Greece, Egypt sign EEZ agreement, Turkey reacts

A Greek-Egyptian agreement signed yesterday to designate an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean between the two countries, an area containing promising oil and gas reserves, “confirms and secures the continental shelf and EEZ rights and influence of our islands,” declared Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

The agreement, co-signed by Dendias with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo, takes Greek-Egyptian relations to a new level of closer ties, Dendias noted.

“The agreement with Egypt is within the framework of international law, respects all concepts of international law and the law of the sea and good neighbourly relations, and contributes to security and stability in the region,” Dendias said.

The agreement between Greece and Egypt is the complete opposite of an illegal, invalid and legally groundless memorandum of understanding between Turkey and Libya, now nullified, he pointed out.

Greece is determined to establish EEZ agreements with all other neighboring countries, always within the framework of international law and the law of the sea, Dendias noted, citing yesterday’s Greek-Egyptian agreement and an agreement in June with Italy.

The Greek agreement with Italy, on maritime boundaries that established an EEZ, resolved longstanding issues over fishing rights in the Ionian Sea.

Turkey responded to yesterday’s Greek-Egyptian agreement by notifying it has scheduled a live-fire military exercise at a sea area between the Greek islands Rhodes and Kastelorizo for August 10 and 11.

Turkey tensions will not be escalated, ‘aim achieved’

Turkey will not continue intensifying its provocations in the East Mediterranean as the neighboring country has already achieved its main goal, a State Department declaration noting that the country is performing hydrocarbon exploration activities in disputed territory, Dr Konstantinos Nikolaou, a seasoned petroleum geologist and energy economist, supports.

Turkey’s provocations over the past few days – the country sent a seismic survey vessel into Greek EEZ waters for further exploration work following such initiatives in the past – represent part of a carefully planned strategy whose aim is to end Turkey’s East Mediterranean isolation of recent years and put the country back in the frame of the region’s hydrocarbon developments, experts believe.

Turkey has refused to sign the UN’s International Law of the Sea treaty, strongly disagreeing with Article 121, giving EEZ and continental shelf rights to island areas.

Instead, the country has followed its own rules, adjusting them as it pleases, to avoid giving any rights to island areas.

Besides seeking to reinforce the country’s position that rejects any EEZ rights for islands, the latest Turkish moves also aim to cancel EEZ agreements signed by Cyprus with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon.

Turkey has unsuccessfully sought to sign an EEZ agreement with Egypt, during Muslim Brotherhood times.

Dr. Nikolaou predicts that there will be no Turkish movement south of Crete as the transfer of an area by Libya, Turkey’s regional partner, would be required. The area of Benghazi is not controlled by Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of Libya’s UN-recognized government, but by renegade commander Khalifa Haftar.

Ultimately, the Turkish strategy in the wider region is aiming for co-exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits that may be discovered.

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.

Greece, Albania reach EEZ deal promising Block 1, 2 progress

The governments of Greece and Albania appear to have reached an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) agreement whose implementation would clearly define offshore regional borders and enable hydrocarbon exploration progress in the Ionian Sea’s Blocks 1 and 2. An official announcement by both sides is expected soon, energypress has been informed.

In the past, Albania has strongly reacted against the prospect of any exploration at these blocks, which the neighboring country has regarded as disputed offshore territory.

The Greek government’s agreement with Tirana comes as acknowledgment of partial faults that have existed until now in the mapping out of the EEZ, reliable sources noted.

In exchange, Albanian officials will not be able to raise hydrocarbon-related objections with regards to the continental shelf close to Greece’s Othoni and Erikousa islets, located in the Ionian Sea’s north.

Leading Greek government officials have expressed confidence that problems encountered in the past, from Albanian opposition against Greek hydrocarbon activity in the region to attempts by the neighboring country to explore areas within Greece’s EEZ, will not be repeated following this latest agreement.

Blocks 1 and 2 were included in a Greek package of 20 offshore blocks included in a tender that ended in July, 2015.

A consortium comprised of Total, ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and Edison signed an agreement for Block 2, in the Ionian Sea’s north, last year.

The situation concerning Block 1, in the Ionian Sea’s northwest, remains unclear. ELPE had submitted an offer but local authorities have kept putting off its appraisal.

Less than a decade ago, Turkey had intervened following a previous EEZ agreement reached between Greece and Albania, demanding Tirana to retract the arrangement as it offered Greece full islands rights, which carried negative implications concerning Ankara’s hydrocarbon interests in the Aegean Sea.