ExxonMobil will start conducting seismic surveys in two blocks southwest of Greece's Peloponnese peninsula and the island of Crete in the coming days, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday.
Greece, an entry point for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, aspires to become a gas producer and a hub for the storage and transfer of gas to the rest of Europe, given its location and investments on related infrastructure.
"Our country, regardless of its focus on a fast green transition, is obliged to explore if it has the potential to mine natural gas, which will contribute to our country's energy security and Europe's," Mitsotakis said.
"These surveys will begin by ExxonMobil in the coming days," the conservative premier said during an interview with Greece's Ant1 TV.
In July, ExxonMobil and Greece's biggest oil refiner HelleniQ Energy agreed to take over TotalEnergies' share in two contracts for gas and oil exploration off Crete, after the latter pulled out.
ExxonMobil is the operator, owning 70% of the rights for looking for hydrocarbons off Crete. HelleniQ Energy holds the rest.
Mitsotakis said in April the country plans to speed up exploration for gas reserves to replace Russian gas with indigenous resources. The country aims to have a clear idea by 2023 on whether it has gas reserves it could tap.
(Reuters - Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Josie Kao)