Greece has concluded two-dimensional (2D) seismic surveys for two offshore blocks off the island of Crete, under its renewed drive to identify potential gas reserves, the state-owned energy resources company said on Monday.
Greece, which views gas as a transition fuel as it ramps up renewables, has produced small quantities of oil in the past and has attempted to explore its hydrocarbon potential.
A shift to green energy and lack of political will had stalled its exploration plans. But the war in Ukraine last year prompted Athens to speed up exploration in six onshore and offshore blocks, aiming to get a first idea of potential gas reserves later this year.
Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Company (HEREMA) said processing company PGS had concluded 2D seismic surveys off Crete on behalf of ExxonMobil and Greece's biggest oil refiner HelleniQ Energy, which own 70% and 30%, respectively of the exploration rights for gas in the two blocks off Crete.
"A total of 12,278 km of seismic data were collected against the minimum contractual obligation of 6,500 km for the two blocks combined," it said, adding that the operators will now process and evaluate the data before they decide to enter the next exploration phase.
Under HEREMA's gas exploration plan, the next stage will be the collection of more enhanced 3D seismic data which will determine whether the operators will conduct a test drilling.
Past seismic data had indicated the existence of structures similar to recent gas discoveries off Egypt and Cyprus. "Our goal is to have the first exploration drilling within 2025. We need to discover if a new potential source of wealth exists," Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas said.
(Reuters - Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Sharon Singleton)