Task force assembled to hasten hydrocarbon exploration

A task force aiming to hasten the country’s hydrocarbon exploration and production procedures has been assembled following the signing of a related ministerial decision by energy minister Kostas Skrekas.

The plan to assemble a task force was announced approximately two months earlier during prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit to the headquarters of EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

The Greek leader took the opportunity, during his EDEY visit, to express support for the exploration of possible natural gas deposits in Greek offshore territory.

Dr. Theodoros Tsakiris, Associate Professor at the University of Nicosia and special adviser to the energy ministry, has been appointed head coordinator of the new task force, a five-member team.

According to energypress sources, the newly established task force will stage its first meeting within the current month.

Talks with representatives of companies holding licenses will be among the first initiatives to be taken by the task force for an assessment of administrative issues that may have been encountered by investors until now and discussion on proposals and experiences to date.

 

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.

ELPE to seek Ionian Sea partner, Crete delayed by case

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE has successfully completed seismic surveys at offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and the Gulf of Kyparissia, west of the Peloponnese, for which the company holds 100 percent exploration and exploitation rights, and once results have emerged, will seek to establish partnerships for these ventures, CEO Andreas Siamisiis noted yesterday.

The chief executive, who was speaking at ELPE’s official launch for a solar energy farm in Kozani, northern Greece, one of Europe’s biggest, informed that the group’s hydrocarbon exploration activities for potential natural gas deposits, part of the group portfolio, will focus on offshore areas and be accelerated.

The results of data collected through seismic surveys at the Ionian Sea and Gulf of Kyparissia blocks will now be studied, while 3D seismic data will also be collected, a procedure to require a further 12 months.

As for ELPE’s interests at Cretan offshore blocks, for which the company has formed a consortium with France’s Total and America’s ExxonMobil, surveys conducted have shown similarities with areas in the eastern Mediterranean, where major hydrocarbon discoveries have been made.

ELPE’s chief executive attributed delays affecting exploration work at the Cretan blocks to a legal case filed with the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, targeting the venture’s environmental impact study. No serious company would continue exploring with such a legal case pending, Siamisiis noted.

 

 

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.

No need for lignite schedule revisions, officials determine

The country’s decarbonization plan, not responsible for the sharp rise in electricity prices, does not require any revisions, lignite continuing to contribute to the energy mix in accordance with the grid’s needs, government officials have determined following a weekend meeting during which the country’s energy mix was examined.

Lignite has played a bigger role in the country’s energy mix over the past few days, covering more than 20 percent of electricity generation needs, up from 10.5 percent in January.

According to data provided by power grid operator IPTO, six of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations will operate today. Agios Dimitrios I, II, IV and V, Megalopoli IV and Meliti will all contribute to the grid, according to IPTO.

Officials participating at the weekend meeting also examined the progress of the country’s hydrocarbons sectors. EU member states are looking for ways to reduce their dependence on Russian gas.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) recently conducted seismic surveys at its ‘Ionio’ license, an Ionian Sea block southwest of Corfu. EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is now awaiting the investor’s next steps.

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.

ELPE preparing to survey ‘Ionio’ block after sector standstill

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) is preparing to conduct seismic surveys at a license in the Ionian Sea, a development that comes as a surprise given the overall stagnancy in Greece’s upstream sector and fears of an end to all exploration aspirations.

ELPE plans to conduct surveys at ‘Ionio’, its Ionian Sea block measuring 6,671.13 square kilometers, southwest of Corfu, opposite the Paxi islands, for a clearer picture on possible natural gas deposits, energypress sources have informed.

ELPE has stepped back from a number of upstream projects but, given this latest development, appears keen to carry on exploring in areas where it has maintained interests.

Last Friday, EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, announced that ELPE has completed seismic surveys at Block 10, west of the Peloponnese.

ELPE is going into the ‘Ionio’ project alone following the withdrawal of Spanish partner Repsol.

Norwegian company Sharewater has been commissioned the seismic survey for ELPE’s ‘Ionio’ block. Sharewater’s research and survey vessel SW Cook has arrived at the port of Patras in preparation for the task.

However, the vessel is reported to have suffered minor damage following a collision during the mooring process at the port and it remains unclear when it will be ready to proceed with the ‘Ionio’ block survey.

 

New Supreme Court hearing delay for Crete offshore licenses

A court hearing concerning a legal case filed by environmental groups challenging an environmental impact assessment for prospective hydrocarbon exploration at two offshore licenses, west and southwest of Crete, by a consortium consisting of Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), has been suspended for a fourth time since 2019 by the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, which has set a new date, October 5, 2022, according to sources.

The latest delay comes as a setback for the three-member consortium, which faces a first-stage exploration deadline preceding the new trial date.

Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE have planned seismic surveys at the two licenses, believed to offer natural gas production potential, but the trio cannot proceed with any exploration activity unless it overcomes this legal challenge.

Authorities tasked with assisting the government in legal action taken by environmental groups are seeking to move forward the new trial date, for a swifter conclusion.

The latest court delay highlights fears previously raised by upstream officials believing the country’s official policy on hydrocarbon deposit utilization remains ambiguous.

It remains to be seen how Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE will react to the hearing’s latest delay.

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 transfer of Ioannina block stake to Energean done, 4 players left

Spain’s Repsol has completed its strategic withdrawal from the Greek hydrocarbon market with the finalization of a transfer of its 60 percent share in the onshore Ioannina block, northwestern Greece, to project partner Energean.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas’ ministerial decision needed for the transfer’s finalization was published yesterday.

Repsol revealed its intention to withdraw from the Greek market early this year when the Spanish company and its partner for the Etoloakarnania block, Energean, both notified the Greek State and EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, of their decision to return their Etoloakarnania block rights.

This was followed by the transfer of Repsol’s share in the Ioannina black to Energean in March, while, late in July, the Spanish company announced its decision to withdraw from an Ionian Sea block, its last remaining license in Greece.

Repsol’s new business plan will limit the company’s presence to just 14 of 34 markets in which it has maintained interests. Repsol has also set an objective to reduce its annual investments in the upstream sector from 2.4 billion euros in 2019 to 1.6 billion euros by 2025.

Besides Repsol, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has also withdrawn from two onshore blocks, Arta-Preveza and Northwestern Peloponnese, made official on August 13.

Four investors remain active in Greece’s hydrocarbon exploration and production market, ELPE, Energean, France’s Total and the USA’s ExxonMobil, at a total of 11 licenses.

 

 

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.

ELPE to abandon its onshore block licenses in country’s west

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has decided to limit its presence in Greece’s upstream sector, driven by unfavorable market developments, sources have informed.

Spain’s Repsol recently also opted to surrender upstream rights in Greece.

ELPE intends to return to the Greek State its exploration and production licenses for two onshore blocks, Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese, sources noted. The Greek petroleum company has deemed exploration activities in these specific areas as no longer being feasible, the sources added.

The company, in reaching its decision to withdraw from the Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese blocks, also took into account negative reactions by local community groups as well as a series of bureaucratic obstacles, sources said.

The Greek State’s failure to deal with a lack of infrastructure at the port of Patras, close to these blocks in Greece’s west, is seen as a key factor in ELPE’s decision to withdraw from the Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese blocks, despite promising seismic research results.

ELPE does not intend to surrender its interests in offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete. It is a co-member of consortiums with Total and ExxonMobil for these licenses.

The government is placing emphasis on renewable energy sources, foreign minister Nikos Dendias has just told Arab News.

 

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.

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.

Spain’s Repsol on verge of exiting Greek upstream market

Spanish petroleum firm Repsol, a member of consortiums holding licenses to three fields in Greece, is on the verge of leaving the country’s upstream market as a part of a wider strategic adjustment prompted by the oil crisis and the pandemic, developments that have impacted exploration plans, as well as a company plan to reduce its environmental footprint, sources have informed.

The upstream industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has driven down prices and demand. The EU’s climate-change policies are another key factor behind Repsol’s decision.

Repsol is believed to have decided to significantly reduce the number of countries in which it is currently present for hydrocarbon exploration and production, the intention being to limit operations to the more lucrative of fields.

All three fields in Repsol’s Greek portfolio are still at preliminary research stages and do not offer any production assurances, meaning they will most probably be among the first to be scrapped by the company from its list of projects.

Respol formed a partnership with Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for offshore exploration in the Ionian Sea. Repsol is the operator in this arrangement. A license secured by the two partners for this region in 2018 was approved in Greek Parliament a year later.

Also, in 2017, Repsol agreed to enter a partnership with Energean Oil & Gas, acquiring 60 percent stakes, and the operator’s role, for onshore blocks in Ioannina and Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece.

Repsol maintains interests in over 40 countries, producing approximately 700,000 barrels per day.

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.

Energean Israeli exploration to focus on gas deposits estimated at 62 bcm

Energean Oil & Gas will now focus its Israeli exploration activities on the Karish, Tanin and Block 12 fields in an effort to boost its certified natural gas and liquid hydrocarbon reserves.

Following yesterday’s announcements by the Greek company, according to which an independent Competent Persons Report by DeGolyer and MacNaughton certifies 98.2 Bcm (3.5 Tcf) of gas and 99.6 million barrels of liquids (MMbbls) at the Karish, Karish North and Tanin offshore fields of Israel, the exploration program will restart in 2022 for a boost of reserves through the Karish, Tanin and Block 12 licenses. Energean plans to stage its next drilling efforts in two years.

Estimates indicate 62 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 33.4 million barrels of liquid hydrocarbons, representing 431 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Energean will also focus on Block 12 targets – named after the Greek gods Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Athena and Hestia – estimated to carry prospective gas reserves measuring 32.7 billion cubic meters, more than half the overall 62 billion cubic meters.

Discovery of these prospective reserves is expected to further reinforce the Greek company’s standing on the southeast Mediterranean energy map.

Hydrocarbon framework helping shape offshore wind farm rules

The energy ministry is utilizing the existing legal framework for offshore hydrocarbon licensing as a guide for the establishment of a respective set of rules for offshore wind farms, energypress sources have informed.

The energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou is heading a team assembled for this task, to include carving out offshore blocks in the Aegean and Ionian Seas that are deemed appropriate for offshore wind farm development.

Once defined, these blocks, which must neither trespass Natura environmental protection areas nor interfere with shipping and fishing zones, will be offered to investors through tenders.

An open-door procedure, or staging of tenders following official expressions of interest by investors for specific areas, as is the case with the hydrocarbon sector, may also be adopted for offshore wind farms.

The team led by Sdoukou is also examining equivalent legal frameworks used by other European countries.

Offshore block positioning and licensing; interconnections with the grid; and the remuneration formula for investments are three key aspects to be covered by the offshore farm sector regulations, Sdoukou recently told an ELETAEN (Greek Wind Energy Association) conference.

A related draft bill is expected to be ready towards the end of the year.

Floating wind turbine installations are most suitable for Greece as a result of the country’s deep waters and lack of obstacles for the development of this type of technology in international waters, studies have shown.

 

Greece is ‘hydrocarbon-promising, strategically located’

By Mr. Tassos Vlassopoulos

CEO of Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) Upstream

Greece has an old connection with hydrocarbons. More than 2,500 years ago, Herodotus mentioned the famous oil seep in Keri Zakynthos that still brings oil to the surface.

However, this connection is not only ancient. Besides the still producing Prinos Oil field and the verified West Katakolo Oil and Gas field, recent exploration activity has generated interest in the Greek hydrocarbons sector.

Oil and gas exploration began prior to the 2nd World War and intensified in late 70s to late 90s. A new turn was taken after 2015, as the collection of some new data was completed, prompting the proposal of new ideas.  International oil companies (e.g. TOTAL, ExxonMobil, Repsol, Edison), proceeded in several ventures in Greece and ELPE Upstream became an attractive partner.

Greece’s west, both onshore and offshore, seems to share many similarities with well-established Albanian and Italian hydrocarbon areas. In addition, following recent discoveries in our broader region, blocks around Crete were carved out. Total, Exxon and Hellenic Petroleum will be exploring their deep waters.

Greece is still considered an under-explored area despite the fact that more than 70,000 km of 2D and 2,000 km2 of 3D seismic lines have been acquired in addition to about 100 wells that have been drilled. However, recent technological developments enable feasible exploration of deeper waters, assuming the prospects are promising.

Greece, apart from being a hydrocarbons-promising area, is also strategically located in the middle of Mediterranean. The country is situated at the crossroads for transporting gas, from the current or future producing fields in the Caspian and the Eastern Mediterranean, to Western Europe. IGB (Gas Interconnector to link Greece with Bulgaria), Poseidon, TAP and East-Med are at different stages of development, They will link Greece and Europe’s west with all producing regions in proximity and provide potential leverage for potential developments in the regions of western Greece and Crete.

Oil and gas remains a key element of the energy mix, though the discussion on climate change continues and renewable energy solution costs have been declining. Natural gas is the transitional fuel, as we move away from coal and trend towards renewables. Electric vehicles are penetrating selected markets but not yet on a large scale, globally. Oil remains the main fuel for all other modes of transportation and petrochemicals have no real alternatives in the foreseeable future.

Prinos rescue plan may offer Greek State stake in Energean Oil & Gas SA

A government rescue plan for Prinos, Greece’s only producing oil field, in the country’s offshore north, will offer the Greek State a small stake in Energean Oil & Gas, the field’s operator, and provide state guarantees for 75 million euros in financing needed by the company in 2020 and 2021 for investments included in its business plan, according to well informed sources.

The government is believed to be just days away from announcing its finalized rescue plan for Energean’s Prinos field, hit hard by the pandemic and lower international oil prices, factors that have impacted the global upstream industry.

Greek government officials are currently discussing the Prinos rescue plan with the European Commission, whose approval will be required. Though alterations to the aforementioned solution cannot be ruled out, good news on the rescue plan appears imminent.

Energean Oil & Gas recently published a business plan that lists interventions needed for Prinos’ rescue as well as the field’s sustainability over the next 15 years. The plan’s measures include actions to reduce emissions and drastically reduce the company’s environmental footprint.

Energean has invested approximately 460 million euros at Prinos during the company’s 13 years of operations at the field, including 50 million euros between last September and May, to avoid the closure of offshore and related onshore facilities. Some 270 jobs have been protected.

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.

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.” 

Crete offshore surveys by Total-led team late this year, early ’21

Intensified, follow-up seismic surveys by a Total-led consortium at two offshore licenses south and west of Crete will go ahead as scheduled late this year or early in 2021, sources have informed.

The exact commencement date will be determined by the availability of specialized research vessels and weather conditions. For now, preparations are progressing as planned.

France’s Total heads a three-member consortium for the two blocks off Crete, partnered by US giant ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE).

Low shipping traffic in the region will enable hydrocarbon exploration work as late as the spring season of 2021 if next winter’s weather conditions prove unsuitable.

Initial survey work at the Cretan blocks have produced encouraging results, especially at an offshore area given the name Talos, which has displayed similar geological traits to Egypt’s offshore Zohr gas field.

The results of preliminary research conducted by ELPE in 2015 convinced Total and ExxonMobil to form a partnership with the Greek player.

 

ELPE, well placed with marine fuels, also eyeing gas, renewable energy

Strategic decisions made by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) back in 2006 for an upgrade of the enterprise’s refinery in Elefsina, west of Athens, enabling production of the entire range of fuels, including new-era marine fuel, has provided flexibility for robust financial results.

Most refineries in the wider Mediterranean region are currently pressured by significantly narrowed profit margins. ELPE is an exception. Its ability to produce new low-suphur marine fuels has secured a strategic advantage over competitors.

Further investments currently being made in the company’s refinery division are expected to boost profit figures from levels of 700 to 800 million euros to one billion euros.

As part of its transformation for the future, ELPE is also striving for swifter growth in the renewable energy market. It aims to reach an operating RES capacity of 600 MW over the next two years. ELPE intends to participate in the next RES auction with facilities measuring 460 MW.

In the gas market, ELPE is closely following the forthcoming privatization of gas utility DEPA. The petroleum group, holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA, will either seek to acquire a full stake or sell its minority stake. The company wants a clear-cut solution.

Elsewhere, ELPE has already decided to sell its stake in distribution networks, promising a major cash influx.

In electricity, a final investment decision on the development of a new gas-fueled power station is expected by summer. This decision will greatly depend on the progress of the target model, as well as the government’s commitment to its decarbonization policy.

As for its hydrocarbon interests, ELPE plans to stage a first drilling operation at the Gulf of Patras block by the end of 2020. Seismic surveys at other blocks in its hydrocarbon porfolio are currently being conducted.

 

Gas deposits south of Crete may reach 280 bcm, early data suggests

Offshore block licenses south of Crete held by a consortium comprising Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) could contain natural gas deposits measuring 280 billion cubic meters (10 trillion cubic feet), regional seismic data indicates.

If this amount is confirmed, the deposit south of Crete will be equivalent, in terms of quantity, to that of Israel’s Tamar field or double the Aphrodite field within Cyprus’ EEZ.

The area south of Crete shares similar geological traits to Egypt’s Zohr field, a major regional discovery along with Cyprus’ Aphrodite and Israel’s Leviathan, the data gas shown.

PGS has reprocessed seismic data that was collected through surveys conducted south of Crete as well as in the Ionian Sea, on Greece’s west side, between 2012 and 2013.

Drilling operations still need to be conducted and additional seismic data gathered before any definite conclusions are reached. The overall procedure will require about eight years to complete.

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.