ECONOMY

Data show more reserves of hydrocarbons in land regions

The government has received firm indications of new hydrocarbon reserves in land blocks, Environment and Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis has told Kathimerini. He added that specific announcements on this issue can be expected this fall.

“It is not only the maritime areas but also the land regions that will be surveyed. In two to three months we will be ready to release precise data,” he stated.

Along with the concession of the first contracts for further surveying in the areas of Ioannina and the Gulf of Patra to consortiums led by Energean Oil and Hellenic Petroleum respectively, as well as the start of the sale of seismic survey data by Norwegian company PGS last Thursday for the region of the Ionian Sea and south of Crete, this development generates major optimism about the likely medium- to long-term benefits for the Greek economy from the extraction and utilization of hydrocarbon reserves.

The state is expecting revenues of about 11 billion euros in the next 25 years from the utilization of the blocks at Ioannina and in the Gulf of Patra. According to Maniatis, this figure “is more than half of what [state privatization fund] TAIPED can fetch” through its state asset sell-off program.

On a regional level, the funds expected to go to development projects, which will also reduce regional inequalities, amount to an estimated 2 billion euros, considerably benefiting the local economies. The direct impact on employment, using the existing drilling unit at Prinos in the northern Aegean as a yardstick, is calculated at 500-600 new jobs in both blocks, while the indirect impact could be three or four times that figure.

The minister added that in its negotiations with companies the government will insist on commitments for the use of the local work force as well as for the choice of Greek scientists. “We wish to ‘Hellenize’ surveying, pretty much like the ‘Saudization’ policy in Saudi Arabia and the ‘Norwegian content’ strategy in Norway,” he stated.

It is for that very purpose that about a month ago the government introduced a special legal clause according to which part of the resources of the Generation Solidarity Fund will go toward funding postgraduate and research programs concerning sciences relevant to hydrocarbon surveying.

In the next few weeks the ministry will also announce the winning consortium for drilling in the Katakolo block, on the coast of the western Peloponnese, which is the third area an “open door” tender had been proclaimed for.