The Environment and Energy Ministry was happy to report greater-than-expected interest on Monday in the open tender for hydrocarbon exploration rights in western Greece.

The ministry announced it had received eight offers from 11 Greek and foreign consortia or companies, which generated optimism regarding the state’s chances of making significant gains from the process. The open-door procedure means that there may be more bids coming in at any time until binding offers are made, but the total number of bids already made is far above the ministry’s and the market’s modest expectations.

“It is important that Greece is returning to the energy map, in a period when the energy sector constitutes a great hope for the national economy,” said the new environment and energy minister, Evangelos Livieratos. “At the same time the interest in the process coming from all around the world is showing that Greece’s effort is being recognized and confidence is gradually being restored.”

There have been four bids for the hydrocarbon reserves estimated to be under Ioannina, northwestern Greece: The first is from a consortium of Hellenic Petroleum, Melrose Resources Plc and Edison International SpA, each holding a 33.3 percent stake in the venture; the second is from a consortium of Energean Oil & Gas, Petra Petroleum Inc and Schlumberger; the third is by a consortium of Arctic Hunter Energy Inc with KO Enterprises Inc from Japan; and the fourth is by Chariot Oil & Gas Ltd.

Two bids have come for the Gulf of Patra reserves: from the consortium of Energean Oil & Gas with Trajan Oil & Gas Ltd and Schlumberger, and from the Hellenic Petroleum, Melrose Resources Plc and Edison International consortium.

The Energean Oil & Gas, Trajan Oil & Gas Ltd and Schlumberger consortium has also bid for the Katakolo reserves, in the western Peloponnese, as has Grekoil Energy Ventures Ltd.

During the previous invitation for expressions of interest back in 1996, there had only been two offers for Ioannina, two for the Gulf of Patra and none for Katakolo.

Meanwhile Deputy Minister for Energy Asimakis Papageorgiou said on Monday that the tenders for the seismic surveys for hydrocarbon reserves in the Ionian Sea and in Crete are proceeding and the results of this second phase will be announced soon.