Banking on sea blocks off the southern island of Crete to fulfill its ambition to become a natural gas producer, Greece is moving full speed ahead to expedite procedures to start exploratory activities as soon as possible, and make up for lost time while remaining careful not to cause geopolitical tensions.
For this reason the stance of the two big multinationals Total and ExxonMobil is deemed pivotal and in the coming days Hellenic Hydrocarbon Resources Management (EDEY) will ask for their commitment to accelerate the research program announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Practically this means that in the first phase, research should begin to obtain 6,500 kilometers of two-dimensional seismic data in the winter period 2022-23. The management of EDEY is also reportedly taking action to overcome the impasse that has arisen after the appeal of environmental organizations to the Council of State against the ministerial decision for the approval of the strategic environmental impact study, in a case characterized as high-risk by investors.
Sources have stressed that the company is assisting the state in the trial of the case, set for October. At the same time it is undertaking a commitment to investors with a form of risk compensation in case the Council of State sides with the environmental organizations.
The environmental issue, however, remains high on the agenda of EDEY, which is on the brink of launching an information campaign for local communities and a dialogue with environmental organizations.
The two blocks in question have been granted to the Total-ExxonMobil-Hellenic Petroleum consortium after an international tender in 2017.
They cover an area of 40,000 square kilometers and are the most promising. What’s more, the structures of the two regions are similar to the two geological models of the Eastern Mediterranean – namely Leviathan off the coast of Israel and Zohr off Egypt – whose respective discoveries changed the geopolitical picture in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Previous studies by EDEY in sea areas off Crete and in the Ionian identified targets with potential reserves of 70-90 trillion cubic feet of gas – i.e. as much as 2.5 times the Zohr deposits, the largest in the Eastern Mediterranean. If such a deposit is indeed confirmed, experts say it could radically change Greece’s economy.