BUSINESS

High hopes for hydrocarbons

Extended surveying and interest by two oil giants point to findings that may beat expectations By Chryssa Liaggou

The Development Ministry was brimming with optimism on Wednesday upon the completion of the PGS survey vessel’s missions in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete. Norwegian company Petroleum Geo-Services has been conducting seismic surveys that will illustrate to what extent estimates regarding the quantities of hydrocarbon reserves in the two areas are correct.

However, the mere fact that two top oil companies, French Total and US ExxonMobil, are said to have already expressed an interest in acquiring the data gathered by PGS shows that the high expectations that the rich reserves found in Israel and Cyprus extend to Greece are set to be confirmed.

The interest of the two multinationals has not yet been formally announced, but it has been confirmed by government sources and in the statement the ministry issued regarding the completion of the ship’s mission.

“The collected data go over and beyond the original planning due to the interest expressed by hydrocarbon companies which, even if they are few in number given the early phase the program is in, are among the leading firms in the sector,” the ministry statement read yesterday.

In the four months leading up to last week, PGS surveyed an area over 55 percent bigger than originally planned, upon the request of the oil companies. However, a clear picture of the real interest of the oil industry in the utilization of hydrocarbon reserves in Greece will emerge toward the end of the year. That is when the government is expected to proceed to splitting the area into blocks so as to start conceding them for utilization.

Regarding the rich reserves believed to be south of Crete, Athens’s aim is to have the concession contracts with the chosen companies signed in the first half of 2015 so that drilling can start with a view to concluding by 2018-19.

The three areas of interest in the Ionian Sea will be drilled even earlier as they are in the open-door process, allowing any company to bid for their concession.

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