By Chryssa Liaggou
Norwegian company Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) has been selected to undertake seismic surveys in the regions of the Ionian Sea and southern Crete, Environment and Energy Minister Evangelos Livieratos announced on Wednesday in Parliament and then at a press conference in Athens. Greece can expect drilling for hydrocarbons to begin as early as 2014.
PGS also performed seismic surveys off the Cypriot coast, collecting data that have led to the utilization of the first reserves in the island’s exclusive economic zone.
The Norwegian firm’s offer was deemed the best for the Greek state from among the four that were short-listed (PGS, TGS, ION and Spectrum) out of a total of eight companies that had expressed an interest.
The contract, which Livieratos said was agreed on after tough negotiations, is expected to be signed in the next couple of weeks. After the signing, a vessel owned by the Norwegian firm will arrive in the Ionian Sea -- probably from Canada -- and will collect data for a period of three months on a 24-hour basis in a 225-square kilometer zone that stretches from the northern Ionian Sea to 200 kilometers south of Crete. It will then spend five to six months evaluating the data and in mid-2014 the first round of area concessions will begin for oil companies to start drilling in the same year.
PGS has not asked for a time frame regarding the funding of its surveys, estimated at around 15 million euros. At this stage the benefit to the Greek state is limited to a share of the revenues that the Norwegian firm will reap from the sale of the data collected to oil companies. General Secretary for Energy Constantinos Mathioudakis, who heads the bid valuation committee, has estimated the revenues for the Greek state at that stage at 12-13 million euros.
Livieratos insisted that the state will retain control of data release and that the data room will be inside the ministry’s building.
He dismissed environmental concerns by parliamentary deputies, saying that the seismic surveys will be of mild form, but warned that the ministry will be particularly strict regarding environmental protection issues in the ongoing tenders for the concessions at Ioannina, the Gulf of Patra and Katakolo, all in western Greece.