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.