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Greece is planning to accelerate gas exploration offshore Crete to boost domestic production amid surging energy prices and concerns over gas supplies from Russia, reported Reuters, citing government sources.

The country, which earlier produced crude oil in small quantities, attempted to explore its hydrocarbon potential.

The exploration plans were stalled due to low crude prices in previous years, forcing the country to shift its focus towards green energy.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union has been considering ways to reduce its reliance on Russian energy by two-thirds in 2022, and completely end it before 2030.

As a result, Greece is now attempting to tap into domestic resources in order to reduce its reliance on Russian gas. The country imports approximately 40% of its natural gas from Russia.

One government official told Reuters : “In the coming days, Greece will make announcements to accelerate exploration in the Ionian Sea and west of Crete.

“The new geopolitical and energy environment […] requires every country to make even more decisive steps towards its energy security and sufficiency by searching for new energy sources.”

According to a second government official, Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to announce the country’s strategy on ways to reduce dependence on Russian gas, by early next week.

Greece is estimated to hold hundreds of billions of cubic metres in gas reserves, reported the news agency.

Last week, Greece’s hydrocarbons commission senior executive said that the authority has proposed an “ambitious, but feasible” gas exploration plan, which would involve test drilling in approximately four years.

Amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Dutch government is planning to outline plans to further reduce its reliance on Russian energy later this month, reported Reuters.

Dutch Minister for Climate and Energy Rob Jetten, in a letter to parliament, said he was “calling on companies to limit the import of Russian oil and coal as much as possible”.