Greece will invite major oil companies next month to conduct offshore test drillings, the government said on Wednesday, launching the debt-laden country’s most ambitious attempt so far to develop its untapped hydrocarbon potential.
Athens has made several fruitless attempts over the past decades to find big reserves of oil or natural gas.
Exploration interest revived during its debt crisis, with the cash-strapped country keen to reduce its big fuel import bill.
Several blocks covering a combined area of more than 200,000 square kilometers in the Ionian Sea and south of the island of Crete are expected to go under the hammer.
Greece has been encouraged in its quest by big offshore natural gas finds in Israel and Cyprus, nearby in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The plan has been code-named “Greece MegaProject” by Petroleum Geo-Services, the Oslo-based firm which completed seismic tests there earlier this year.
Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis will present the tender and PGS’s geological findings at a London conference on July 1-2, the ministry said in a statement.