Rescue talks for Prinos, Greece’s only producing field, making progress

Talks between Energean Oil & Gas and officials at the energy and economy ministries for a solution to rescue offshore Prinos, Greece’s only producing field in the north, are making progress, sources have informed.

Heightened Turkish provocations in the Aegean Sea over the past few days – the neighboring country sent a survey vessel into Greece’s EEZ – and greater US presence in the wider southeast Mediterranean region, are two developments that have injected further urgency into the Prinos field rescue talks.

The east Mediterranean is at the core of geopolitical developments that promise to create new political and energy sector conditions.

US oil corporation Chevron, America’s second-biggest energy group, has joined fellow American upstream giant ExxonMobil in the east Mediterranean with a five billion-dollar acquisition of Noble Energy.

This takeover by the California-based buyer adds to the Chevron portfolio the gigantic Leviathan gas field in Israel’s EEZ, as well as the Aphrodite gas field, situated within the Cypriot EEZ and estimated to hold 4.5 trillion cubic feet.

It also offers Chevron prospective roles in the East Med pipeline, to supply Europe via the Leviathan field, and Egypt’s LNG infrastructure, all elevating the petroleum group into a dominant regional player.

Israel and Cyprus recently ratified the East Med agreement, as has Greece, while Italy appears to be examining the prospect.

In another regional development, the Total-ENI-ELPE consortium is preparing to conduct seismic surveys at licenses south and southwest of Crete, and an environmental study southeast of Crete has been approved by Greek authorities. Also, oil majors with interests in Cyprus’ EEZ have planned a series of drilling operations for 2021.

Meanwhile, Turkey, trespassing into both Greek and Cypriot EEZ waters, consistently cites a memorandum recently signed with Libya as support for its actions, as well as its refusal to sign the UN’s International Law of the Sea treaty, strongly disagreeing with an article that gives EEZ and continental shelf rights to island areas.

Greek government officials are well aware that closure of the Prinos field amid such precarious conditions would lead to major consequences, not just economic and social, as would be the case under normal conditions, but also geopolitical.

Turkish-Libyan MoU ‘ignores’ International Law of the Sea

A Turkish-Libyan Memorandum of Understanding emphatically ignores article 121 of the International Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), which recognizes Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf rights for island areas, and overlooks the existence of Crete, Karpathos, Kasos, Rhodes and Kastellorizo to carve out approximately 39,000 square kilometers of Greek territory south of Crete for Libya, petroleum geologist and energy economist Dr. Konstantinos Nikolaou, a former member of the board at the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company, has pointed out in an analysis, spelling out the dangers of Turkey’s provocative behavior in the region.

Turkey misappropriates the continental shelf and EEZ associated with Crete, Karpathos, Kasos, Rhodes and Kastellorizo in the east Mediterranean, he noted on the MoU, submitted by Turkey to the UN in an effort to make gains at Greece’s expense.

Hydrocarbon licenses for plots south and southwest of Crete that have been awarded by the Greek State to Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and published in the Official Journal of the European Union, set a precedent that backs the positions of Greece, whose division of the area is based on International Law of the Sea guidelines, Nikolaou highlighted.

Turkey is using its state-run petroleum corporation TPAO as a tool to exercise foreign policy for territorial gains, Nikolaou added.

Natural gas discoveries in the east Mediterranean serve as a major driving force behind the actions of Turkey, whose energy sector is import-dependent, he pointed out.

Greek Energy Forum joins EU workgroup of natural gas experts

The Greek Energy Forum (GEF), an international non-governmental organisation operating as a network for Greek energy professionals, has been inducted into the UN Economic Commission for Europe’s Workgroup of Natural Gas Experts, as an official member, GEF has announced in a statement.

The UN, as is widely known in the energy industry, consistently supports global initiatives for the promotion of sustainable energy and, within this context, has established a group of gas experts in order to support the achievement of the targets recently agreed to at COP 21, the Paris Global Summit on Climate Change.

The Greek Energy Forum’s addition to the group will allow the forum’s members to offer specialized and rich expertise with the aim of helping the UN workgroup determine the best policies that may boost the penetration of natural gas in the energy mix.

More specifically, the forum will join two United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) taskforces. The first, Taskforce A, aims to determine the best policy practices on the role of natural gas in the increasing uptake of renewable energy in the ECE Region and also help achieve the objective of providing energy access to all ECE Region members. In addition, as a member of Taskforce B, the Greek Energy Forum will seek to offer Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) guidance for optimal policies.

These taskforces are manned by representatives of national governments, national and intergovernmental regulatory bodies, non-governmental organisations, energy companies and academic institutions across the globe.

Just days ago, on April 21 and 22, the third session of the Group of Gas Experts in UNECE was held at the UN Headquarters in Geneva (Palais De Nations).

Greece and the Greek Energy Forum were represented by the GEF chairman, Alexandros Lagakos, who was also invited to attend as a guest speaker.

Lagakos presented an update on the progress and the ongoing steps towards the development of southeastern Europe into an efficient regional gas market. In particular, he analysed the impact of the ongoing and planned infrastructure projects (interconnections, storage) in the region, the progress of hydrocarbon exploration and extraction tenders, as well as the prospects of the addition of new sources into the Balkan region’s gas supply mix.