NEWS

Premier eyes Greece's energy potential

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras declared on Wednesday that Greece could bring in 150 billion euros in much-needed state revenue over the next 30 years through the exploitation of its undersea energy deposits.

Samaras, who has consistently underlined Greece's untapped potential in the sector and has encouraged foreign leaders to consider Greece as a potential hub for supplying Western Europe, made the optimistic assessment during a visit to the Environment and Energy Ministry. He spoke of «strong indications» of sizeable energy reserves in the Ionian Sea and off the coast of Crete that could bring Greece sorely needed funding, albeit over a period of 25 to 30 years.

The premier outlined a five-point energy strategy for Greece comprising a transparent process for the research and exploitation of energy resources; respect for the environment and the securing of as many jobs as possible in the sector for Greek workers; the efficient exploitation of Greece's potential geopolitical role in providing energy to Western Europe; the boosting of social cohesion by channeling a portion of future profits into the welfare system; and the promotion a synergy between the energy sector and other economic sectors.

The premier’s announcement came just a few days before deals for the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, and in the Gulf of Patra, are expected to be signed. A consortium led by Hellenic Petroleum is expected to undertake drilling off the Gulf of Patra where the volume of oil reserves is estimated at around 200 million barrels. Another consortium, led by Energean Oil, is slated to drill for between 50 and 80 million barrels of oil near Ioannina. Initial agreements were reached yesterday after the Finance Ministry offered the consortiums the requested guarantees regarding a stable tax framework for the next 35 years, Kathimerini understands.

Norway's Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS), which has carried out offshore seismic tests in the country's south and west to determine the extent of the country's energy reserves, has started presenting its findings at energy forums around the world and is expected to release a comprehensive overview by early April.

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