Greek recoverable gas reserves exceed 600 billion m3, commission says

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ATHENS, April 14 (Reuters) – Greece could have interim recoverable gas reserves of more than 600 billion cubic meters, a senior official of its hydrocarbons commission said on Thursday, as Athens ramps up gas exploration to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

Greece covers almost 40% of its annual energy consumption of around six billion cubic meters with Russian gas.

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbating soaring prices and gas supply fears, the Greek government pledged this week to step up its search for gas in six blocks of western Greece and off the southern island of Crete. Read more

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“In terms of volume, our current estimates are that 85% of the provisional total reserves are actually natural gas,” Greek Hydrocarbons Commission Director General Aristofanis Stefatos told Reuters in an interview.

“Preliminary target assessments suggest more than 600 billion cubic meters (billion cubic meters) of provisional recoverables,” he said.

Collecting seismic data through hydrographic vessels is a key step in gas exploration to identify potential reserves. Greece aims to conclude a first round of all seismic research by March 2023.

A consortium of TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA), Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) and Hellenic Petroleum (HEPr.AT), authorized to explore two blocks off Crete, has not yet concluded the process.

Environmental groups have also appealed an assessment by authorities of the environmental impact of gas exploration off Crete, saying it did not include the impact of seismic surveys on marine mammals and that the potential risk of exploration outweighed the benefits. A court decision is pending.

Stefatos said the arguments were mostly based on legal technicalities and the commission was “rather optimistic” about getting the case.

Greece’s priority is to look for gas, not oil, he said: “This eliminates the possibility of an oil spill and minimizes environmental risks.”

Greece, which sees gas as a transitional fuel as it ramps up renewables, has produced small amounts of oil in the past and has tried to explore its hydrocarbon potential.

But the switch to green energy and a lack of political will have stalled its exploration plans.

“What has changed is the sense of urgency to advance the development of the Greek upstream sector,” Stefatos said.

“Now that prices and market demand have returned to high levels…we have the market conditions for an acceleration of all of these efforts.”

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Reporting by Angeliki Kotantou; edited by David Evans

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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