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Gas Reserves of Greece Could Supply EU for the Next Five Years

Natural gas exploration Greece
Gas exploration, Greece. Credit: Amna Greece / Public Domain

Natural gas has always been a valuable commodity in Europe and is becoming even rarer now, but what is the reason for this? What is behind this is elevated prices due to the interruption in supply caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to the Worldometer, there is just over 1,000,000,000,000,000 BOE (barrels of oil equivalent) worldwide. That number rapidly decreases in the span of seconds as one follows it, however. The good news is that the German newspaper Handelsblatt believes Greek natural gas reserves may save the day—one reason being the fact that Greece is sitting on 600 billion cubic meters of reserves.

The being said, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that demand for natural gas will grow slowly in the coming years given the turbulence in an increasingly narrow market.

Are we running out of natural gas?

Still, reports are contradictory when it comes to the issue of declining reserves of natural gas. For example, the Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI), a company that aims to provide transparency for natural gas prices in North America, announced that the U.S. had eighty-four years of reserves left as of 2021.

In contrast, the Worldometer talked of there being only fifty-two years left worldwide. Yet, the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB) believes that that will happen much earlier. According to their estimates, natural gas will run out by 2060, which means in only thirty-two years. They also estimate that we will have completely depleted oil supplies by 2052 and coal supplies by 2090.

The blame, according to Keisuke Sadamori, IEA’s Director of Energy Markets and Security, lies explicitly on Russia:

Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine is seriously disrupting gas markets that were              already showing signs of tightness.

We are now seeing inevitable price spikes as countries around the world compete for LNG shipments, but the most sustainable response to today’s global energy crisis is stronger efforts and policies to use energy more efficiently and to accelerate clean energy transitions.

The only recourse left is to replace Russia with viable sources of energy supplies and gas from other naturally energy-rich countries

Natural gas reserves in Greece

That could all change, at least in Europe, given the new report by the economic newspaper Handelsblatt. News correspondent Gerd Heller stated in his report from Athens:

[There are] 2000 billion cubic meters of natural gas off the Greek coast. Greece wants to exploit huge reserves. Prime Minister Mitsotakis accelerates the search for natural gas. Their exploitation could start as early as 2027. The whole of Europe could benefit.

Mitsotakis’s announcement concerned the Sanco Swift, a ship conducting seismic surveys in Southwest Crete, the Ionian Sea, and the Peloponnese. The mission was under the patronage of Exxon Mobil and Hellenic Energy.

The report further states that the mission was:

…a new move by Greece towards the exploitation of natural gas fields in its open waters. This is an issue that for years [has] been sidelined for reasons of climate policy, but also because of the supposed reliable availability of cheap Russian natural gas. Now the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis demand a reconsideration.

Greece is now looking for a replacement for Russian natural gas, which in the past covered 45 [percent] of consumption. However, the potential deposits are not only of interest to her Hellas…Based on last year’s consumption, they would be enough to supply the entire EU with natural gas for over five years.

Also provided was the data available for the hydrocarbon deposits in the aforementioned areas, together with the timetables projected for expert assessments and further research in those areas.

In addition, it divulged the fact that there might be reserves in the Aegean. Nevertheless, the report highlighted the difficulty of future explorations there:

Also in the Aegean it is assumed that there are hydrocarbon deposits. So far, however, no research has been done there because Greece and Turkey disagree on the demarcation of the economic zones.

However, Turkey has not made any claims for the areas that are the focus of the investigation.

Greece presents its benchmark as the EU watches

Greece itself has set 2023 as its benchmark for more exploring more sources natural gas of its shores. The EU Commission is highly interested too and have been looking for an alternative to Russia’s stock of natural gas. However, they also find themselves as constrained as Greece  momentarily is when it comes to  exploring prospects in the Aegean.

This is because they themselves are unable to present a solution as the one they would choose would most likely not only cause a split between EU members (in particular the ones truly dependent on Russia). It might also lead to increased discord between EU member states’ leaders.

Still, the aim is to decrease dependency on Russia and the only way to do so would be to find another source.

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