By Chryssa Liaggou
Greece, Cyprus and Israel will form a major energy alliance based on the prospects created for the three Eastern Mediterranean countries following the discovery of significant reserves of natural gas, Energy Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou announced on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference following the major interest shown in the tender for seismic surveys in four locations around the country, he added that the three countries will sign a memorandum of cooperation in Athens at the end of this month.
Papaconstantinou associated the interest demonstrated by the world’s biggest companies in seismic research in the Ionian Sea and the sea to the south of Crete with the general increase in surveying activity in the Southeastern Mediterranean and estimated that the reserves discovered in Israel and Cyprus as well as those expected in Greece could be comparable with those of the Caspian Sea.
Those findings are leading to a geopolitical shift in the region and could constitute a “third way” for the end of Europe’s energy dependence on certain sources, the minister said, adding that in the most recent European Union Council of Ministers he and his Cypriot counterpart were asked to inform their peers of their countries’ plans for the utilization of hydrocarbon reserves in Greece and Cyprus.
In a clear message to the country’s neighbors, Papaconstantinou made it clear that the government is also determined to search for hydrocarbons in the Aegean Sea too, stressing that “Greece will search through all ways, all the potential reserves in all regions covered by its sovereign rights.”
The ministry’s next step will be the search for reserves in other regions of Greece, such as Evros in Thrace, Kavala, Serres, Thessaloniki and Grevena in Macedonia, Aetoloacarnania, Achaia and Messinia in western Greece and the island of Crete. The same “open-door” process will be used for the tender regarding seismic surveys in those regions, as in the four areas that generated interest by eight of the industry’s leading companies in the world last week.