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Greece Begins Gas Exploration Off Crete

Greece gas exploration
The seismic surveys are being conducted by the ExxonMobil/HelleniQ Energy joint venture that owns the rights in the area with the Sanco Swift vessel. Credit: AMNA

Greece began gas exploration starting with seismic surveys on Thursday in offshore areas west and southwest of Crete, Environment and Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas said.

In speaking to public television channel ERT, Skrekas said that “the ship has begun. At this moment it is laying the cables,” which are needed for the sonic waves used in the prospecting.

Seismic surveys are being conducted by the ExxonMobil/HelleniQ Energy joint venture that owns the rights in the area with the Sanco Swift vessel, chartered by the Norwegian geophysical survey specialist PGS.

The vessel offers an up-to-date platform for a broad range of seismic operations. It is fully equipped for 3D broadband seismic, using GeoStreamer technology.

Skrekas underlined that “the field which we suspect exists southwest of Crete and the Peloponnese may be the last hope that the [oil and gas] extraction industry has of finding a large natural gas field in the region of Eastern Europe.”

Area of gas exploration in southwestern Greece
The areas west and southwest of Crete where Exxon Mobil will conduct surveys for gas. Public Domain

Provided that the results are encouraging, exploratory drilling will continue at the end of 2026 followed by the exploitation of the deposits in 2027.

However, he noted that “until we drill and see what is really there, everything is on the level of speculation.”

Responding to concerns about the impact on the environment and marine life, Skrekas said that the best global practices are being applied and that the environmental legislation of Greece is very strict and will be respected.

Critics also highlight the potential risk of spills and say the project, if successful, would increase Greece’s use of fossil fuels amid the planet’s climate change crisis.

The discovery of gas “would contribute to the energy security”

Gas exploration in southwestern Greece was announced by PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis during an interview with private broadcaster Antenna TV on Monday.

“The discovery of natural gas there, as we hope for, would contribute to the energy security of the whole region,” he said.

Mitsotakis insisted that Greece remain dedicated to a “fast green transition,” but he added that the nation “must ascertain whether it currently has the ability to produce natural gas, which would contribute not only to [its] own energy security but also to that of Europe.”

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