The strategic environmental study for hydrocarbon exploration and development in the sea region west and southwest of Crete, submitted for public consultation by the Greek hydrocarbons management company (EDEY), speaks of important indications for the presence of hydrocarbons in the region.
It should be reminded that recently the Greek energy minister, George Stathakis, approved the HELPE-Total-ExxonMobil consortium as a chosen investor for hydrocarbon exploration in the blocks west and southwest of Crete.
The study includes a detailed register of the region’s characteristics, it analyzes potential risks during exploration and development and suggests safety measures.
Opportunities and challenges
In total, it is underlined that “the project will contribute to the growth of the national economy, the country’s wellbeing and the lessening of dependence on oil imports, thus strengthening energy security. However, the realization of the exploration program carries significant challenges that can be addresses as part of the present study during the different sub-stages”.
When it comes to the existence of hydrocarbons, it is noted that “the presence of mud volcanoes along the depression zone and the appearance of a large number of folds” constitute significant pointers for hydrocarbons in the region. It is also highlighted that “the mud volcanoes that exist within the Greek EEZ emit natural gas bubbles” and “in collision zones of lithospheric plates… we should not expect the presence of large fields of hydrocarbons, on the contrary, the total volume of reserves in the total of possible geological traps could be important”.
According to the study, the greatest environmental challenges connected to the realization of the program are as follows:
– The undersea noise which can affect cetaceans and is harder to manage than a similar program last year on land.
– The transfer, safe storage and release of substances that can be used for the program’s realization, given the region’s characteristics ie great sea depth.
– The management of produced solid and liquid waste.
– The limitation of air pollution.
– The avoidance of accidental pollution.
Especially about the last part, which is the chance for an oil spill, the study calls for the preparation of emergency planning that will cover cleaning procedures in a case of a leak, while for bigger spills, the modeling of oil spills can be included in plans, as well as expert training and contracts for help through special contractors. Furthermore, the preparation of external plans for managing emergency situations is included, that will cover all offshore installations and connected structures, as well as regions that could potentially be hurt.
The consortium is also called to have models for the expansion of an oil spill, to hit the alarm immediately in case of emergency, to inform staff and relevant authorities and maintain adequate staff, materials and equipment (including surface and air vessels) etc.
It should be reminded that through the energy minister’s decrees, the consortium of HELPE with Total and ExxonMobil was specified as the preferred investor for offshore exploration in the region west and southwest of Crete.
It is part of the tender that commenced in December, 2017, after their application. Negotiations followed with EDEY, which last week submitted its recommendation for their specification as preferred investors.
The next stages involve the checking of the contracts by the court of auditors, their signing by EDEY and the consortium and their ratification by the minister, before they end up in the parliament for ratification.
As EDEY chairman, Ioannis Bassias, said to ANA-MPA, EDEY will soon submit its recommendation for the region of the Ionian Sea, for which the consortium HELPE-Repsol is interested. He also said that the processes moved fast given the fact that offers were submitted in March, 5.
The region southwest of Crete has an acreage of 19,868 sq.km. while the region west of Crete 20,058 sq.km. The offers are being evaluated according to the quality and the timetable of exploration, the lease payment and other compensation, as well as the acreage of the regions that will be freed after the conclusion of each exploration phase.
Who is EDEY
EDEY is the Greek public hydrocarbons authority, with an exclusive participation of the Greek public (100%), which functions as an independent private entity.
Its activities cover a wide range that includes:
– The accumulation, storage, management of exploration data.
– The creation of a national data bank.
– The commendation to the energy ministry of suggested blocks, the preparation and realization of tenders and their promotion on the international market.
– The assessment of offers in tenders.
– The negotiation of contract terms.
– The commendation to the energy ministry for providing leases.
– The monitoring for the correct application of the contracts’ terms.
– The commissioning of regulation, health and environmental regulations.
– The monitoring of the international energy market, especially in hydrocarbon issues.
– The permanent cooperation with Educational and Research institutions.