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.

Four hydrocarbon licenses taken to parliament, interest in new areas

The energy ministry has submitted to parliament four draft bills for the approval of as many offshore hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses near Crete and in the Ionian Sea.

The imminent approval of these agreements, negotiated between 2015 and 2019, will enhance Greece’s ability to attract foreign investments in the developing hydrocarbon sector, the ministry noted in a statement. The bills were delivered to parliament yesterday.

Exploration-related investments for the four licenses are expected to reach 140 million euros, create jobs and support local communities, according to the ministry’s statement. The recently elected government is striving to project Greece as a business and investment-friendly country.

Agreements for two offshore licenses southwest and west of Crete were signed in June between the Greek State and a consortium comprising Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE).

These were preceded by two agreements signed several months earlier, in April – one for an offshore block in the Ionian Sea, whose rights were acquired by a two-member consortium made up of Repsol and ELPE; the other, for a block west of the Peloponnese, secured by ELPE, the sole participant.

Investors are also believed to be interested in new areas for hydrocarbon exploration.

Ratification of Cretan, western offshore licenses just days away

Parliamentary approval of offshore hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses awarded for four fields west and southwest of Crete as well as Greece’s west is now just days away.

The submission of all four licenses to Greek Parliament by this Friday for ratification is seen as a very likely prospect.

The related draft bill carrying the four licenses will essentially represent the recently appointed energy ministry’s first legislative act.

A consortium comprised of Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has been awarded two licenses for blocks west and southwest of Crete. Repsol and ELPE were the winning bidders of a tender for a block in the Ionian Sea.

Tenders for these three licenses were held following interest expressed in 2017.

ELPE is the sole participant in a license awarded for Block 10 northwest of the Peloponnese, following a tender launched in 2014.

Scientific surveys have confirmed many geological similarities between the two Cretan offshore blocks and southeast Mediterranean natural gas fields that have produced major discoveries such as Egypt’s Zohr, Cyprus’ Aphrodite and Israel’s Leviathan.

A clearer picture on the prospects of the Greek fields is expected in  eight years, the amount of time it should take to complete related exploration work. A first drilling operation is expected towards the end of this eight-year effort.

The presence of ExxonMobil and Total signals heightened US and French hydrocarbon interest in the wider southeast Mediterranean region.

Industry experts believe ratification of the four Greek licenses will spark further upstream developments in the wider region, including Greece. Preparations are underway for more offshore licenses, especially south of Crete, according to some sources.

Ratification of hydrocarbon licenses within August

Four offshore hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses signed by three groups of investors for areas off Crete, in the Ionian Sea and west of the Peloponnese are expected to be ratified in Greek Parliament within the next few days, possibly before the end of August, energypress sources have informed.

These licenses are significant for the reputation of the recently elected conservative New Democracy party, keen to underline its willingness to cooperate in the energy sector and draw major investments to the country.

Oil majors are involved. France’s Total heads a consortium that includes US giant ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for the two licenses off Crete, south and southwest of the island.

ELPE has joined forces with Spain’s Repsol for a license in the Ionian Sea, while ELPE is the sole participant in the offshore license west of the Peloponnese.

Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis, in talks with US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon earlier this month, pledged the licenses would soon be ratified in parliament.

A swift ratification procedure by the new government would send out a positive message to international investors.

Greek-Cypriot-Israeli energy summit highlights US interest

Washington’s supportive interest in the energy partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel has grown, driven by the prospect of hydrocarbon exploration in the southeast Mediterranean region as well as the East Med natural gas pipeline, planned to carry Cypriot, Israeli and, possibly, Egyptian natural gas to the EU via Greece and Italy.

Highlighting this interest, an upcoming Athens energy summit, scheduled to take place on August 6 and 7, comes as a US initiative, energypress sources informed.

It will follow a meeting just days ago, at the East Med Gas Forum in Egypt, that brought together Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis with his Cypriot and Israeli peers, Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Yuval Steinitz, respectively. In addition, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently met with Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades.

US Assistant Secretary Francis Fannon, head of the Bureau of Energy Sources, will also take part in the Athens energy summit. Fannon is scheduled to meet with Hatzidakis, Greece’s energy minister, and the country’s deputy foreign minister Konstantinos Fragogiannis on the eve of the event.

The summit highlights the US-fostered partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, united against escalating Turkish tension concerning offshore hydrocarbon exploration plans within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The event’s participants are also expected to discuss the East Med pipeline. An agreement between the three countries and Italy remains pending. Last spring, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte claimed he sees no benefits for Italy in the project, effectively bringing the country’s effort in the matter to a standstill.

Washington openly supports this natural gas pipeline as it promises to establish an alternative supply route to Europe that would restrict Moscow’s energy dominance on the continent, through Gazprom.

Sideline efforts are being made to alter Italy’s negative stance, sources informed. A message could be projected to Rome through the imminent Athens event.

Energean up to 4th in European upstream with Edison E&P deal

Greece’s Energean Oil and Gas has risen to fourth place among Europe’s independent hydrocarbon exploration and production companies, in terms of proven reserves, following its acquisition of Edison’s E&P, a sale and purchase agreement announced yesterday.

Energean Oil and Gas, a London Premium Listed FTSE 250 and Tel Aviv Listed E&P company, will, as a result, possess 639 million barrels.

Israel’s Delek Drilling, with one billion barrels, and Norway’s Aker BP, with 917 million barrels, and Lundin, also Norwegian, with 745 million barrels, make up Europe’s top three.

Energean anticipates it will capture first place within the next two to three years, in terms of daily hydrocarbon production, expected to rise to 200,000 barrels, when an FPSO at Israel’s Karish and Tanin reserves begins operating.

The company’s Edison E&P acquisition – expected to be finalized by the end of 2019 as it is subject to conditions for transactions of this kind, including Italian Economic Development Ministry approval – stands to place Energean at the forefront of Greece’s upstream as the company will gain licenses in western Greece.

Energean will take over Edison’s stakes in two consortiums, the first with Total and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for Block 2 west of Corfu, and the second with ELPE for a license at the Gulf of Patras.

Energean also holds rights to a license in Etoloakarnania, western Greece, with Spain’s Repsol, the operator, as well as in the Ioannina region, in the northwest.

The Edison E&P acquisition will also broaden Energean’s portfolio, to possess 90 licenses in nine countries.

The agreement also adds 434 million dollars to Energean’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), up from 52 million dollars last year.


New EU warning for Turkey over Cyprus EEZ violations

The EU’s 28 are set to issue a new warning to Turkey today in response to the country’s illegal hydrocarbon exploration activities within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), diplomatic sources have informed.

EU governments are expected to vow to freeze negotiations over the modernization of the customs union between the bloc and Turkey, while reiterating that accession negotiations have come to a standstill.

The EU-28 will also signal that further escalation is possible, as the EU “stands ready to respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus,” if drilling activity continues.

The statement, due to be approved by the EU’s European affairs ministers today, is subject to ongoing deliberations between diplomats and the final wording may change.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday that he may demand EU sanctions against Turkey over drilling activities.

Ankara is disputing Nicosia’s EEZ rights as Cyprus prepares to drill at offshore gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has sent exploration vessels in the area, with Cyprus protesting a violation of its sovereignty.

Hydrocarbon licenses on hold as a result of snap elections

The country’s ambitious hydrocarbon exploration and production plan appears set to be impacted by further delays as a result of the government’s call for snap elections, now expected to take place on July 7.

License agreements signed recently for offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and west of the Peloponnese, will, as a result, not be pushed through for ratification in parliament until after the elections.

An Ionian Sea license has been acquired by a consortium comprising Repsol and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), while ELPE has also taken on Block 10, further south, west of the Peloponnese.

Licenses offered for blocks west and southwest of Crete to a consortium made up of Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE are also set to face delays as a result of the country’s political developments. The triple-member team will need to hold on for several more months before it can begin work at these promising spots. The consortium’s licences, still in the hands of a supervisory committee, have also yet to be ratified in parliament. No action on these is expected prior to the early general elections.

Procedures concerning the formation of a new government and the ensuing summer break will delay the ratification of these agreements until September, experts have estimated.

Investors looking forward to exploration work in the Ionian Sea and off Crete have become well acquainted with the slow-moving ways of Greece and are prepared to remain patient until this latest obstacle is cleared, pundits noted.

The country’s recent administrations have all moved slowly on hydrocarbon licensing matters.


EDEY to drum up Greek oil, gas hopes at Italy, Romania events

Spurred by recent significant gas field discoveries at Cypriot and Egyptian offshore blocks and the favorable prospects these have generated for the wider region, top officials at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, will be looking to attract major foreign investors to new Greek blocks at two industry events in Italy and Romania.

EDEY chairman Yiannis Basias, who is in Ravenna, Italy today to attend the Offshore Mediterranean Conference & Exhibition, a leading industry event, will be exploring the potential interest of oil majors, including Italy’s ENI, for new offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and off Crete to soon be licensed out.

EDEY chief’s deputy Spyros Bellas will follow up this effort in Bucharest at the Balkans & Black Sea Cooperation Forum, scheduled to take place April 4 and 5.

Tristan Aspray, ExxonMobil’s Vice President of Exploration for Europe, Russia, and the Caspian, hailed the wider region’s prospects at the recent Delphi Economic Forum in Greece. ExxonMobil is currently involved in exploration work being carried out in Romania.

Speaking earlier this month at London’s Global APPEX (Prospect & Property Expo), an event organized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), Bellas, EDEY’s deputy, presented a road map of Greece’s hydrocarbon plans for 2019 to officials of foreign companies as well as latest and more detailed geological data on the Ionian Sea and Cretan regions. This data was processed by Norway’s PGS.

The strategy adopted at EDEY is to plan tenders for offshore blocks based on the interest expressed by foreign investors at this series of meetings.

Besides ENI and ExxonMobil, EDEY is seeking to convince Repsol, Shell and other US majors of Greece’s hydrocarbon prospects.



Crete exploration license by May, minister assures ExxonMobil deputy

Exploration and production agreements for two offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete awarded a year-and-a-half ago to a consortium comprising ExxonMobil, Total and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum)  will be ratified in Greek parliament by May, the latest, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has assured a leading ExxonMobil official.

Tristan Aspray, ExxonMobil’s Vice President of Exploration for Europe, Russia, and the Caspian, has apparently accepted the minister’s commitment with satisfaction, but this remains unconfirmed.

The two officials met on the sidelines of the Delphi Economic Forum, a high-profile four-day event that ended yesterday.

Consortium officials have begun showing signs of frustration over the slow-moving licensing procedure for the two offshore Crete blocks.

In a carefully worded statement, the US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, who also attended the forum, noted he was eager to see the bureaucratic delays come to an end so that exploration work off Crete could commence.

The tender for the two offshore Crete blocks was launched in December, 2017. The ExxonMobil-Total-ELPE consortium submitted its bid in March, 2018 before it was endorsed four months later. If parliament ratifies the related licenses in May, the entire procedure will have taken 18 months to complete.

ELPE bidders given exemption right for ELPE Upstream costs

Potential buyers participating in a sale offering a controlling 50.1 percent stake in ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) will be given the option of being exempted from hydrocarbon exploration-related expenses concerning ELPE Upstream, a separate division holding ELPE’s hydrocarbon exploration and concession rights.

A 51 percent stake of ELPE Upstream will remain under the control of the state. Potential buyers will have the right to refuse to partake in ELPE Upstream’s investment activities, given the minority stake they will hold in this venture.

This cost exemption option appears to have satisfied potential buyers of ELPE’s 50.1 percent, preparing to submit binding bids, possibly within the first ten days of March. A deadline has yet to be set.

Head representatives, including Sonatrach boss Abdelmoumene Ould Kaddou, have spent time in Athens over the past couple of weeks for meetings with Greek state privatization fund TAIPED officials. No objections appear to have been raised.

Sonatrach recently entered the ELPE sale, joining Vitol as a partner. American firm Carlyle, the other new entry, has joined forces with Glencore for this sale.

All of ELPE’s current exploration and production licenses have been transferred to ELPE Upstream.

Ministry committee receives Crete hydrocarbons impact study

An environmental impact study concerning offshore hydrocarbon exploration activity planned for south and southwest of Crete has been forwarded to a special energy ministry committee by EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, following a related public consultation procedure.

This special committee is now in the process of assessing the study before delivering its findings to energy minister Giorgos Stathakis for authorization. Once signed by the minister, the environmental study, along with licensing agreements drafted for offshore plots in the aforementioned regions, will be sent to a supervisory committee for a final legality check before heading to parliament as a draft bill for ratification.

Speaking at the Athens Energy Forum yesterday, Stathakis, the energy minister, estimated that licenses offered for Crete, as well as the Ionian Sea, would be submitted to parliament in approximately two months.

A consortium comprising Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) has been awarded licenses around Crete, while Repsol and ELPE have secured a license for an Ionian Sea block.

Both investment teams are hoping for a swift completion of bureaucratic procedures to commence their exploratory work as soon as possible.

Major China petrochemicals event in March, registration starts

Visitor online registrations have commenced for the 19th China International Petroleum & Petrochemical Technology and Equipment Exhibition, a world-leading trade fair for petroleum and petrochemical, scheduled to take place March 27-29, 2019 at the New China International Exhibition Center in Beijing.

To feature 1,800 exhibitors, including 46 enterprises from the Fortune Global 500, the event promises insight on subjects such as oil, gas, pipeline, petrochemical, shale gas, offshore engineering technology as well as explosion-proof systems.

Participants will also have the opportunity to network with 117,000 professional visitors from over 65 countries and regions, communicate with 18 international pavilions, and hear from industry experts at the summit and forum program.

For more information, visit the event’s official website, or email

EDEY presenting five new fields in search for more investors

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is seeking to draw an increased level of attention from petroleum firms for natural gas and oil exploration through five new offshore blocks, located in the Ionian Sea, off Crete and south of the Peloponnese.

The five blocks, ranging from 8,000 to 22,000 square kilometres in size, were presented yesterday by EDEY chairman Yiannis Basias at a workshop organized by IENE, the Institute of Energy for Southeast Europe.

EDEY has reprocessed related seismic survey data concerning these five blocks and plans to present findings at international conferences and meetings with the objective of generating the interest of oil majors.

The Greek hydrocarbon company’s latest initiative comes at a time of elevated activity among southeast Mediterranean, Black Sea and Adriatic countries, all staging tenders for blocks or conducting surveys and drills.

Global oil industry players have turned their attention to the wider region. Total, ExxonMobil, Repsol and Edison have already established a presence on Greek territory. EDEY is hoping to add to the list.

Energean shares begin trading on Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

The shares of independent oil and gas exploration and production company Energean Oil and Gas have begun trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) secondary list, the group has announced in a statement.

Energean is the first London-listed, international oil and gas operator to list shares on the Tel Aviv bourse, following the largest E&P IPO in London since 2014.

Delivery of Energean’s highly attractive, flagship Karish and Tanin gas development, offshore Israel, remains on track for first gas in 1Q 2021 providing energy security and supplying gas to the Israeli domestic market.

Energean is currently at the start of an active 18-month period including first steel cut for Energean’s FPSO, the only FPSO in the East Mediterranean, scheduled for 26 November 2018, and drilling of the high potential Karish North well to commence in March 2019, with the potential to de-risk up to 1.8 TCF of resources across Karish North and Karish East.

In addition, during this 18-month period, Energean will continue to de-risk its wider Israeli portfolio which has 7.5 Tcf of gross prospective resources across the Karish and Tanin leases and Blocks (12, 21, 22, 23 and 31) and pursue future gas sales contracts, to target both the growing Israeli domestic market and key export markets in the region, with a view to delivering value to all stakeholders. Energean is also focusing on an ongoing investment and development program to increase production from its Prinos and Prinos North oil fields and to develop the Epsilon oil field, located in the Gulf of Kavala, northern Greece.

Energean has also reported a significant further upside from its diverse eastern Mediterranean portfolio including exploration and appraisal opportunities in Israel, Greece and Montenegro.

Mathios Rigas, Chief Executive, Energean Oil & Gas commented:

“There is strong momentum at Energean as we prepare to begin our active Israeli work program to deliver our flagship Israel gas project which will not only deliver significant shareholder value but provide competition and energy security to the Israeli domestic market. Alongside this in Greece we continue to focus on growing our low cost production.

“As such, we are delighted to be the first UK listed international oil and gas operator to list its shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, fulfilling our commitment that we made to shareholders at the time of our IPO, improving the breadth and depth of the Company shareholder base.

“Israel is a core component of our portfolio and we are on track to start producing gas from the only FPSO in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1Q 2021 providing competition and energy security to the Israeli domestic market, so it is only natural that we expand the accessibility of our company to the Israeli market.”

Mr. Yuval Steinitz, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, who attended the opening ceremony, remarked:

“Having Energean in the Israeli Stock Exchange is an important development. It is a positive message to the stock market, but mostly a positive message to the developing energy market of the country, a message that shows that Israel is emerging as a player in the global energy market”.

On track for first gas in 1Q 2021

Energean’s secondary listing precedes an operationally active 2019 as it continues to progress its flagship gas development on track for 1Q 2021 and the wider Israeli portfolio which has 7.5 Tcf* of gross prospective resources across the Karish and Tanin leases and Blocks (12, 21, 22, 23 and 31) that were awarded as part of the recent offshore licencing round.

Energean will kick off its 2019 campaign with the drilling of the high potential Karish North well in March which has the potential to de-risk more than 1.8 Tcf** of resources across Karish North and Karish East and is in line with the company’s strategy to target near field prospects where potential discoveries can be quickly, economically and safely monetised through its offshore FPSO.

Following Karish North, the Stena DrillMAX will drill three development wells into the Karish Main structure. These three wells will be the producers that deliver 4.2 bcma of gas sales into the Israeli domestic market from 1Q 2021.

Energean is building its FPSO with a production and processing capacity of 8 bcma and first steel cut is planned for 26 November 2018. Current gas sales contracts, which account for all of its existing discovered resource, underpin the 4.2 bcma of firm contracts signed to date, leaving 3.8 bcma of spare capacity for the tie-back of additional discoveries.

Future gas sales contracts will target both the growing Israeli domestic market and key export markets in the region, with a view to delivering value to all stakeholders.

Energean has a strong environmental track record and working successfully with local communities, The company has over 37 years’ experience of working safely in environmentally sensitive locations in NE Greece and is focused on transferring this safety and success to all areas where it is present. As the first operator of a FPSO in the eastern Mediterranean, Energean is committed to the safe production of hydrocarbons in Israel as well as being focused on leaving as little environmental footprint as possible.



Energean bolsters senior management with new Chief Operating Officer

Energean Oil & Gas has appointed Iman Hill, a seasoned petroleum engineer with over 30 years’ global experience in the oil and gas industry, as Chief Operating Officer, effective 1 November, the company has announced in a statement.

Hill is backed by extensive expertise in the technical and commercial aspects of the petroleum business, especially development and production projects.

Prior to joining Energean, Iman was the Technical Director, GM UAE and President Egypt for Dana Gas PJSC, responsible for managing global operations.

Hill began her career with BP in 1984 and worked in a variety of technical positions before becoming a Senior Reservoir Engineer. In 1997 she joined Shell International, where she held positions such as Senior Regional Adviser Africa to the E&P CEO and the Chairman of Shell, E&P Business Interface Manager, Middle East and GM Shell Egypt and Chairwoman of Shell Companies in Egypt. From 2005 to 2011 Iman worked at BG Group in roles such as Senior Vice President for Developments and Operations responsible for maturing developments to sanction, well engineering and operations.

Iman previously held Non-Executive Directorships at Outokumpu and EMGS.

Commenting on the appointment, Mathios Rigas, CEO at Energean Oil & Gas, noted: “Iman is a highly experienced oil and gas professional with a proven track record and we are delighted to welcome her to the team. She brings a wealth of operational and technical expertise and we look forward to working closely with Iman across all of our global operations as we continue to grow production, profitability and deliver shareholder value.”

Energean is a London Premium Listed independent E&P company with 13 licenses across offshore Israel, Greece and the Adriatic. Energean has 349 mmboe of 2P reserves and 48 mmboe of 2C resources across its portfolio. 

In August 2017, the company received Israeli Governmental approval for the FDP for its flagship Karish-Tanin gas development project, where it intends to use an FPSO and produce first gas for the Israeli market in 2021.

In Greece, the company is pursuing an ongoing investment and development program to increase production from its Prinos and Prinos North oil fields and to develop the Epsilon oil field, located in the Gulf of Kavala, Northern Greece.

Energean has five exploration licences offshore Israel, and a 25 year exploitation licence for the Katakolo offshore block in Western Greece and additional exploration potential in its other licences offshore Western Greece, and Montenegro.



Repsol forced to up budget for Ioannina license seismic survey work

Spanish energy company Repsol, the operator of a 60 percent stake in an onshore block in the Ioannina area, northwestern Greece, farmed out by Energean Oil & Gas, has been forced to revise upwards the project’s budget as a result of increased costs concerning 2D seismic survey work, made more challenging by the region’s landscape features.

Repsol, which has also had to deal with bureaucratic delays, has resumed hydrocarbon exploration work at the Ioannina license following a summer break.

Project costs have risen significantly for Repsol as a result of the company’s need to use specialized equipment, including helicopters, to minimalize the effort’s environmental impact and guarantee the safety of workers. Labor costs have also risen by the need for Repsol to employ more workers. They have ranged between 120 and 200 per day.

Greek energy ministry officials who are well informed on the effort believe further cost increases will be difficult to avoid, given the Ioannina project’s nature. Energean Oil & Gas has retained a 40 percent stake in the venture.

The seismic survey work being conducted in the Ioannina area represents the first such initiative taken in western Greece, onshore, over the past two decades. Lines totaling 400 km and covering seven municipalities are being explored.


ELPE Upstream seeking earlier start for Gulf of Patras drilling

ELPE Upstream, a new division established by the ELPE petroleum group, aims to begin drilling at its license in the Gulf of Patras, western Greece, sooner than originally planned, probably in autumn next year, if related licensing procedures and studies are completed ahead of municipal and regional elections next May.

Hydrocarbon exploration and production remains a priority for ELPE despite the petroleum group’s ongoing privatization, a complex and challenging procedure offering a 50.1 percent stake.

The Greek State, selling 20.5 percent of its 35.5 percent stake in ELPE, is expected to maintain a strong presence in ELPE Upstream. Paneuropean, ELPE’s main shareholder owning 45.47 percent, is selling 30.47 percent.

The Gulf of Patras offshore license, covering 1,900 square kilometers, was awarded to ELPE through an open-door tender launched in 2012 and completed in 2014. Potential recoverable hydrocarbon reserves at this license have been estimated at 100,000,000 barrels.

ELPE also has ambitious exploration and production plans for offshore licenses in the Ionian Sea and off Crete.


US drillship in Cyprus may reignite Greek-Turkish tension

US energy giant ExxonMobil plans to conduct its first offshore drilling venture at block 12 in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) within the next few weeks as part of its hydrocarbon exploration effort in the region, sparking fears of renewed Greek-Turkish tension. An ExxonMobil survey vessel is scheduled to arrive at the block on September 28.

Though Greek-Turkish tension has deescalated in recent times, the exploratory work planned by ExxonMobil, as well as France’s Total, in Cypriot waters, could spark new tension between the neighbors, pundits believe.

Regardless of the ongoing developments concerning Turkey’s economic crisis, the upcoming exploration work and possible hydrocarbon production in the Cypriot EEZ could change the Cypriot balance, which has prevented Cyprus from utilizing its natural wealth since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974. Turkey will most likely be prepared to use force to prevent Cyprus from utilizing this anticipated wealth.

Turkey has already sent a drillship and four support vessels to the Mediterranean to start the country’s first deep-sea drilling operations. There are concerns that tensions in the region could flare up if the Turkish vessel, Porthitis (Fatih), begins drilling off the coast of Cyprus, where Nicosia has already granted exploration licenses to foreign companies.

Turkey says it will prevent Cyprus from searching for gas and oil off its coast if Turkish Cypriots are not included in the process.

Tensions between Greece and Turkey reached breaking point in February after Turkish warships prevented a rig of Italian energy giant ENI from drilling in block 3 of Cyprus’s EEZ.

US officials have asked Ankara to keep away from ten areas and also urged for a Turkish commitment ensuring smooth proceedings in the exploratory work planned within the Cypriot EEZ.

“Naturally, in diplomacy, you name 10 areas so that the other side may back away from some of these,” one pundit told energypress.

Any normalization of Greek-Turkish relations will be temporary and restricted to this week’s repatriation of two Greek soldiers who were released from a Turkish prison following months of captivity, pundits have stressed. The normalization is not a long-term condition, they noted, citing the upcoming hydrocarbon exploration plans in Cyprus’s EEZ.




Repsol, Eni among investors interested in ELPE’s 50.1%

Repsol is seriously considering taking part in an international tender offering 50.1 percent of ELPE (Hellenic Petrolem), announced just days ago, energypress sources have informed.

The Spanish company, already active in Greece’s hydrocarbon exploration and production market, recently formed a partnership with ELPE to submit a joint bid for an offshore block in the Ionian Sea.

Repsol meets all the ELPE tender’s strict criteria – financial, technical and geopolitical – set by TAIPED, the state privatization fund, in association with the sellers, the Greek State and Paneuropean Oil, a member of the Latsis group.

The Spanish firm maintains a strong presence in the refining sector. Its investments in this domain have totalled some 4 billion euros over the past few years. Repsol operates six industrial refineries. In 2016, Repsol’s assets were worth a total of 39.2 billion euros while the enterprise posted a total turnover figure of 36.3 billion euros and an operating profit of over two billion euros.

In the exploration and production field, Repsol has certified deposits of 2.3 billion barrels and is producing 690,000 bpd. Its refining capacity exceeds one mllion bpd.

Another major European petroleum firm, Italy’s Eni, is also believed to be closely monitoring the ELPE tender.

According to the tender’s terms, investors must be able to prove they possess readily available investment amounts worth at least two billion euros.

TAIPED reserves the right to eliminate any interested investor if such a course of action is deemed necessary by the Greek State for protection of national interests, energy securtity and energy supply.

A May 18 deadline has been set for first-round offers. Interested parties have until May 9 to enquire about the international tender’s terms.




EDEY set to deliver opinion on Crete, Ionian hydrocarbon contracts

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, plans to forward, to the energy ministry, a study evaluating details of contracts for three hydrocarbon licenses in the Ionian Sea and off Crete between late April to early May, energypress sources have informed.

Early in March, two consortiums submitted bids for three blocks to international tenders. Total-ExxonMobil-ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) submitted offers for two blocks west and southwest of Crete. Repsol-ELPE made an offer for the Ionian Sea block.

The EDEY study is focused on technical, legal and financial aspects of the contracts prepared. It is a mandatory step before the participants may be declared prefered bidders.

Once the green light is given, the Greek State will be able to commence licensing negotiations with the consortiums. The aim is to finalize procedures within the next few months, which will clear the way for investments and exploration work.

Both the Greek government and local hydrocarbon sector are placing great emphasis on this specific effort as the interest expressed by ExonMobil, Total and Repsol has raised hopes of potential hydrocarbon discoveries.

ELPE sale deal struck, state boosts its hydrocarbon interests

The Greek State, represented by the government, and Paneuropean Oil, a member of the Latsis corporate group, co-shareholders of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), have reached a deal to sell at least 50.1 percent of ELPE through an international tender, ELPE has announced in a statement.

The Greek State currently holds a 35.5 percent stake of ELPE and Paneuropean Oil controls a 45.47 percent stake.

TAIPED, the state privatization fund controlling the Greek State’s 35.5 percent share, will offer a stake of at least 20 percent, while Paneuropean Oil will provide the other 30.1 percent, as an absolute minimum, the ELPE statement noted, adding that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed.

The agreement’s text details the future management roles of the two shareholders at ELPE, veto rights, the dividend policy, disinvestments and strategy.

However, ELPE’s hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation interests appear to have been handled separately, giving the Greek State a reinforced role regarding its rights in this division, seen as one of national security, as it has to do with control of hydrocarbon deposits and geopolitical issues.

The Greek State’s stronghold of ELPE’s hydrocarbon interests, including increased future revenues from this domain, will be factored in by prospective buyers and, quite obviously, promises to lower the eventual sale price.

Sources noted that the international tender could be announced this month as a swift follow-up to the agreement between the Greek State and Paneuropean Oil.

ELPE’s share price stood at 7.8 euros at the close of yesterday’s session, giving the firm an equity-based value of 2.38 billion euros. This means that a 50 percent share of ELPE would be worth 1.19 billion euros, based on the current share price. This figure, however, is not a true reflection of ELPE’s value as the sale will also include the enterprise’s management rights, which will provide a premium.