The prime minister of Greece has promised to expand the country’s gas exploration program in response to rising oil and gas prices.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that Greece aims to have a clear idea of its usable oil and gas fields by 2023. He also said that initial estimations of the country’s gas reserves had left the government “optimistic”.
He said: “Accelerating the exploitation of the country’s national energy resources will allow us, if we are lucky and we have exploitable natural gas fields, to boost our energy independence, our energy security.”
Greece saw a general workers’ strike earlier this month, in response to rising costs of living following the invasion of Ukraine. The country relies on Russian gas for approximately 40% of its energy consumption.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European countries have aimed to minimise their oil and gas trade with the country. While the EU has not yet made plans to formally limit oil and gas deals with Russia, the bloc’s recent agreement to limit coal imports has moved it closer to making long-term Russian phase-out plans.
Since the millennium, Greece’s gas production has trailed off, steadily declining from 1,968TJ in 2000. In 2019, the country produced 445TJ, a long fall from its 1990s peak of 6,426TJ. Oil liquids production has told a similar story, falling from 5.39 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) in 1990 to 1.15 million boe in 2019.
Mitsotakis also said that the increase in exploration would not hinder the country’s energy transition. Last week, he promised to increase the speed of renewable project licensing to offset potential impacts on energy supplies. The country aims to increase its installed renewable capacity to 19GW by 2030, almost double its current capacity.
On Monday, Greece’s energy minister met with the energy ministers of Israel and Cyprus to discuss responses to rising energy prices. A spokesperson for the Greek energy ministry said that the three discussed utilising gas liquefaction facilities in Egypt to ship LNG across the eastern Mediterranean. Alongside this, they “agreed to investigate” construction of an LNG terminal in Cyprus to better equip the region for use of natural gas.