Greece advances its upstream gas exploration program

Following an announcement by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and successful geophysical surveys conducted in early 2022 in the Central and South Ionian, Greece’s national hydrocarbons and energy resources corporation, HEREMA, today announced the next steps in the country’s upstream exploration programme with the acquisition of a 3D seismic survey in the North Ionian Sea (block 2), and 2D seismic surveys West and South/West of Crete.

In April, the Prime Minister announced the country’s accelerated timeframe to explore Greece’s upstream potential, with focus on natural gas and the expansion of HEREMA, which today oversees upstream exploration, greenhouse gas management & sequestration, gas storage, offshore wind and international pipeline projects.

The surveys will take place during the winter months ahead, in order to minimize any environmental impact, and will be conducted in accordance with the best-in-class standards for environmental protection, including:

  • Use of the “soft start” protocol to ensure that marine mammals can temporarily depart from the seismic survey area prior to its commencement.
  • Doubling of marine mammal observers onboard the seismic survey vessel to ensure protection of cetaceans and other marine life within the safety zone.
  • Extension of the safety zone radius around the seismic survey vessel in case of detection of large marine animals.
  • Waiting period 30 minutes before the start and stop of each exploration activity.
  • Passive acoustic monitoring of underwater sounds for the measurement of sea noise levels and the detection of marine mammals.
  • Application of a 1 km exclusion zone around the “Natura” areas as well as fish farms.
  • Airborne monitoring of cetaceans during and after seismic surveys.
  • Full compliance with all applicable regulations and guidelines in accordance with MARPOL VI and ACCOBAMS conventions and JNCC guidelines.

Compliance with the above measures and all relevant procedures shall be ensured by the presence on board the research vessel of independent observers from HEREMA. Furthermore, during the surveys experienced specialized personnel is in constant communication with the involved local and regional port authorities as well as with the commercial and fishing vessels that sail near the survey areas in order to ensure the smooth execution of both the geophysical surveys as well as the daily activities in the specific areas.

Aris Stefatos, CEO of HEREMA, commented “we are very happy to announce this progress in line with the plan we announced with the Prime Minister earlier this year. International investors and partners in both conventional and renewable energies have reacted very positively to that plan. In August we welcomed ExxonMobil as new operator in Crete, and the pace at which we progress is evidence of our excellent cooperation with leading energy companies and service providers, such as ExxonMobil, Helleniq Energy, Energean, and PGS — a leading global seismic acquisition and processing company.”

Rikard Scoufias, Chairman of HEREMA hailed the progress and said “this marks another important milestone in our strategy to monetize Greece’s natural gas resources and our efforts to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable energy mix and strengthening security of supply. Greek natural gas can play an important role — not only for Greece, but also in support of the broader region and Europe’s increasing demand for domestic energy resources at a crucial time for energy security.”

HEREMA Profile

Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management S.A. (HEREMA S.A.), formerly HHRM, is Greece’s independent State-owned company responsible for managing the country’s hydrocarbon resources. Following the appointment in 2020 of new leadership for the company, HEREMA’s strategic remit has been expanded and today encompasses the upstream sector, greenhouse gas management & sequestration, gas storage, international pipeline projects (including the EastMed pipeline, and the recently completed IGB interconnector), and offshore wind.



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.