Greece looks out to sea for gas wealth salvation

Wed Oct 3, 2012 12:13pm GMT

* Exploration needed to confirm surveys

* Top seismic firm upbeat on reserve potential

* Crisis, surging fuel bills revive Mediterranean energy

By Oleg Vukmanovic and Stephen Jewkes

LONDON/MILAN, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Offshore natural gas could dramatically change Greece's fortunes, should early estimates of $600 billion worth of reserves be confirmed, according to a study presented to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in June and seen by Reuters.

The study, collating existing scientific data, says that geological similarities indicate that reserves offshore Crete may match the prolific Levantine Basin where recent Israeli and Cypriot discoveries are clustered.

It points to strategically significant reserves in Greek waters south of Crete in the range of 3.5 trillion cubic meters (Tcm), enough to cover over six years of EU gas demand, and the equivalent of about 1.5 billion barrels of oil.

While it will take years to explore and develop any offshore gas sector, Greece has launched a licensing round and has commissioned a seismic survey company to pin down the extent of hydrocarbon deposits. The results are expected in mid-2013.

Presenting their findings, study authors Antonis Foscolos, Elias Konofagos and Nikos Lygeros said they expected the reserves to generate $599 billion in state earnings over 25 years.   Continued...

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