Energy Crisis

Environmentalists oppose Greece’s plan to accelerate fossil gas exploration, extraction

Government announced exploration and extraction of fossil gas and oil, environmentalists oppose

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Published

April 14, 2022

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Published:

April 14, 2022

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that the country would accelerate efforts to explore and exploit potential oil and gas reserves and build infrastructure for hydrocarbons and gas pipelines. Greenpeace criticized the plan to speed up the extraction of gas and its transport to the rest of Europe, saying it is not the proper response to the energy and climate crises.

Greece will speed up gas exploration with measures aimed at beginning the first test drilling by the end of next year, Mitsotakis said. The government upgraded the hydrocarbon exploration projects to the level of national importance.

“If we do have significant reserves, we will replace imports with our own national wealth,” said Mitsotakis.

Greece covers about 40% of its energy needs with Russian gas, and the government is seeking ways to reduce its use. Legislation will be introduced to shorten the procedures, according to the announcement.

The government said it would propose legislation to shorten the procedures

“Greece has an important role to play in the new energy landscape that is taking shape. We are a regional hub for the transport and storage of natural gas toward the Balkans, toward the rest of Europe, through the TAP pipeline, through the IGB pipeline, which will soon be completed and will supply gas to Bulgaria, through new possible interconnections – like we said – with the countries of the Middle East. But also with more fixed and floating gas storage units that private investors initiate,” the prime minister stressed.

Areas of exploration

There are five offshore zones and one on land where research is envisaged to accelerate. The licenses for hydrocarbon exploration were all issued earlier.

The research consortium for two zones in the west and southwest of Crete consists of TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, and Hellenic Petroleum. The consortium of Energean and Hellenic Petroleum will conduct research in an area west of Corfu.

Hellenic Petroleum has licenses for a block in the Ionian Sea southwest and south of Corfu and another one which is further to the south, next to the Gulf of Kyparissia along the Peloponnese coast. The company already completed a two-dimensional seismic survey in the two zones. The government temporarily banned the activities following a protest by environmentalists as a group of small whales were found beached on Corfu in February.

Energean has exploration rights for the onshore zone in the Ioannina area, which borders Albania. Its project is the most advanced.

Greek media outlet Ekathimerini reported that, according to studies by Hellenic Hydrocarbon Resources Management (HHRM) and Athens-based nongovernmental organization Institute of Energy for Southeast Europe (IENE), Greek gas reserves may be worth 250 billion euros.

Environmentalists criticized the announced plan

Greenpeace said it expected the current energy crisis and the war in Ukraine would prompt the government to make brave and necessary decisions regarding the country’s energy policy. Energy planning must be conducted for the long term, it said.

The prime minister claims gas extraction would not affect climate targets and that fossil gas is only a transitional fuel, but no extraction is a proper response to either the energy crisis or the climate crisis, the activists added.

Greenpeace: No gas extraction is a proper response to either the energy crisis or the climate crisis

The issue of the country’s energy self-sufficiency must be considered in light of the fossil fuel dependence and how to phase it out, Greenpeace said. The country has to be able to adjust its goals and revise them where appropriate, but to keep the main pillars of the transition constant, it underscored.

The high bill from the escalating crisis will be paid again by the citizens and not by fossil fuel companies, Greenpeace argues.

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