The Greek government will launch tender procedures for oil exploration contracts in the Ionian Sea and southern Crete in 2012, after completion of seismic research in these regions, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Deputy Minister Yiannis Maniatis told a Mediterranean conference on oil and natural gas on Monday.
The Greek minister also left the door open for possible synergies between the natural gas pipelines of Turkey-Greece-Italy and TAP (Turkey-Greece-Albania-Italy), while he mentioned the role of Russia in ensuring energy supplies for Europe, in the aftermath of a crisis in North African countries.

Maniatis said procedures to set up a public agency, which will take over the management of state rights in exploration and exploitation of oil and natural gas fields, were under way, while he noted that the government was modernizing the country's institutional framework on exploration, based on the Norwegian framework.
The Greek minister stressed that plans to build natural gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea to Europe should be based on viability and technical maturity criteria and not on political criteria.

"The Turkey-Greece-Italy pipeline is more mature, financially affordable and with the right dimensions, minimizing geopolitical risks compared with other options," Maniatis said.

He left the door open, however, for synergies with the TAP pipeline.

Greece supports the construction of the South Stream pipeline, Maniatis said while he stressed that Russian energy exports immediately covered the gap left by North Africa in the last few months.

Commenting on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, the Greek minister expressed the hope that local societies and Bulgarian authorities will respond positively to a new environmental survey submitted by the operating company to the Bulgarian government

Hellenic Petroleum expresses interest  in oil exploration contracts

Hellenic Petroleum Group on Monday officially expressed interest in participating in oil and natural gas exploration projects in Greece. Yiannis Kostopoulos, the group's chief executive, addressing an energy conference in Athens, said Hellenic Petroleum was awaiting completion of a regulatory framework by the government to participate in on-shore and off-shore exploration.

Kostopoulos said lower demand for liquid fuel, because of an economic crisis, was pressuring the European refinery industry and noted that several refineries have either been sold or closed down in the last few months. He noted, however, that there was increased demand in the Mediterranean from non-European countries, particularly for diesel oil ,and said that Hellenic Petroleum was focusing on raising production of diesel oil.
Kostopoulos said the Greek market has recorded a 10-14 pct decline in demand and stressed that the group was boosting its export activities.

H. Sahinis, chief executive of DEPA, said demand for natural gas in Greece was expected to rise to 4.0 billion cubic metres this year, from 3.6 billion in 2010, reflecting increased use of natural gas in electricity production.
Al Cook, vice-chairman of BP Shah Deniz Development, said the company has asked from the three candidate natural gas pipelines (Turkey-Greece-Italy, TAP and Nabucco) to present the plans by October 1.
Marcel Kramer, chief executive of South Stream, presented the benefits for Europe and Greece offered by the natural gas pipeline which will transport natural gas supplies to Europe.

Kjetil Tungland, managing director of TAP, presented the benefits of the natural gas pipeline saying it was the cheapest and offered the shortest route.