DEPA cancels 2 LNG orders submitted to TotalEnergies

A sharp reduction in domestic natural gas consumption has prompted gas utility DEPA to cancel two LNG orders submitted to TotalEnergies a few months ago as part of the country’s overall effort to bolster energy security ahead of this winter period, energypress sources have informed.

The cancellation will not come without repercussions as DEPA, based on the agreement’s terms, will be required to pay TotalEnergies compensation of approximately 10 million euros for each cancelled order. This sum may be covered by the Energy Transition Fund, as foreseen by law.

DEPA’s cancellations concern two LNG orders submitted in September, each for 10 TWh quantities. These orders were secured at particularly competitive prices as other indices besides the TTF were also factored into the pricing formula to lower the price level. At the time, the TTF was as much as 90 euros per MWh higher than other platforms also used for such transactions in the European market.

The two DEPA orders were planned for delivery between November, 2022 and March, 2023 as cover in the event of a disruption of Russian gas supply to Greece. But the orders have ended up proving excessive given the prevailing conditions.

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.

 

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.

DEPA’s TotalEnergies LNG deal a break away from Russia, TTF

A gas supply agreement reached between DEPA Commercial and France’s TotalEnergies, securing, for the former, French LNG quantities totaling 10 TWh, nearly one-third of annual Russian gas supply, based on references prices not linked to the Dutch TTF hub, up to 90 euros per MWh more expensive than other hubs, paves the way for further agreements not connected to the TTF and Russian supply.

According to sources, DEPA Commercial is currently working on a strategic long-term LNG supply agreement with another major international player, once again using a pricing formula linked to a hub other than the TTF.

These moves are ensuring energy sufficiency for DEPA Commercial’s customers as well as the country, at competitive prices.

DEPA Commercial’s 10-TWh LNG agreement with TotalEnergies, which, according to sources, will result in supply from November until March next year, is equivalent to five months of Russian gas consumption in the Greek market.

The TotalEnergies amount should be enough to cover the country’s needs during this five-month period if Russia completely disrupts gas supply to Europe. In 2021, Greece’s gas imports from Russia totaled 35.37 TWh.

The Greek energy ministry’s leadership and DEPA Commercial officials are preparing for a trip to Azerbaijan, postponed three weeks ago, to seek an agreement for further gas quantities, at prices that are more competitive than the current Azerbaijani supply deal, DEPA Commercial’s most expensive.

 

 

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.” 

ExxonMobil, like Total, seems disinterested in Cretan blocks

American multinational oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil appears likely to follow the way of France’s TotalEnergies towards a possible withdrawal from two offshore blocks, west and southwest of Crete. The two companies each hold 40 percent stakes in these offshore licenses, Greece’s ELPE maintaining the other 20 percent.

Indications of a reduction in interest by the two corporations run contrary to  growing interest expressed by Greek officials for domestic exploration as a result of the EU’s decision to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas.

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, recently forwarded letters to these upstream companies, informing them of the Greek government’s intentions for a renewed, more ambitious hydrocarbon strategy.

EDEY officials declined to comment on the retreats by ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies but noted that a new round of talks for upstream investments is beginning. Other corporations are interested in Greece’s upstream sector, EDEY officials informed.

EDEY is determined to keep a tight schedule and secure seismic surveys at the two Cretan offshore areas this coming autumn and in spring, 2023.

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.