Athens wants greater French hydrocarbon engagement

The government wants France’s Total to play a more active role in Greek offshore hydrocarbon exploration, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made clear during a meeting in Paris yesterday with the French group’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanné.

The potential of Greece’s hydrocarbon market, including offshore licenses south and southwest of Crete held by a Total-led consortium – it also features Exxon Mobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) – was the main focus of yesterday’s meeting.

Processing of seismic data collected from the Cretan offshore blocks has provided strong evidence of a deposit sharing similar attributes to Egypt’s Zohr gas field. However, this needs to be proved in practice. French officials have remained cautiously optimistic as they await initial drilling operations for a clearer picture.

Total’s plans for exploration within the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone, specifically at Block 8, for which Total shares a license with Italy’s Eni, were also discussed yesterday.

Turkish drillship Yavuz has sought to engage in illegal exploration activities in this area. French officials do not intend to intercept any Turkish moves at this stage but are expected to do so if the exploratory rights of Total and Eni are disputed once the companies decide to start exploring the area.


ELPE submits three bids, for Crete, Ionian, with partners

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has submitted offers, with partners, for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation rights concerning three offshore blocks off Crete and in the Ionian Sea, the petroleum group has confirmed in a company statement.

A consortium comprised of Total (40%, operator), ExxonMobil (40%) and ELPE (20%) submitted offers to tenders offering hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation rights for two offshore blocks, west of Crete and southwest of Crete, while a further offer for an Ionian block, offshore western Greece, was submitted by Repsol (50%, operator) and Hellenic Petroluem, ELPE announced.

The offers by ELPE and its partners come as a result of the stated interested for domestic hydrocarbon exploration and production by the Greek petroleum group, it noted in the statement.

In recent years, ELPE has secured upstream rights to specific areas in west Greece: Patraikos Gulf (ELPE 50% operator, Edison 50%), block 2 (Total 50% operator, ELPE 25% and Edison 25%), Arta – Preveza and NW Peloponnese. The company is also negotiating lease agreements for blocks 1 and 10. 

In his statement, ELPE’s chief executive Grigoris Stergioulis pointed out: “As part of ELPE’s group development strategy, we are consistently implementing our decision to be active in the national effort to discover and exploit domestic hydrocarbon reserves. We rely on our competitive advantages, namely the accumulated experience, technical brilliance, know-how and well-rounded understanding of the Greek business environment that our employees possess.

Continuing our successful participation in international tenders in western Greece, and taking into consideration the recent, positive research conducted in the Patraikos area, we submitted three new offers for the offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and in the southwest of Crete, thus manifesting the ELPE group’s international prestige. We collaborate with top international companies in our sector able to provide the human capital, the ideas, the advanced technology and the financial capability required, so as to successfully face, along with the ELPE group, this unprecedented – for Greek standards – challenge.

It is our desire to leverage international best practice and the most advanced technology available in order to trace potential reserves; such a development will be a game-changer for the ELPE group and our prospects, it will substantially endorse the national economy, and will strengthen the local communities. The group, stronger than ever before, declares its dedication to the preservation of the country’s natural heritage, by implementing the strictest international regulations for the protection of the environment, a position that is non-negotiable for the group.”


Oil majors set for Crete block offers, milder Ionian interest

With just days remaining before deadlines for tenders offering exploration and exploitation rights at a total of three offshore blocks off Crete and in the Ionian Sea, five petroleum firms, including three international oil majors, took part in an exploration security-related meeting held by EDEY (Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company) yesterday, which suggests they will be submitting offers.

Exxon Mobil, Total and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), whose interest in the Greek market prompted EDEY to offer two offshore blocks off Crete, Repsol, following developments for Ionian Sea investments, and Energean Oil & Gas, whose interest in the Ionian Sea area led to the other EDEY tender, all participated in the hydrocarbon company’s meeting, ahead of the deadines for the three tenders, expiring this coming Monday.

The interest expressed by investors for the two Cretan offshore blocks appears to be greater.

Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek, which have visited a related virtual room set up for the tenders by EDEY for information, were not represented by any officials at yesterday’s meeting. It remains to be seen whether these absences mean that the two firms will not submit offers on Monday.

At this stage it appears that a three-member consortium made up of Exxon Mobil, Total and ELPE, as well as Italy’s Eni, already active in Cyrpus, will submit offers for the Cretan blocks. A third offer from Noble and Delek would come as a surprise.

Eni recently had to deal with Turkish intervention in Cypriot waters, which has delayed the firm’s drilling plans for that area.

As for the one Ionian Sea block being offered, Spain’s Repsol has displayed a consistent interest, despite negative reactions by local authorities and citizens against nearby exploration work, with Energean, in the Ioannina area, northwestern Greece.

In an Oil & Gas Journal article published last month, two EDEY officials informed that areas west and southwest of Crete have shown serious signs of deposits.

The northwest part of the Ionian Sea, the location of the third block being offered, has also shown hydrocarbon potential as it shares similar geological characteristics with the southeast Adriatic Sea, already producing.





ExxonMobil talks with ELPE-Total-Edison for Corfu block after Easter

A prospective meeting between a consortium comprised of Total, Edison and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and ExxonMobil for talks over a possible partnership enabling collaborative exploration of an offshore block in the Ionian Sea, west of Corfu, marked out as Block 2, is expected to take place following the Easter break.

The signing, almost a month ago, of a Block 2 exploration and exploitation license between the consortium and local authorities was reportedly endorsed by Greek Parliament just days ago.

Details concering the roles to be played by the two sides in a prospective partnership for Block 2 are expected to be explored at the upcoming meeting.

In comments made last last month, Yannis Grigoriou, ELPE’s Hydrocarbon Exploration and Production Manager, noted that seismic survey work for Block 2 could be launched by early 2018.

ExxonMobil has been engaged in talks with ELPE for quite some time now to look into the possibility of joining the Greek company for exploration and exploitation work at a total of six blocks licenced to ELPE. The acquisition of new blocks is also being considered. The unexplored offshore region south of Crete is a top priority.

ELPE, Total and Edison were offered a license for Block 2, west of Corfu, last October following the launch of an international tender back in November, 2014. A total of 20 offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete were made available to investors.

Block 2 agreement paves way for ELPE, ExxonMobil partnership

The signing of an agreement today by a consortium comprised of Total, Edison and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and local authorities for an exploration and exploitation license concerning Block 2, an offshore block in the Ionian Sea, west of Corfu, represents a key development that may help attract other major international players to Greece’s hydrocarbon sector.

Today’s agreement is expected to help promote the establishment of a partnership between ELPE and ExxonMobil for Greece’s hydrocarbon market. The prospect of this collaboration has been indirectly confirmed by ELPE’s administration.

ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, appears ready to sign a strategic partnership agreement with ELPE for an involvement in six blocks already licensed to the Greek corporation as well as for joint participation in prospective tenders to offer new hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation licenses.

Should ELPE and ExxonMobil reach a partnership agreement, ExxonMobil would become involved in the Block 2 license for which a deal was signed today between the Total-Edison-ELPE consortium and local authorities; Block 1, northwest of Corfu, a license for which ELPE has been declared the preferred bidder; Block 10 at the Gulf of Kyparissia, west of the Peloponnese, another license for which ELPE has been declared the preferred bidder; the Gulf of Patras, where ELPE has already settled; as well two onshore blocks in northwest Peloponnese and Arta-Preveza, northwestern Greece.

An energy ministry announcement released today, following the signing of its agreement with the Total-Edison-ELPE consortium, noted that negotiations have already begun with ELPE for the signing of a license concerning Block 10.


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.