ECONOMY

Oil rate drop puts hydrocarbon and natural gas plans in doubt

oil-rate-drop-puts-hydrocarbon-and-natural-gas-plans-in-doubt

Low oil rates in global markets and the uncertainty they have generated internationally have also had an impact on the domestic energy industry. Ambitious plans such as a hydrocarbon survey in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete have ultimately failed to move the major oil companies, despite original interest, as they were forced to make significant spending cuts to limit the impact from the decline in oil rates.

The uncertainty has also affected smaller projects in regions such as Ioannina, Katakolo and the Patraikos Gulf for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation, as well as the latest tender for concession of the blocks at Arta-Preveza, Aitoloakarnania and western Peloponnese.

The consequences stretch further to natural gas projects that Greece is relying on to boost its geopolitical position, such as the Transadriatic Pipeline (TAP) and the Greek-Bulgarian interconnecting pipeline (IGB). The completion of the acquisition of the majority stake in gas network operator DESFA by Azeri company Socar is also put in doubt.

Global oil prices have declined 50 percent in the last 18 months, also dragging down natural gas rates and making particularly costly the TAP project and the overall investment for the extraction of the Sach Deniz 2 reserve for Europe’s gas supply. An additional factor hampering the project is the rift between Turkey and Russia, as well as the possible isolation of Turkey, which actually has increased gas needs.

The market is also disputing the completion of the DESFA privatization, as the low oil rates have significantly curtailed Socar’s revenues. The Azeri state-owned company has already announced a program to cut expenditures and reduce pressure.

In the hydrocarbon sector the consequences have been more immediate: Just a few days ago, Irish company Petroceltic departed from the consortium that has undertaken the surveys at the Patraikos Gulf. Its share (33 percent) was bought out by the other two members of the consortium (Hellenic Petroleum and Edison), that upon the start of which began the geophysical surveys, expected to last for 40 days, right at the start of the year. The surveys are being conducted with a special vessel owned by the Dolphin Geophysical UK company.