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Greece Says Total-Led Group Preferred Bidder To Drill For Offshore Gas

Offshore oil rigs

Greece said on Wednesday that it is naming a consortium led by France’s Total SA (NYSE:TOT) and comprised of Italy’s Edison and Greece’s largest refiner, Hellenic Petroleum, as the preferred bidder to drill for gas in an offshore block in the Ionian Sea west of the country.

Back in February of this year, a Hellenic Petroleum official said that Total, Hellenic Petroleum and Edison had filed a joint financial bid for block 2 in the Ionian Sea, Reuters reported back at the time.

According to Greece’s energy ministry’s statement today, a committee that has been reviewing the bids will invite the Total-led consortium to finalize the deal.

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.

Earlier this year, Greece awarded gas exploration concessions for onshore drilling to the country’s only upstream company, Energean, and to Hellenic Petroleum.

Hellenic Petroleum, Edison and Energean have already teamed up to drill for oil in three onshore and offshore blocks in western Greece.

Apart from Greece, oil majors are bidding for offshore drilling rights in Cyprus.

In its gas future, Greece is also expected to benefit from the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which the EU and the U.S. see as a means to lessen Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. In May of this year, TAP broke ground in Thessaloniki, Greece. Construction will take several years, but when the US$45 billion project is completed in 2020, it will deliver 10 billion cubic meters per year of natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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