Greece is expected to announce initiatives to accelerate natural gas exploration in the Ionian Sea and in Crete after Russia threatened to cut off supplies to Europe.
According to a report in the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA), the aim of the initiatives will be:
- to conclude seismic surveys, which give the first indications for the possible existence of deposits, in 1-2 years, i.e. in 2023-2024.
- to complete research drillings, which confirm the size and the economic figures of the exploitation of the deposits in 3-4 years (2025-2026), and
- to start gas production in 6-7 years (2028-2029).
As officials stated to AMNA, the goals are realistic compared to the schedule of other countries in the region, such as Egypt and Israel.
They also cited the example of Hellenic Petroleum, which carried out seismic surveys in areas of the Ionian Sea in February within a few weeks.
However, cooperation from all parties involved will be needed to overcome the current obstacles, and time is running out not only because of the crisis but also because of the EU’s anti-pollution policy, which still aims to become independent from hydrocarbons.
Russia threatens to cut off the natural gas supply to Europe
Earlier in the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to cut off Russian gas to Europe if “unfriendly countries” don’t pay in rubles.
“If unfriendly countries do not pay in rubles from April 1, we will consider this a default on gas contracts, in which case, existing contracts will be stopped,” Putin stated on Thursday.
“Unfriendly countries” are those which have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly the U.S., U.K., and members of the European Union, including Greece.
Greece imports more than 30% of natural gas from Russia
Greece is working to reduce its dependency on Russian energy imports. In early March, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated to Parliament: ” We cannot rule out attempts by Russia to blackmail. We all realize this… will disrupt global supplies and probably trigger a further rise in (energy) prices.”
As Greece imported 33% of its gas supplies from Russia in January, Athens called on the EU to support member-states and businesses against a further rise in energy costs.
Mitsotakis assured Parliament, saying that his government is prepared for a “worst-case scenario where gas supplies from Russia are halted,”as its liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility at Revythousa near Athens has been recently replenished.”
“We are strengthening the diversification of our resources. In January, Greece covered 47% of domestic demand with LNG from Revythousa and 20% through the TAP pipeline,” Mitsotakis revealed.
On March 25, US President Joe Biden and EU President Ursula von der Leyen announced a major deal on liquified natural gas in an attempt to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy.
The agreement will see the US provide the EU with at least 15 billion additional cubic meters of fuel – known as LNG – by the end of the year.