Greece could be sitting on natural gas reserves of more than 600 billion cubic meters, a senior executive of its hydrocarbons commission told Reuters on Thursday.
As Greece accelerates gas exploration to cut its reliance on Russian energy, Chief Executive Officer of Greece’s hydrocarbons commission Aristofanis Stefatos told Reuters that “volume-wise, our estimates right now are that 85% of tentative total reserves are actually natural gas.”
“Preliminary evaluations of targets suggest more than 600 bcm (billion cubic meters) of tentative recoverables,” he said.
Greece’s priority is to look for gas and not for oil, he said: “This eliminates the possibility of an oil spill and minimizes any environmental risks.”
Greece said on Tuesday that by 2023, it will be known whether it has natural gas reserves that are economically viable to extract.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who met the country’s hydrocarbons commission and energy industry executives, said that Greece will speed up gas exploration projects in concert with private investors.
“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.
“We have indications that make us cautiously optimistic. We have to know with certainty whether there are reserves that are economically viable to extract. We will know…by the end of 2023,” he added.
Six areas that make Greece cautiously optimistic
He explained that this concerns six areas that are located northwest of the island of Corfu, in the Ionian Sea, in the Gulf of Kyparissia, and in the sea west and southwest of Crete, as well as in the regional unit of Ioannina.
For the areas near Crete, the consortium conducting the exploration is comprised of the companies Total, ExxonMobil, and Hellenic Petroleum. An Energean-Hellenic Petroleum consortium is operating near Corfu while Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) and Energean operate in the Gulf of Kyparissia and Ioannina, respectively.
Greece imports more than 30 percent of natural gas from Russia
Greece is working to reduce its dependency on Russian energy imports. In early March, 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 percent 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.