Results from preliminary natural gas exploration off the large Greek island of Crete are encouraging, according to the CEO of the Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Co. (HEREMA), Aristofanis Stefatos.

Speaking to To Vima, Stefatos said that following the completion of 3D seismic surveys conducted in the two offshore blocks “West of Crete” and “Southwest of Crete” by a consortium comprised of ExxonMobil and HelleniQ, which hold the exploration and exploitation rights, results were optimistic.

He highlighting the volume of data collected through the marine and subterranean seismic surveys. “Our optimism is further bolstered by the scale, credibility, and performance of the contracting companies currently operating in the Greek territory,” the HEREMA chief said.

HEREMA manages the Greek state’s rights over hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation.

Stefatos also grounded his optimism on the size of the companies involved in the Greek upstream sector: “These are global players, such as ExxonMobil, but also Greek champions, such as HelleniQ Energy and Energean, with significant and long-standing experience in hydrocarbon exploration, production, and supply.” Energean has leased blocks in the Ionian Sea.

He emphasized the investments already made by the petroleum companies: “These companies have already made investments of millions within the framework of the research process. Investments that far exceed what is stipulated by the contractors’ conventional obligations, indicating investors’ high interest.”

The significant interest in whether there are sufficient and exploitable hydrocarbon quantities is focused on the marine area of Crete. Based on data, from the latest 3D seismic surveys, PGS covered 874 square kilometers. Experts in the field suggest that it is likely in these areas where the targets of interest for petroleum companies are located.

The next phase regarding investments linked to actual drilling involves concluding the seismic surveys conducted both this year and during the period 2022-2023 (two-dimensional). If the interpretation of these surveys reveals positive findings, then the ExxonMobil – HelleniQ Energy consortium will make the investment decision to proceed with the first exploratory drilling.

Apart from its strategic role in Greece’s energy sector, HEREMA is the country’s transitional competent authority for offshore safety in oil and gas operations; a role it was been performing since July 2016.