Crete hydrocarbon hopes lifted by initial seismic survey results

Initial findings of ongoing seismic surveys conducted at licenses off Crete have raised hopes of significant hydrocarbon discoveries, government officials have told an event staged by EDEYEP, the Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Company.

If the upbeat prospects generated by emerging data are confirmed during drilling, then quantities to be extracted off Crete will cover Europe’s projected energy insufficiencies, government officials contended on the sidelines of the EDEYEP event, staged last night to mark its transition from EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

A recent report released by IEA, the International Energy Agency, notes Europe will face annual energy shortages of 30 billion cubic meters for ten years, even if renewables, biogas and hydrogen are brought in to replace Russian natural gas quantities.

Norwegian company PGS is currently conducting 2D surveys at offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete on behalf of ExxonMobil and Helleniq Energy, formerly ELPE.

Local authorities expect drilling at these licenses to commence in early 2025.

Domestic upstream activity has increased, EDEYEP president Rikard Skoufias told the company event, noting seven seismic surveys have been staged in Greece over an eight-month period compared to just two over the past decade.

 

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.

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.

Energean begins 3D seismic survey work at Montenegro licenses

Energean Oil & Gas, Greece’s sole oil producer, has begun 3D seismic survey work at its offshore exploration and production licenses in Montenegro in search of additional hydrocarbon deposits.

Norway’s PGS has been commissioned for the task, whose results are expected in the third quarter of this year. The PGS survey work on behalf of Energean Oil & Gas is expected to be completed within February.

A PGS seismic ship, Ramform Titan, entered Montenegro’s offshore area on Wednesday and anchored about one mile from the coast, near Bar, the country’s main sea port. Its 3D seismic survey work plans to scan offshore areas between Bar and the Montenegrin town Budva.

Energean Oil & Gas took part in a tender in 2014 and acquired licenses measuring a total of 338 square kilometers in two Montenegro offshore areas. The company went on to sign exploration and production licenses for these plots in March, 2017.

Both areas are believed to be promising. An independent industry firm believes they could contain 1.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 144 million barrels of oil.

Montenegro’s plots have drawn major international players. A consortium made up of ENI and Novatek recently completed seismic surveys at four offshore blocks adjacent to those held by Energean Oil & Gas.

Initial PGS seismic survey reprocessing results anticipated within September

A reprocessing initiative taken by EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, for older seismic survey data collected by Norway’s PGS in the Ionian Sea and off Crete, covering a total of 12,500 square kilometers, is expected to produce its first results this month, the hydrocarbon company has announced.

EDEY has signed a data reprocessing agreement with PGS, which will strive to complete the project by June, 2018. Once obtained, the reprocessed data should enable the Greek State to provide more detailed information to prospective hydrocarbon investors and, ultimately, increase the likelihood of successful exploration ventures by oil companies.

More sophisticated equipment, offering clearer pictures of existing data and the aforementioned submarine areas, is being applied in the reprocessing effort.

In addition, EDEY is now conducting preliminary work for 3D seismic surveys covering 2,000 square kilometers in the northern part of the Ionian Sea, southwest of Corfu, while densification of existing 2D data is planned for areas south of Crete and south of the Peloponnese, covering a total of 4,000 square kilometers.

New seismic surveys planned for launch in December

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, plans to stage new seismic surveys later this year at an area covering 46,000 square meters south of Crete. This offshore area had been scanned in 2013 by PGS from north to south but will now be looked at from east to west.

The hydrocarbon company is also moving to conduct more detailed surveys in areas west of Crete and south of the Peloponnese covering 11,000 square meters, while PGS will apply new techniques to soon reprocess older data gathered from the Ionian Sea in an area covering 26,000 square meters.

The news concerning these three initiatives, highlighting EDEY’s intention to intensify local hydrocarbon sector efforts, is expected to be announced today in specialized international industry media to promote the prospect of new sesismic data sale purchases by international oil companies.

Seismic package preorders could cover the cost of the new PGS services to be offered to EDEY and, depending on the level of investor interest, could also generate revenues for the Greek hydrocarbon company.

If all goes well, a PGS vessel will conduct its survey work over a two-month period in December and January, considered ideal as demand for seismic survey work at this time of the year is low, especially in areas west of Africa, meaning the PGS services should be provided at a lower cost.

Besides the new seismic survey work, proceedings are already underway for a new tender to offer licenses south of Crete as a result of interest expressed by a consortium comprised of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), US giant ExxonMobil and France’s Total.

According to sources, the related text for the international tender’s announcement has already been delivered to the European Commission for publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.