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Greece has approved an application by a consortium of ExxonMobil, France’s Total SA, and domestic oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum, to drill for oil and gas off the island of Crete, Reuters reported on Friday, quoting the Greek energy ministry as saying.
Greece has also approved another application, by local company Energean Oil, to start drilling for oil offshore western Greece.
The country’s oil and gas resources management body will launch a tender for exploration licenses in the blocks by the end of June, with the goal to award licenses by the end of this year.
Last month, the energy ministry held talks with Exxon and Total to discuss the potential of offshore gas exploration. Back then, a government official told Reuters that a consortium of ExxonMobil, Total, and Hellenic Petroleum was expected to file an application to explore south of the island of Crete.
Greece, which has been struggling with a severe debt crisis in the past few years and has received billions of euros of EU- and IMF-backed bailout support, is trying to resume efforts to search for hydrocarbons both onshore and offshore and possibly lessen its dependence on energy imports in the future.
In October last year, Greece’s energy ministry named a consortium led by Total SA and comprised of Italy’s Edison and Hellenic Petroleum as the preferred bidder to drill for gas in an offshore block in the Ionian Sea west of the country.
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The head of the Hellenic Hydrocarbons Resources Management (HHRM), Yannis Bassias, said last month that the country would start opening new onshore oil and gas blocks for exploration in 2018.
“As of next year, and perhaps earlier, we will begin announcing that we are opening the door to whoever is interested in onshore sites,” according to the head of Greece’s oil and gas resource management body.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.