THE HYDROCARBONS OF GREECE

In the long term study of Energy strategy of the European Commission, only two new sources of energy are identified to cover the ever increasing needs in Hydrocarbons of Europe: The North Pole and Eastern Mediterranean.

 

Europe will face a gap of 100 bcm (billion cubic meters) of gas a year for a total consumption of 500 bcm per year at present by the year 2018. Between 2020 – 2025 oil also will reach its peak becoming rarer and significantly more expensive from then on.

The European need for significant new sources of hydrocarbons is well established.

In this environment the recent Cyprus and Israel discoveries of hydrocarbons in the Levantine basin which is the area enclosed between Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Cyprus are very encouraging for hydrocarbon discoveries in Greece.

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Has extended experience in oil and gas transport. The conclusions of his thesis on the non polluting super tanker written 40 years ago are now parts of the international oil transport regulations. He was for many years advisor of the European Commission as coordinator of the Inogate Program for oil and gas transport from ex Soviet Union to the West.

 

It is not wise to estimate the oil and gas potential of a country prior to exhaustive collection and analysis of data. The up to date experience is that there is a strong possibility, but this, up to now, was not substantiated by exhaustive research leading to proof.

 

To inform the average reader on the reasons for this it suffices to state that hydrocarbons research up and including the drilling of the exploratory well, may cost up to 100 million dollars and only one in seven such drillings is economically viable. For the oil companies to undertake this risk a wealth of analytical data is mandatory.

Scientists that are internationally reputable as Foskolos, Samaras, Konofagos and Zelelides underline the existence of significant hydrocarbons deposits in Greece

 

The seismic data of the advanced 3D type in a dense grid a result of the recent work of the specially equipped vessel Nordic Explorer are just now available for the Ionian Sea and the South side of Crete. This data will be processed and within six months to a year will be given to the Greek State and the interested companies.

 

Subsequently the sea area around Greece with emphasis on the Ionian Sea and Crete will be split in blocks and each block will be auctioned to prospective oil companies. We expect by 2016-2017 to have the first results.

 

From what we know now there are strong indications that hydrocarbon deposits are in existence in the Ionian Sea where there are two expected big blocks called “Achilles” and “Pyrrus” west of Corfu.

These deposits are in line with existing operational deposits in Albania and the Adriatic and belong to the same geological composition area.

 

Further down the map in the Patras gulf area, we know that there are deposits in Zakinthos, in Keri area where oil trickles to the surface in small quantities and in Katakolo where bubbles of methane gas rise to the surface.

Some of these facts are known since the time of Herodotus. The strong possibility of significant hydrocarbon deposits in the Patras area has been recently confirmed and enhanced by “Nordic Explorer”.

 

Initial drilling thirty years ago in Katakolo has found quantities of gas which with the prices of gas then was not economic to exploit.

 

There are even more suspected deposits South of Crete as reputable geologists have indicated and where now a dense advanced seismic research provides enough data to confirm the increased scientific possibility of hydrocarbons to be worth of exploratory drilling, after further research and data evaluation.

There is also a strong possibility of a field South West of Crete near the Libyan A.O.Z.

 

There are also strong indications of hydrocarbons in other areas of Greece such as Ioannina, Thessaloniki, Agrinio and of course in the Kavala – Thassos area to mention a few.

 

Up to now there was not a lack of hydrocarbons existence indications but a lack of the systematic continuous research work required to optimize the areas which are more worthy of further exploration and so leading to eventual discovery. In a remarkable for Greece continuation of research spanning more than one government and a number of years, the spasmodic and ad hoc research of the past has been replaced by methodical piling-up of trustworthy data and a modern relevant law covering these issues.

For the first time following the work of Nordic Explorer the Greek State will have a sound base of facts to establish the blocks to be auctioned to the oil prospecting companies.

 

It can not be emphasized enough that oil companies undertake drilling only after the methodical collection of data of every form, from satellite and aerial surveys to seismic data and geological composition and ground analysis, because of the high cost of drilling.

This is increasingly an expensive operation as the data search focuses more and more on smaller areas which have a higher percentage probability of hydrocarbon existence. When the data are sufficiently positive, exploratory drilling starts.

Once this is proven, it remains for the oil company to negotiate the Production Sharing Agreement with the state for the drilling to start. It is useful to note that the Greek State has very weak knowledge of P.S.A. negotiations.

 

It is hoped that blocks will be defined by 2014 – 2015 and drilling will start by 2015 – 2016.

 

Without cries of enthusiasm but with an optimistic attitude we can reasonably expect some significant hydrocarbon discoveries in the near future. The size of the economic benefit for the country and the State is subject to the size of the discoveries, their location and the degree of extraction difficulties. However experts expect a benefit for the State of between 1 to 4 billion euros per year and thousands of new jobs.

 

There is no doubt among the specialists that oil and gas will be found in Greece. How soon and how much are not only subject to mother nature but also on the Greek State continuing to work with the spirit shown in the recent years.

 

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