ATHENS May 19 Greece's energy minister held
talks on Friday with representatives of U.S. oil major
ExxonMobil and France's Total about gas
exploration opportunities off Greek shores, the energy ministry
A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said a consortium of ExxonMobil, Total and Greece's biggest oil
refiner Hellenic Petroleum are expected to submit an
offer "in the coming period" for exploration south of Crete.
Friday's meeting focused on "prospects for exploration and
exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits," the energy ministry said
in a statement.
Greece has made several fruitless attempts over the last 50
years to find big oil and gas reserves, but its debt crisis has
prompted it to step up those efforts.
Athens previously tendered blocks off Crete, its
southernmost island north of Egypt and Libya and west of Cyprus,
in 2013 but did not receive bids.
The country is also hoping to find gas off western Greece
and last year named a consortium of Total, Hellenic Petroleum
and Italy's Edison as the preferred bidder for an
offshore gas drilling block in the Ionian Sea. Licensing is
expected this year.
Exploring for gas in the Mediterranean has become more
attractive since Italy's Eni discovered Egypt's
offshore Zohr field in the Levant Basin in 2015, the biggest gas
field in the Mediterranean and estimated to contain 850 billion
cubic metres of gas.
(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris, Lefteris Papadimas and Angeliki
Koutantou; Editing by Susan Fenton)