Helleniq Energy set for 3D surveys at licenses in west

Helleniq Energy, previously named Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), is expected to begin conducting 3D seismic surveys at two offshore licenses, Ionio, in the Ionian Sea, and block 10 in the Gulf of Kyparissia, west of Peloponnese, within the next few days.

A Navtex for both endeavors has already been issued. PGS, commissioned to conduct the seismic surveys, will use its Ramform Hyperion seismic vessel. It will roll out twelve cables covering 8-km distances to scan sea beds for possible natural gas deposits.

The Ramform Hyperion seismic vessel appears to have completed work at the Ionian Sea’s block 2, adjacent to Italian territory in the Adriatic Sea, on behalf of a consortium comprising Energean and Helleniq Energy.

The vessel collected data from an area covering 2,000 square kilometers. Survey work at block 2 commenced in late October.

According to a Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Sources Management Company (HEREMA) schedule, blocks 2 and 10 are expected to be ready for drilling by early 2024. Helleniq Energy conducted 2D surveys at both blocks last February.

 

 

 

Energean moving ahead with wider exploration and development plan

Energean is moving ahead with its exploration and development program both in Israel and in other Mediterranean markets following the commencement of production at its Karish field, offshore Israel, and positive results from the neighboring “Zeus” and “Hermes” wells.

Energean has reported significant developments regarding the installation of a second processing line at its Karish North field, which promises to upgrade production to 8 billion cubic meters and 32,000 barrels of oil in total. The upgrades are expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

Along with its first-half results, the company has noted its next step is first gas production from the NEA/NI license in Egypt. Subsea installations have been completed and gas production is expected to commence by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Energean plans to conduct four more drilling efforts at its Abu Qir licence, also in Egypt, in 2023 and 2024.

As for its offshore Cassiopea license in Italy’s Strait of Sicily, Energean plans to begin gas production in the first half of 2024 with an objective to boost its production in Italy from 9,300 bpd at present to 20,000 bpd.

Energean has made two important discoveries at its Athena and Zeus offshore Israel licenses, both west of Karish. The Athena field has been certified, by an independent appraiser, as having potential reserves (2C) of 11.75 bcm of natural gas, while, two weeks ago, an initial estimate of 13.3 bcm of natural gas was made for the Zeus field.

Energean has also made a third discovery further south, at Block 31 (Hermes deposit), estimated to be holding between 7 and 15 billion cubic meters. Drilling at the Hercules well, in the same area, has been in progress over the past few weeks.

Energean has announced it will have a report, from an independent appraiser, on the potential of new discoveries in early 2023, the company’s aim being to present a specific development plan in the first half of the year.

Options being considered for additional volumes include the sale of additional gas to the Israeli market, exports to Egypt, as well as exports to Cyprus with the prospect of liquefaction for sales of quantities to European markets.

Energean has already signed contracts for the supply of 7.2 billion cubic meters of gas to Israel. Significant quantities are expected to start reaching customers in 2023.

Helleniq Energy set for 3D surveys off Greece’s west

Helleniq Energy is preparing to conduct 3D seismic surveys at two licenses, block 10 in the Gulf of Kyparissia, west of the Peloponnese, and the “Ionio” block in the Ionian Sea, within the next few weeks, chief executive Andreas Siamisiis has told analysts during a presentation of the group’s financial results for the nine-month period.

Helleniq Energy, which recently underwent a name change from ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), had previously conducted 2D surveys at these two blocks last February. Its decision to take a step further with 3D surveys at the two licenses suggests a clearer picture of promising targets already identified is needed.

The energy group’s decision to move ahead with its hydroexploration plans reflects the overall determination of the government, HEREMA, the Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Company, and investors to press ahead with exploration programs to identify potential targets with natural gas reserves.

Elsewhere, Energean is pushing ahead with its survey work at block 2 in the Ionian Sea, adjacent to Italian territory in the Adriatic Sea.

In addition, an ExxonMobil-led consortium involving Helleniq Energy as a junior partner is moving rapidly with survey work at two offshore block licenses west and southwest of Crete.

 

Offshore Crete seismic surveys pave way for drilling in 2025-26

A consortium headed by ExxonMobil plans to begin conducting seismic surveys at licenses south and southwest of Crete this winter, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced yesterday, confirming previous energypress reports.

The timing of the prospective surveys is in line with a schedule announced earlier this year by HEREMA, the Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Company, which envisaged surveys for the winter of 2022-2023.

The seismic surveys are expected to be followed by higher-definition 3D surveys in 2024. If all goes according to plan, initial drilling at the offshore Cretan blocks could take place in 2025 and 2026, which, if successful, would result in development of hydrocarbon deposits in 2027, leading to production in 2029.

ExxonMobil increased its stake in a consortium holding licenses for two offshore Cretan blocks following a recent decision by France’s TotalEnergies to withdraw from the venture. ExxonMobil acquired TotalEnergies’ share to now hold a 70 percent share in the consortium as the venture’s operator. Helleniq Energy, formerly named ELPE, is the venture’s junior partner.

Older seismic surveys conducted in 2015 by Norway’s PGS for Helleniq Energy – operating, at the time, as ELPE – at the two offshore Cretan blocks south and southwest of the island showed promising signs of a major natural gas deposit.

 

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.

 

 

ExxonMobil-Helleniq Energy seismic surveys off Crete

US oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil has been conducting seismic surveys under complete secrecy and at a rapid pace over the past week or so at two offshore block licenses, west and southwest of Crete, held with Helleniq Energy, formerly named ELPE, as its junior partner.

The two blocks share similar geological traits with Egypt’s giant offshore Zohr gas field and, according to early estimates, may contain rich natural gas quantities.

American presence is being assured, through ExxonMobil, in the southeast Mediterranean region at a particularly critical geopolitical period, both because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Turkey’s provocative moves against Greece (aggressive rhetoric and the Libya pact), political analysts told energypress.

ExxonMobil acted swiftly to increase its stake in a consortium holding licenses for the two offshore Cretan blocks following a recent  decision by France’s TotalEnergies to withdraw. ExxonMobil acquired TotalEnergies’ share to now hold a 70 percent share in the consortium as the venture’s operator.

The ExxonMobil-led seismic surveys off Crete, which began on October 24, are being conducted by Norway’s PGS and the company’s Sanco Swift seismic vessel. It is conducting 3D surveys, meaning ExxonMobil is focusing on specific areas for possible natural gas deposits.

Crete’s Hydrocarbon Potential to be Unveiled by the End of 2023⏐Upstream Development Programme in Full Swing⏐HEREMA’s Role in the Advancement of Offshore Windfarms

Greece’s upstream exploration programme offshore Crete is proceeding without delays, with a first assessment of the two concessions’ natural gas potential expected by the end of 2023. This was the message delivered by the CEO of the Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Company (HEREMA), Aris Stefatos, during a press conference held alongside the company’s Chairman Rikard Scoufias. 

Following the withdrawal of TotalEnergies earlier this year from the blocks dubbed “West of Crete” and “Southwest of Crete”, U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil significantly upped its stake in both concessions, raising this from 40% to 70% for E&P activities, while also assuming the operatorship. Likewise, Greece-based Hellenic Petroleum increased its participation in both areas from 20% to 30%.

ExxonMobil has prepared an upgraded work programme for the first phase of upstream exploration activities – anticipating faster and higher quality results – with delivery expected within a 2-year period instead of the 3 years companies have at their disposal for said exploration stage.

According to Stefatos, any delays in the Cretan concessions can be attributed to the fact that the previous operator did not complete the minimum work programme within the stipulated three-year term. He added that HEREMA’s exploration program is well underway, in accordance with the company’s underlying strategy “Hydrocarbons 2.0”, underpinned by three pillars:

  • Accelerating the development of Greece’s upstream sector with a particular focus on natural gas.
  • Expanding the scope of HEREMA to new energy technologies that can support Greece’s country’s energy transition.
  • Strengthening governance and ensuring HEREMA has the capacity and resources to meet all aspects of its mandate.

Regarding the first pillar, in February 2022 the leadership of HEREMA launched an ambitious investor outreach programme targeting energy majors.  The company’s management noted that the results so far have being particularly encouraging.

Discussions are ongoing with companies that have expressed an interest in entering the Greek upstream sector, with priority being placed on concessions where there is a single investor. While Mr. Stefatos confirmed that another licensing round is not off the table, he stressed the importance of drawing in investors to pre-existing concessions.

HEREMA is also set to play a key role in the development of offshore wind parks in Greek seas, in accordance with its legally expanded work scope, leveraging upon the company’s wealth of expertise in offshore operations. It’s important to underline that offshore oil and gas installations boast strong similarities to the platforms used in offshore wind installations. To this end, the company is being strengthened with specialized technical personnel and the relevant logistical infrastructure to enable it to deliver upon its expanded remit.

HEREMA has been carrying out one-to-one discussions with interested parties, including potential domestic and foreign investors, in an effort to understand their concerns and priorities – deemed key for the development of Greece’s newly-established offshore wind sector. Last but not least, HEREMA recently inked a memorandum of cooperation with the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) focused on technical and environmental synergies.

Within the scope of new energy technologies, HEREMA’s expanded work scope additionally includes the licensing of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and underground gas storage (UGS) projects in Greece. Such projects could focus on the storage of natural gas and hydrogen in the future.  

Imminent key challenges 

While assessing key challenges moving forward, HEREMA’s Board of Directors underlined the importance of maintaining the momentum built during the last 12 months, while ensuring the company is provided with the necessary administrative and financial resources. Strengthening HEREMA’s capacity and resources is a primary challenge and will become even more critical as the company assumes its broader remit including natural gas storage, CO2 and greenhouse gas management, and supporting the offshore wind sector. It is noted that draft legislation for the modernization of HEREMA has been ready for adoption since January 2021 and will contribute to the creation of a more modern and efficient administrative framework.

More specifically, the board concludes “This is an important factor in maintaining investor confidence, but most importantly it serves to build an organisation with the staff, resources, and expertise required to manage a Greek “Hydrocarbons 2.0” programme that should only be initiated once the financial and human resources are in place to monitor and enforce the strictest standards for environmental protection and socio-economic impact management.” 

Ukraine war adds to complexity of Greek-Albanian EEZ dispute in Ionian

An unresolved exclusive economic zone dispute between Greece and Albania over territorial rights in the Ionian Sea has become even more complicated as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, a conflict that has turned the Ionian and Adriatic sea areas into a hotbed of confrontation between NATO and Russia.

According to a recent report published by Italian daily La Reppublica, numerous incidents, both minor and more intense, have taken place in the Adriatic and Ionian seas between the escorting forces of the US 6th Fleet aircraft carrier Harry Truman and Russian warships. At least one of these incidents took place off Corfu, military sources have informed.

The naval incidents in the region are a result of its increased strategic importance for NATO with regards to the war in Ukraine as well as military preparations for any possible spread of the conflict beyond Ukraine.

Greece and Albania, following an agreement between the two countries, have begun procedures to take their Ionian Sea EEZ dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The consequences of the Ukraine war add to the issue’s complexity.

Energean and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), both holders of licenses in the Ionian Sea, are working to explore the region’s hydrocarbon prospects.

EDEY powers expanded, company entitled to offshore wind farm earnings

The powers of EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, have been expanded to cover a range of areas following a legislative revision made by the government.

EDEY has authority over matters such as management, control and monitoring of all relevant contracts that have been established in the past by the Greek State on behalf of third parties; exploration and evaluation of the country’s hydrocarbon potential, as well as assignment planning and supervision of exploration and evaluation of project potential.

EDEY also oversees applications for participation in tenders, in accordance with relevant provisions of existing law.

The company’s equity capital has been set at one million euros, paid by the Greek State in three equal installments, annually.

In addition, earnings resulting from the management of the Greek State’s rights and responsibilities regarding the development and operation of offshore wind farms will be regarded as income for the company.

 

Shell gas prospects in Albania promising for Ioannina license

Albania’s prospects of significant oil and gas discoveries that could boost the country’s future and also play a big role in Europe’s energy future, as announced by Prime Minister Edi Rama, could spell good news for a nearby Greek license in the country’s northwestern Epirus region.

Dutch energy giant Shell, a company that likes to keep its cards close to its chest, is preparing for drilling activities at Albania’s Shpirag 5 license, following successful exploration at Shpirag 4, which has delivered production totaling many thousands of barrels per day.

Shell Upstream Albania, Shell’s Albanian subsidiary, has been active in the neighboring country since 2018, pledging to invest more than 40 million euros over a seven-year period.

As for the Epirus license, in Greece’s wider Ioannina area, a consortium comprising Repsol and Energean has invested over 40 million euros, primarily for a seismic survey conducted in 2018 and 2019, a procedure through which an area to be further explored has been identified.

 

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.