With roughly 40% of its annual energy needs covered by Russian gas, Greece will seek to reduce this reliance by expediting exploratory activities with aim of conducting its first test drills by the end of 2023, according to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday.
“Accelerating the exploitation of the country’s national energy resources will allow us, if we are lucky and we have exploitable natural gas fields, to boost our energy independence, our energy security,” Mitsotakis said at a meeting with energy and hydrocarbon officials.
Mitsotakis said that the country wants to have a clear picture by 2023 as to whether there are exploitable deposits, while he added there are indications there may be something that makes the government “optimistic.”
“If we have significant gas reserves, we will replace imports with our national wealth,” he said, outlining Greece’s ambition to become a gas producer and a hub for the storage and transfer of gas to the rest of Europe.
He stated that the surveys will be carried out in six land and sea areas in Western Greece and west of Crete.
He clarified that the new target set by Greece will not undermine its plan to boost green energy and cut carbon emissions by 55% by 2030 in accordance with EU’s climate change targets.
“It is simply an alternative path toward the same target,” he said.
Addressing the same meeting, Energy and Environment Minister Kostas Skrekas said new legislation will be introduced to allow this acceleration to take place. He also announced the creation of a special task force to that end.
According to sources, interest seems more strongly focused on the offshore reserves, while the new legislation facilitating their exploitation will be designed along similar lines to Egypt’s regulations.
In a recent report citing new studies by Hellenic Hydrocarbon Resources Management SA (HHRM) and the Athens Academy, the nongovernmental Institute of Energy for Southeast Europe (IENE) argued that if just a quarter of the planned drills in the Ionian and west of Crete are successful, Greece may be looking at deposits of 70-90 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which would cover 15-20% of the European Union’s annual consumption.
IENE also reiterated HHRM estimates that Greece’s reserves may be worth as much as 250 billion euros.