with an amount of 13 million euros, part of total investments worth 23 million euros.

Prinos is currently producing from 14 wells, two out of which are horizontal at the North Prinos and Epsilon Fields.

The horizontal drills at the Epsilon field are expected to begin producing 15 months after the recommencement of investments.

These investments will include the completion of a new platform at the Lamda deposit, to emerge as the first new platform in Greece since 1977. Prinos began producing 40 years ago.

 

 

Grant Thornton Hellas developing Greek offshore wind farm framework

Business adviser Grant Thornton Hellas, commissioned and funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has taken on the development of an institutional, legal and regulatory framework for offshore wind farms in Greece, in support of an overall effort being made by the energy ministry, energypress sources have informed.

Grant Thornton Hellas has already received an assortment of proposals, including on spatial and licensing matters, from interested parties, among them ELETAEN (Greek Wind Energy Association), ESIAPE (Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers), EDEY (Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company), and IPTO (power grid operator).

Grant Thornton Hellas intends to also examine frameworks developed by other countries for their offshore wind farm sectors.

The energy ministry is striving to finalize the Greek framework’s key sections by June, as has been announced by ministry officials, or, at the very latest, within the summer, ahead of legislative procedures by the government.

A high-level plan, the framework’s nucleus, is planned to be completed within May so that legislative procedures can take place in June, sources said.

To serve as a road map, the high-level plan will need to provide details on: the selection criteria to be applied when choosing offshore areas to host initial projects; licensing steps for investors; the agency to be given responsibility of the licensing and project maturity processes; and the timing of auctions for tariffs.

 

Energean upbeat on support prospects for Prinos, 4-year extension granted

Upstream company Energean has received promising feedback from the finance and energy ministries in its effort to secure an EU support package to protect the sustainability of its offshore Prinos field, the country’s only producing unit, in the North Aegean.

The government has relayed that it is cautiously optimistic of a favorable outcome in its support-package application submitted to the European Commission.

Brussels appears to be concluding its exchange with Greek government officials handling the issue and could soon offer its approval, sources informed.

The effort has lasted nearly nine months from the time Greek government officials submitted a support request accompanied by Energean’s Prinos business plan, worth nearly 75 million euros.

The time taken in Brussels has been attributed to this essentially being the EU’s sole case concerning a support request in the hydrocarbon exploration sector.

Meanwhile, EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, has granted Energean Oil & Gas, a member of the Energean Group, a four-year extension, until March 19, 2025, for exploration activities aiming to identify new fields in the Prinos and South Kavala areas, following a request submitted by the company.

Spain’s Repsol also exiting Ioannina license, to be fully held by Energean

Spain’s Repsol is continuing to disinvest its hydrocarbon interests in the Greek market in the wake of a return to the Greek State of its licensing rights for a block in Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece, the company’s latest move being a plan to withdraw from a license concerning a block in Ioannina, also in the northwest.

Repsol, which formed a partnership with Energean Oil & Gas for the Ioannina block, holds a 60 percent stake in this project, now at a pre-drilling stage, as an exploratory step.

Repsol has informed EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, of its decision to withdraw from the Ioannina block, according to sources. The Spanish petroleum firm’s 60 percent stake will be transferred to Greek partner Energean, currently holder of the license’s other 40 percent, the sources added.

The Spanish company’s decisions on Greece are part of a wider disinvestment strategy aiming to reduce the firm’s international exposure to hydrocarbon exploration and production activities, sources explained.

Energean will seek a deadline extension, from EDEY, for drilling at the Ioannina license as it intends to find a new partner, sources informed. The Greek company remains interested in exploring the area’s hydrocarbon potential, the sources added.

Repsol’s intentions concerning an offshore block in the Ionian Sea, for which it has formed a 50-50 joint venture with Hellenic Petroleum, remain unclear.

New deadline extensions granted for work at hydrocarbon blocks

The higher risk entailed in hydrocarbon exploration as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and a mass turn, including by petroleum companies, to green-energy activities are factors forcing investors with licenses to Greek blocks to delay their development plans.

Energean Oil & Gas and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) have both requested and been granted deadline extensions for preliminary exploration work at two blocks to which they hold licenses that were approved by Greek authorities in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

These extensions concern offshore Block 2 in the Ionian Sea – for which Energean is the operator with a 75 percent stake following Total’s withdrawal in February, 2020, and ELPE the minority partner with a 25 percent stake – and an onshore block in the northwest Peloponnese for which ELPE is the sole participant.

Energean requested and was granted a 24-month extension, until March 15, 2023, by EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, for preliminary work at Block 2 in the Ionian Sea.

EDEY also granted ELPE an extension, though shorter – 6 months, to September 15, 2021 – for the completion of preliminary work at its northwest Peloponnese license. ELPE originally sought a 20-month extension until March 15, 2022.

These extensions follow a decision, early this year, by Repsol and Energean to return to the Greek State their license to an onshore block at Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece.

Also earlier this year, EDEY granted a third extension to ELPE and Edison E&P (now Energean, following its acquisition of the Italian company’s local hydrocarbon portfolio) for initial drilling at a Gulf of Patras block in the country’s west, which has been extended to January, 2023.

Total, ExxonMobil, ELPE delay Crete surveys for next winter

A decision by the three-member consortium comprising Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) to conduct seismic surveys at two offshore blocks south and west of Crete in the winter of 2021-2022, instead of this winter, highlights the upstream market’s negative climate, both in Greece and internationally.

Upstream players, drastically cutting down on investments costs amid the crisis, have cancelled scores of investment plans, especially those concerning the development of new fields.

Based on the terms of its contract, the Total-ExxonMobil-ELPE consortium also had the opportunity to conduct seismic surveys at its Cretan offshore blocks this winter.

It should be pointed out that the consortium has yet to receive environmental approval for these blocks. Nor have these slots been included in an annual workplan delivered by EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

Even so, Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE do not appear prepared, under the current conditions, to increase their investment risk in the region.

Greek hydrocarbon company bolsters offshore safety alliances

Hellenic Hydrocarbon Resources Management (HHRM/EDEY) has just hosted the Mediterranean Offshore Authorities Forum with the participation of the competent authorities for offshore safety from EU Mediterranean countries (Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain and Portugal), the Department of Public Works of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works of Cyprus and the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company.

HHRM CEO Aristofanis Stefatos acknowledged the fact that HHRM has signed MoUs with many of the participating countries and that the forum promises to be the beginning of fruitful collaboration in the future.

He expressed an interest for the forum to serve as a platform facilitating the exchange of information on safety aspects, discussion of technical developments in member countries, and exchange of ideas and experiences. Stefatos also expressed his interest in making this forum a formal entity in the future and touched on the dynamics and challenges of the industry.

“As Europe paves its way into the future, the accessibility to energy resources such as natural gas, the recognized transition fuel, becomes critically important. The security and diversification of our energy resources serves the best interest of all Europeans.  Today, at times when the industry is facing unprecedented challenges, this is our chance, if not obligation, to join forces and cooperate even more dynamically towards the common goal of the development of the sector to the highest standards. There is a legacy of knowledge and experience in the field that can be applied across industry in many other sectors,” Stefatos noted.

The welcome was also extended by Joerg Koehli, Head of Upstream Oil and Gas Team of the European Commission, who highlighted the importance of collaboration between competent authorities and mentioned that meetings of the EU Offshore Authorities Group will also hopefully resume in the near future.

Alexandra Sdoukou, secretary-general of Greece’s environment and energy ministry, welcomed the initiative with the following statement: “I commend HHRM’s initiative for creating the forum of the competent authorities on offshore safety of the EU Mediterranean member states. Dialogue and exchange of expertise have always been the driving forces for progress and development. Finding common ground for communication between countries, in order to meet common challenges and goals, is an essential step for success. The technical experience and specialization that HHRM continues to acquire through such initiatives classifies it among those organizations that will assist in the development of new energy projects and infrastructure in Greece, but even more importantly, it can also benefit our neighboring countries in similar endeavors”.

The participants and the main topics of the forum

The forum facilitated constructive dialogue between the delegates of institutions and ministries of national governments from European countries including, among others: Katerina Plati (Cypriot Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Insurance, Department of Labour Inspection); Vlatka Vanicek (Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency);  Katerina Kostaki (HHRM); Roberto Cianella (Italian Ministry of Economic Development Directorate-General for Infrastructures, Safety and Security of the Energy and Geomining systems); Stelios Zervos (Cypriot Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works Department of Public Works). In addition to the above, the following also took part in the discussion: Maria Matzakou (HHRM); Nick Barkas (HHRM); Irini Eleftheriou and Nikolaos Drousiotis (Cyprus Hydrocarbon Company); Jose Miguel Martins (Mining Management Division, Directorate General for Energy and Geology); María Henche (Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge); David Dobrinic (Croatian Hydrocarbon Service); Albert Caruana, Charles Galea and Yanika Farrugia from the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta.

Repsol given 6-month extension for Ioannina license preliminary work

A pandemic-related extension request made by Spain’s Repsol for an additional six-month period to complete preliminary research concerning a license in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, has been granted by EDEY, Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, in a decision reached last week that resets the deadline for April 2, 2021.

Repsol, operator of a consortium formed with Energean Oil & Gas for the Ioannina license, had lodged its extension request late in August.

Repsol’s preliminary research work at the Ioannina license was initially expected to be completed by early October ahead of a decision on whether it would proceed with drilling.

The pandemic has severely impacted the upstream industry worldwide. Multinationals engaged in hydrocarbon research and production activities have severely limited their investment plans as a result of the pandemic’s impact on petroleum markets.

A rebound for the upstream sector appears highly unlikely any time soon given the rising second wave of coronavirus cases.

The EDEY extension will enable Repsol to conduct a more thorough analysis of seismic data collected and enable the company to hold on for the prospect of improved upstream industry conditions.

EDEY justified its extension by noting it will help the investors complete their assessment of technical work conducted during the preliminary stage.

 

 

Ministry OKs environmental study for blocks south of Crete

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has approved a strategic environmental impact study concerning an offshore area south of Crete in preparation for tenders to offer exploration and production licenses for two blocks covering most of the island’s width.

Giannis Basias, the former head official at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, went ahead with the strategic environmental impact study last August to clear the way for government authorities to stage tenders for licenses and also spare  winning bidders of needing to wait for pending issues to be resolved before they can begin their exploration efforts.

In addition, it is believed EDEY took swift action for the environmental impact study covering the offshore area south of Crete in response to interest expressed by oil majors.

The two offshore blocks south of Crete measure a total of 33,933 square kilometers and cover all four prefectures spread across the island.

These vacant blocks are situated next to two blocks southwest and west of Crete that have already been licensed out to a three-member consortium headed by Total with ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum as partners.

The eastern flank of these two blocks is intruded by a corridor defined in a recent Turkish-Libyan maritime deal.

The Greek energy ministry’s approval of the strategic environmental impact study for south of Crete is not linked to Turkey’s heightened provocations in the Aegean Sea, ministry officials told energypress.

The environmental study’s approval means this offshore area is now set for tenders and also sends out a signal of readiness to the international upstream industry, the ministry officials explained.

Just days ago, the newly appointed EDEY administration and the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou met with officials of Total, operator of the consortium holding the two licenses southwest and west of Crete. Seismic surveys for these blocks will be completed by March next year, the Total officials appear to have promised.

New leadership at hydrocarbon management company EDEY

The Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company (EDEY), an independent company owned by the Hellenic Republic that oversees and manages the nation’s oil & gas exploration & production, investor relations and a growing portfolio of international energy infrastructure projects, has announced the appointment of a new chairman of the board of directors and a new chief executive. 

The appointments by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, follow the nomination by Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and endorsement by the Special Permanent Committee on Institutions and Transparency of the Hellenic Parliament.

In a statement, the Minister of Environment and Energy, Costis Hatzidakis, noted that the appointments “mark a new chapter for the company, which now has an expanded role following the absorption of a number of International trans-boundary gas pipeline projects, such as the Greek-Bulgarian (IGB) pipeline, IGI Poseidon and East Med – projects supported by inter-governmental agreements between several countries in the Mediterranean region that will strengthen European security of supply as well as Greece’s role as a protagonist nexus in some of the region’s most important strategic developments.” 

The newly appointed chairman, Rikard Scoufias, who joins the company in a non-executive capacity from a distinguished energy and extractives career in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa, commented: “This is an important moment in the history of EDEY. Strong corporate governance, especially environmental and social governance (ESG), is in unprecedented focus, nowhere more so than the energy and extractive sectors. It is a privilege to be asked to lead such an eminent board of directors, with distinguished careers from Greece, Norway, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Denmark and the United Kingdom, and we all look forward to work closely with the executive team and to guide the company into this new chapter of growth and continued success.”  

Aristofanis Stefatos, EDEY’s newly appointed CEO, who returns to Greece following a successful executive career in Norway’s oil and gas industry, where he served as COO, CEO and in non-executive roles noted: “Τhe opportunities that hydrocarbon exploration and production offer Greece are significant. By securing these opportunities today, we position the country for the widest possible strategic choices for the future – including the delivery of Greece’s committed plans for alternative energies and long-term decarbonization. We will achieve this ensuring that EDEY is widely recognized as an efficient, transparent and dedicated partner to investors and all stakeholders, whilst at the same time holding those partners to the highest international environmental and social standards.” 

Hydrocarbons can push RES sector to next stage, new EDEY official says

The hydrocarbons industry will continue to play an important role in the energy mix until 2050, despite a shift in policies turning to renewable energy, and could also serve as a lever of support propelling the RES sector to its next stage, according to Aristofanis Stefatos, the newly appointed chief executive of EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

Stefatos and Rikard Skoufias, concurrently named new president of EDEY, offered their views on the upstream sector during questioning by Greek Parliament’s permanent committee on institutions and transparency.

The two men, both proposed by energy minister Costis Hatzidakis for the top EDEY jobs, officially assumed their roles following approval by the committee.

During questioning, committee members asked about the future of the hydrocarbons sector and licenses in Greece given the major decline in crude oil prices, as well as climate change policies being adopted.

Stefatos described the dip in crude oil prices as a temporary condition, noting the sector has experienced such situations in the past before rebounding. “It is only a matter of time before the same thing happens again,” he noted.

The two officials were also asked to comment on environmental protection issues, while Stefatos, the new chief executive, was asked to clarify on his position as shareholder of a Norwegian upstream company.

An offshore corridor running down from Albania into Greece’s EEZ has potential, while signs of a deposit in the area are encouraging, Stefatos told the committee. However, further 3D seismic surveys must soon be conducted in the area, he stressed.

DEPA Infrastructure board soon, bidders shortlist in June

Corporate revisions at gas utility DEPA, shaped by legislation ratified in December, have just about been completed ahead of the enterprise’s privatization plan.

All that remains, according to sources, is an announcement of the board members at DEPA Infrastructure, one of the new corporate entities established as part of the utility’s transformation.

This announcement is expected to be made within the next one or two weeks. DEPA Infrastructure will be established as an entirely new company with its own tax file number.

DEPA Trade, another new entity emerging from the wider corporate revision, will succeed the existing DEPA utility.

The utility’s other division, DEPA International Projects will, for the time being, remain a subsidiary of DEPA Trade before it is broken away 60 days prior to the submission of bids for its parent company.

Then, as the final step of its process, DEPA International Projects will be merged with EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, the government has announced.

Nine bidding teams that have expressed official interest for DEPA Infrastructure are currently providing data to the privatization fund TAIPED, expected to shortlist candidates around June, sources estimate.

Meanwhile, DEPA is preparing its video data room as well as financial and technical reports that will be examined and evaluated by investors before they shape their bids. DEPA is expected to complete these reports in May.

DEPA International Projects, EDEY, the hydrocarbon company, to merge

An amendment permitting a prospective merger between DEPA International Projects – a new entity resulting from a split at gas utility DEPA – and EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is now being prepared at the energy ministry, energypress sources have informed.

A number of DEPA-related projects have been added to the DEPA International Projects portfolio, including the Greek-Italian IGI interconnection, EastMed and the Greek-Bulgarian IGB pipeline interconnection.

In addition, any future DEPA-related projects – directly or indirectly – concerning development, construction or management of interconnection infrastructure linking Greece with neighboring countries will also be added to the DEPA International Projects portfolio.

EDEY, the hydrocarbon project licensing authority in Greece, has assets of approximately 12.5 million euros. The company reported a post-tax profit of 4.3 million euros in 2019.

EDEY’s range of activities will be broadened as a result of the company’s merger with DEPA International Projects.

Special categorization for the new company that would exempt personnel remuneration packages and hiring policies from strict state monitoring is likely, sources noted.

The merger plan’s legal details could be attached to an energy ministry draft bill on environmental matters that is expected to be submitted to parliament following the Greek Easter break.

 

ELPE-Edison granted extra 18 months for troubled Patras license

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, the local partner of Gulf of Patras license in western Greece, has been granted an 18-month extension to complete second-phase work at the license. Project delays have been attributed to inadequate port infrastructure and bureaucracy.

ELPE, joined by Edison as a consortium partner for this hydrocarbon project, requested more time to complete the second phase, including exploratory drilling.

The consortium was expected to conduct its first drilling operation at the Gulf of Patras license this year but has been slowed down by insufficient port facilities at the regional Patras and Astakos ports, as well as environmental licensing procedures, according to sources.

ELPE and Edison require adequate port facilities, including storage, to ship in the project’s drilling equipment.

The Gulf of Patras drilling operation is seen as a project that could prompt further hydrocarbon investments, especially if this field’s probable oil deposit, estimated at 140 million barrels, is confirmed.

Bureaucracy and a lack of strategic planning for development of the country’s upstream sector has kept investors at a distance, oil company officials and industry experts have repeatedly noted over a number of years

The regional infrastructure’s inability to serve this venture’s needs has frustrated officials. The Gulf of Patras tender was launched back in 2012.

A previous extension had given the ELPE-Edison consortium until April 2, 2018 to complete the project’s second phase. This deadline has now been extended to October, 2, 2021.

 

Repsol-Energean given extra year for Ioannina license preliminary stage

A consortium comprising Repsol and Energean Oil & Gas has been granted a one-year extension by EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, to complete preliminary exploration work at an onshore license in the wider region of Ioannina, northwestern Greece.

Repsol, controlling a 60 percent stake in the consortium, and Energean, holding 40 percent stake, requested an additional year until October 2, 2020, to complete preliminary exploration work at the license.

This is the second deadline extension granted to Repsol-Energean for the license’s preliminary phase. A first extension, granted in 2017, expires next month. The consortium is currently processing new seismic data.

The EDEY extension decision also requires the consortium to complete a second exploration phase, involving deep drilling, by October 2, 2022, should the partners decide to pursue the license further.

The license location’s geological features, featuring rocky terrain, are considered challenging. Also, the two companies have faced resistance, at times extreme, from small groups representing local communities while conducting their seismic research and related activities. The support of local landowners exceeds 90 percent, which has enabled the completion of research work in recent weeks.

Investors will ‘abandon Crete blocks if discoveries not significant’

Two offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete, licensed out just days ago to a three-member consortium comprised of Total (40%), ExxonMobil (40%) and Hellenic Petroleum-ELPE (20%), promise far greater production potential than blocks further north in the Ionian Sea, but investors will leave if these Cretan blocks do not offer significant output, a top-ranked official has noted.

Investors will abandon their efforts if a production target of at least 500 million barrels is not reached as the investment costs are considerable, Yiannis Basias, the head official at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, told state-run radio Proto Programma.

He denounced environmental concerns being expressed, describing these as inexplicable, “unless the intention is to stop the exploration activity altogether.”

Hydrocarbon companies spend vast amounts of money to ensure the avoidance of problems as, besides affecting the environment, local economy and health of individuals, any accident would also instantly blacklist companies and trouble their futures, the EDEY chief highlighted.

Sizable discoveries promise to greatly change Greece’s image and standing in the southeast Mediterranean region, Basias remarked, adding that the country’s economy would gain some balance for a less burdensome future.

At present, economic gains generated by tourism are immediately offset by costs concerning  natural gas and crude costs, the EDEY chief said.

EDEY aims to offer complete Crete portfolio with new areas to next gov’t

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is striving to have completed all preliminary work for new licenses off Crete so that Greece’s next government can be handed a complete portfolio ready for licensing procedures when it begins its tenure following the snap elections on July 7.

The country’s next administration will need to push ahead with new hydrocarbon projects.

EDEY is currently working on environmental studies concerning new areas south of Crete, which the company intends to offer to investors for exploration and production.

Their features differ to those of two offshore licenses already secured by a three-member consortium comprised of ExxonMobil, Total and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), west and southwest of Crete.

The new areas south of Crete had been swept aside in previous procedures but new scientific data has revitalized the interest of investors.

A signing ceremony for one of the two Cretan hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses, west of Crete, will be staged this Thursday, the ExxonMobil- Total-ELPE consortium has been informed.

The second license, southwest of Crete, may also be added to Thursday’s signing ceremony. However, its finalized version still needs to be formally presented, meaning investors will most probably need to wait until after Greece’s snap elections for this license to be signed.

EDEY paving the way for hydrocarbon surveys in north

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is preparing the ground for exploration work in the country’s north, in the Grevena area, as well as the wider west Macedonia region, through processing of seismic surveys and dialogue with local communities.

EDEY’s head official Yiannis Basias offered an indication of the hydrocarbon management company’s next steps at a recent signing ceremony for offshore licenses in the Ionian Sea and Block 10, off western Peloponnese.

He stressed that onshore areas also need to be explored, indicating Grevena would be one of these. The geological features of the Grevena region represent a continuation of Albanian territory being explored by multinational Shell.

Besides the potential of discovering hydrocarbon reserves, EDEY’s interest in Grevena and the west Macedonia region is also linked to a plan to replace lignite mining activities of the past, gradually winding down as a result of the EU’s decarbonization policies. Lignite deposits contain methane, which could be utilized in the domestic market and encourage entrepreneurial activities for continued regional economic growth and employment.

An older round of offshore licenses offered through a series of tenders staged by EDEY, beginning in 2012 with the Gulf of Patras license, will be completed with competitions for two blocks west and southwest of Crete, launched in 2017.