CEO of HELPE Upstream S.A.: “During the crisis, we invested more than €3 billion in O&G segment in Greece”

CEO of Hellenic Petroleum Upstream S.A.Yannis Grigoriou gave a special interview in the 3rd episode of BGS Talks Youtube show. With Regina Chislova, Project Director of Exploration and Production Offshore Congress Hub EPOCH 2019, they talked about offshore exploration in Greece, relations between the company and the Greek government, cooperation with ExxonMobil and Total, investments during the crisis and other topics. Here are the extracts provided by our partner BGS Group exclusively for our readers. The full interview is available on BGS Talks Youtube channel.

Regina: In general, let us list the most important projects happening in the region right now.

Yannis: I think what is going around Cyprus is very interesting, the majors are there <…>. I think that over the next days we will have some positive announcements. The licensing round of Egypt was a success for the country.<…> And in Greece we have started to sign the Lease Agreement for two huge offshore blocks around Crete together with Total and Exxon Mobil.

R: Could you give us more details on this project, since the really huge majors came to the region.

Y: We got geological concepts in our mind. It was almost three years ago, when we had in our hands some multi-client seismic data sold by PGS, we were looking at those and trying to interpret the complex geology of the area. <…> So we worked on that for 2 or 3 months and then we discussed that with Total <…>. We thought “Let’s form a joint venture to go further on that.” We did that and then we thought again “We need another one company to join us” and <…> we approached Exxon Mobil. <…> In autumn 2016 we created a very strong joint venture for the exploration in the country: Total 40% operator, Exxon Mobil – 40%, and Hellenic – 20%. <…> After negotiations and all that stuff we are about now to sign the lease agreements for these 2 blocks which are really big and very promising.”

“R: Anyway, the country suffered from a huge crisis,how the oil and gas industry was surviving when everything had happened?

Y: In Hellenic we survived because during the crisis we invested more than €3 billion in building a brand new refinery near Athens and we upgraded our refineries. Because the group is mostly the downstream oriented group this investments, first of all, created a number of jobs for the areas <…>, we had an opportunity to produce high-quality products according to the strictest EU specifications, which we exported in the nearby countries: to Italy, France, we are exporting petrochemicals to Turkey. So we overcame the Greek crisis by exporting products. And actually, the group is very proud of that the last 3 years we are experiencing high profits <…>. Our profits on an EBITDA basis are almost €800-900 million which gives us an opportunity for further growth and investing in other business opportunities like upstream or renewables. Because the export of renewables is also the next pillar for growth for the company.”

“R: The principle of your company is “we operate responsibility towards society and environment”. <…> Can you tell us more? So the Greek environment is perfect, everyone knows about it. How do you protect it?

Y: Health, safety and environment is our first principle for all the activities we have in the company. <…> So we are trying the best, we are spending for doing the best in all our activities for protecting the health of our employees, the health of the local communities, and their safety and the environment. I’ll give you an example of our recent project in Patraicos gulf where we conducted a 3D seismic survey in accordance will environmental compliance and with special attention to dolphins. <…> I can tell you that in the project of 5 mln dollars, all that we did for the environment was 400.000 dollars, it’s 8% which is nothing for the technical project. What I mean by that is that we as a company we can afford to increase a project by 5 or 8% to keep all the measures, all the restrictions all the constraints for the environment.”

“R: How do you approach your team as a senior-level manager?

Y: If I say “as a friend” perhaps there will be misunderstanding in the whole group, but the way we work is like that. We are not a kindergarten: perhaps, if you ask them, they might tell you that I’m a very strict boss and I push them to the end. But we set goals – sometimes the difficult ones – and all of us work together to achieve them.”

Watch the full interview on BGS Talks Youtube channel to know why does Yannis think it is possible to discover the fields similar to Zohr in Greek offshore, what do “seismic” and “earthquake” have in common in Greek and how to cope with failure. Learn more about EPOCH 2019 in Thessaloniki, Greece at the Congress website.

Any use of interview materials in any form is allowed only with the written permission of the publisher and the copyright holder (LLC BGS Group). Use refers to any reproduction, distribution, dissemination of materials to the public, translation and other processing of materials, as well as other uses.

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