Natural gas reserves discovered in the Mediterranean Sea around Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, and Greece are changing Europe’s energy politics. In the interview for BGS Talks show Yannis Bassias, President & CEO of Hellenic Hydrocarbon Resources Management (HHRM), talks about exploration in the Mediterranean, changes in the gas market, ultra-deepwater drilling, and explains why Greece “is not a declared gas province yet”. The episode was filmed during the Сongress EPOCH 2019 dedicated to E&P and hosted by Project Director, Regina Chislova.
Read the extracts from the interview provided by BGS Group exclusively for our readers. Watch the full interview at BGS Talks YouTube channel.
Regina: Some people say that the Eastern Mediterranean now presses the upstream button. How do you see the role of Greece for the Eastern Mediterranean’s E&P?
Yannis: <…> “To the west from Greece exploration is not allowed. <…> And the carbonate environments is exactly what we have in the south and west of Crete and almost all the Ionian Sea. Geologically and geographically it fits, <…> the industry will try to find gas and oil in that area. If there are discoveries, it will be the reserves at the range of 500 mln bbl or 3 Tcf exploitable. It is the limit. If you don’t have 3 Tcf, you will not spend money to develop the area.”
R: Why is it a minimum?
Y: “It is related to the LNG business. <…> Basic LNG facility costs 3 bln to build, and you have to have this kind of volumes arriving to the facility. If not, it is not economical. <…> This is why until now we did not see any important steps in the development at the Southeastern Mediterranean, except for Zohr, that is big. <…> In 2-3 years, there will be 3-4 more discoveries. In our business, we work with probabilities. When you explore, you have 3 important points for the probability, <…> 90%, 50% and 10%. When you sell the idea to your management, you present a 10% probability of the big picture. <…> At the exploration stage <…> you work with a 50% probability. And as you discover something and it requires the decision of the financial guys, they need a 90% probability of success. This is why in this area we need more discoveries. It is not a declared gas province yet, but it is going to be in 2-3 years.”
R: You said that the big consortium of Exxon Mobil, Total and Hellenic Petroleum have already started to develop the new production technologies for these deep waters.
Y: “Yes. Today, it is common to drill at a water depth of 2,500 metres. <…> As you go down, the pressure and the weight of tubes and equipment increases. <…> If you go 3,000 m deep, it requires the new technology that is applied already, there is production at 3,000 m of water depth in the Gulf of Mexico, and pipeline in the Black Sea that was set in 2011. But in our case, there are some very interesting structures at 3,500 m. Technology goes very fast, and <…> I would say, more money is now spent on that kind of research, rather than the space research. Already in Uruguay, there are wells drilled at 3,400 m.”
R: Why not to take the same equipment, like the one in Uruguay? Why do you need a new one?
Y: “As the demand for gas increases, the ultra-deepwater areas have a lot of potential and become very important. <…> Especially because lignite and coal are reduced, and oil is reduced for transportation. Alternative energies and renewables will provide around 20% of the energy for transportation and light. So, gas is the most important for the next 30 years.”
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