Greece’s oil and gas resources management company (HHRM) said on Monday that Exxon and Total, each with 40 percent stakes, and Hellenic Petroleum had jointly bid to explore off Crete, while Spain’s Repsol and Hellenic Petroleum had submitted a joint bid for a block in the Ionian Sea.
Greece launched the tenders last year after expressions of interest by the Exxon-led consortium for the two sites off Crete and by Greece’s Energean for the Ionian block, although Energean has since withdrawn.
HHRM said it would quickly evaluate the offers, while the final approval lies with the Energy Ministry.
Encouraged by large gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean, Greece is eager to attract investment in its energy sector as it tries to emerge from years of economic crisis.
Energy Minister George Stathakis said the interest shown by major oil exploration companies in the tenders was “a vote of confidence in the prospects of the Greek economy and the country’s role as a stabilizing factor in the southeast Mediterranean region.”
Western Greece is an underexplored area and very little data exists on its hydrocarbon potential. HHRM has described the areas off Crete as “high risk-high reward.”
Exxon and Total are currently exploring off Cyprus.
Hellenic plans the first test drilling in the Patraikos Gulf off the Peloponnese peninsula in 2019. It has also been awarded licenses for another two onshore blocks in western Greece.
Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Susan Fenton