Greece is a country with a rich history and culture, but it also has significant potential for energy developments. Despite being located on the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, Greece has a diverse geology that includes large offshore areas that may contain significant reserves of oil and natural gas. In recent years, IN-VR’s management team has been at the forefront of assisting the country to explore and develop these resources in order to support its economy and energy needs.

Moreover, with abundant sunlight and strong winds, Greece has the potential to generate significant amounts of clean, renewable energy. In recent years, the country has been working to explore and develop these resources in order to support its economy and energy needs, and to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to solar and wind power, Greece is also exploring the potential of hydrogen as a source of renewable energy. Hydrogen is a versatile and clean fuel that can be used to generate electricity, heat homes and power vehicles, and it is seen as a key technology for achieving a low-carbon energy system.

In 2021, Greece had 600 billion cubic metres of recoverable gas reserves, as well as 4,500MW of installed capacity in renewable energies, showing a great potential on track for massive growth.

The following are some of the country’s ongoing and future oil and gas, LNG, renewable, and hydrogen projects that are transforming Greece and the Balkans region’s energy portfolio.

Oil and gas production, exploration and development projects

Prinos Concession – production

Energean is the operator of the Prinos licence in Northern Greece, where it has a 100% working interest. Prinos, Prinos North, and Epsilon are currently the only producing fields in Greece and have produced approximately 130 million barrels of oil equivalent so far. Prinos, Prinos North, and Epsilon oil fields are located in the Gulf of Kavala, 18 kilometres south of the mainland of Northern Greece, in a water depth of 30 to 38 metres.

Since 2009, Energean has successfully completed 3 wells and 17 interventions in the fields of the Prinos Concession with its privately owned drilling rig “Energean Force” and the 4 jack ups it mobilised in the Gulf of Kavala. The Company managed to increase 2P reserves to 36 million barrels of oil equivalent from just 2 million in 2007. Prinos also has 64 million barrels of oil equivalent 2C resources.

In May 2021, Energean made a final investment decision on the revised Epsilon shallow-water tie-back development. Epsilon Phase 1 developments include the construction of the Lamda platform, and completion of the 3 pre-drilled production wells; production is expected to commence in the first half of 2024.

Block 2 – exploration

Energean is the operator and has a 75% working interest (W.I) in Block 2 in the Ionian Sea. Helleniq Energy owns the remaining 25% W.I. In November 2022, Energean successfully completed a 3D seismic survey. Processing and interpretation will follow.

Crete Offshore – exploration

According to Greece’s Minister of Energy and Environment, Kostas Skrekas, in November 2022 the country began gas exploration in offshore areas west and southwest of Crete, starting with seismic surveys.

According to Skrekas, provided that the results are encouraging, exploratory drilling will continue at the end of 2026, followed by the exploitation of the deposits in 2027.

Ionian Block – exploration

Western Greece’s offshore Ionian Block hasHellenic Petroleum Company (HPC) as its only operator with a 100% stake; the Greek Parliament ratified the Lease Agreement on October 3 of 2019 (Act of Law 4629/10.10.2019).

In February 2022, a 2D seismic campaign of 1.600 kilometres was performed, as part of the minimum work program of the first exploration phase. Seismic operations were successful, with zero environmental footprint and full respect for the local communities, taking all the essential protection measures based on the European Union and national legislation, as well as good industry practices. Processing of the new seismic data is in progress with the interpretation to follow.

Katakolo – development

Energean is the operator in the Katakolo license in Western Greece, holding a 100% W.I. The West Katakolo exploitation area is part of the Katakolo Block and covers 60 square kilometres; Netherland Sewell & Associates (NSAI) has audited 14 million barrels of oil equivalent 2C resources in the block.

In August 2017, the Greek Government approved the Field Development Plan (FDP) submitted by Energean. Energean has planned to make a final investment decision, or decide a farm down upon the approval of the necessary environmental studies.

LNG operational, under-construction, and planned/proposed projects

Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) – operational

The USD $1.8 billion Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is a proposed 870 kilometre long natural gas pipeline that will run from Greece to Italy, via Albania and the Adriatic Sea. The TAP is part of the Southern Gas Corridor, a larger initiative that aims to bring natural gas from the Caspian Sea region to Europe, diversifying the continent’s energy supply and reducing its reliance on Russian gas.

Construction of the TAP began in 2016 and was completed in 2020. The pipeline has a total length of 878 kilometres and a capacity of 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year. The TAP is designed to connect with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) in Greece, which brings natural gas from the Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan. From there, the TAP runs through Greece, Albania, and the Adriatic Sea, before reaching the Italian coast near San Foca.

TAP is owned jointly by BP (20%), SOCAR (20%), Statoil (20%), Fluxys (16%), Total (10%), E.ON (9%), and Axpo Trading (5%). EGL Group, now known as Axpo Trading, and Statoil Hydro established a JV, which was followed by an agreement to develop, build and own the TAP project.

Revithoussa LNG Terminal – operational

The Revithoussa LNG Terminal is located on the islet of Revithoussa, in the gulf of Pachi at Megara, 45 kilometres west of Athens.

The terminal belongs among the 28 LNG terminals that operate today in the wider Mediterranean region and in Europe, and is the only one in Greece that receives LNG cargoes, temporarily stores and regasifies LNG, and supplies the National Natural Gas Transmission System.

With a storage capacity of 225,000 cubic metres of LNG and a regasification capacity of 1,400 cubic metres per hour as a Sustained Maximum Send out Rate, the Terminal is an important energy asset for Greece, providing security of energy supply, operational flexibility in the transmission system and increased capability to meet peak gas demand.

Gas Interconnector Greece- Bulgaria – operational

Gas Interconnector Greece–Bulgaria (IGB) is a natural gas pipeline from the Greek to the Bulgarian natural gas pipeline network; it became operational on 1 October 2022.

The 182 kilometre gas pipeline connects the gas transmission networks of Greece and Bulgaria at Komotini and Stara Zagora, and is Bulgaria’s direct connection to the TAP. Since October 2022, the full volumes of Azeri gas under the contract of the Bulgarian side with Azerbaijan are being imported from TAP via IGB.

The IGB has a total capacity of 3 billion cubic meters per year, with more than half already booked under long-term contracts of up to 25 years. At full capacity, the gas pipeline can provide almost all of Bulgaria’s winter consumption.

Alexandroupolis LNG Terminal – under-construction

Gastrade’s USD $378 million Alexandroupolis LNG Terminal is a project of strategic importance for the supply of the Greek and the South Eastern European (SEE) markets, satisfying the additional gas demand in the region. It is also an alternative supply route giving access to LNG supply to markets with limited supply options offering diversification of sources and routes of supply to Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia and the wider region.

The project comprises a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) with storage capacity of 153.500 cubic metres and a nominal regasification capacity of 5.5 billion cubic metres per year (peak of 22.5 million cubic metres per day), and the permanent infrastructure (mooring system, pipeline, etc.) which connects the FSRU to the Greek National Natural Gas Transmission system. The FSRU will be stationed approximately 17.6 kilometres southwest of the town of Alexandroupolis in northeast Greece at an offshore distance of approximately 10 kilometres from the nearest shore.

Thessaloniki FSRU – planned/proposed

In April 2022, Elpedison announced it was planning to install a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) offshore of Thessaloniki, and had submitted an application for a new independent natural gas system (INGS) license to Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE).

The Thessaloniki FSRU would connect to onshore and underwater pipelines with Elpedison’s power plants in Thessaloniki, one existing and one under design, as well as with existing pipelines in the area. Elpedison said it was targeting a 2025 start date, subject to approvals and a final investment decision, and the FSRU would be able to deliver up to 20 million cubic metres per day, which equates to 7.3 billion cubic metres per year.

Renewable operational, and under-construction, projects

Kozani Solar Park – operational

In April 2022, German renewable energy developer Juwi completed a 204MW solar plant with more than 500,000 Chinese JinkoSolar PV modules. The company said it is currently Europe’s largest bifacial solar park. Service and maintenance for the new plant will be delivered by Juwi on behalf of the owner, Hellenic Petroleum Company.

The Kozani project consists of 18 sites, covering an area of 4,500 acres. It is expected to deliver 320 million kWh per year, supplying electricity to more than 75,000 Greek households and saving 300 million tons of CO2 emissions.

Kafireas Wind Farm – operational

Enel Green Power’s Kafireas wind farm, which is located at the southern end of the island of Evia, is the biggest wind cluster in Greece. The project, which consists of 7 wind farms with a total of 67 wind turbines, has a total installed capacity of over 154.1MW.

The farm produces an average of 454 GWh per year, avoids an average of 318.9 metric tons per year, and has met energy needs of 57,982 households per year, with an average annual energy consumption of 11,880 kWh per home.

Mikronoros Wind Farm – operational

In June 2022, ​​Iberdrola commissioned the 33.6MW Mikronoros wind farm. With the entry into service of this facility, located in the province of Rodopi, the company brings its total installed wind power capacity in the country to 308MW. The plant, which has 8 V150 4.2MW wind turbines, each with a hub height of 105m and a rotor diameter of 150m, is capable of supplying clean energy to more than 34,000 homes. 

Askio III 1 Wind Farm – under-construction

Iberdrola began construction of the 50.4MW Askio III wind farm in April 2022  The wind farm will feature 12 wind turbines, each with 4.2MW of capacity, as well as 70m-long blades and a rotor diameter of 150m.

Hydrogen planned/proposed projects

Bluesky300 – planned/proposed

In September 2022, Hive Energy earmarked USD $246 million for the construction of a 200MW solar power plant in Greece with batteries, and a green hydrogen production unit. The government has awarded it the status of a flagship investment of exceptional importance, the first in the country.

Besides the 200MW solar power plant, Bluesky300 is planned to comprise lithium ion batteries with a combined 100MW in operating power and a 50MW electrolyzer for the production of 16 tons of green hydrogen per day. The photovoltaic segment will be in the form of a cluster of individual units.

The White Dragon – planned/proposed

The core of the USD 8.7 billion White Dragon project is based on the gradual replacement of the lignite power plants of West Macedonia and the transition to clean energy having as final goal the de-carbonization of the country’s energy mix. The project will use large-scale renewable electricity (GW) for the production of green hydrogen by electrolysis in Western Macedonia. 

Hydrogen will then be stored directly (short-term hydrogen storage) and indirectly (streaming through DESFA’s natural gas pipeline) and, subsequently, through high temperature fuel cells will provide the country’s power grid with electricity as a fixed base load cogeneration unit of green energy and heat. The generated heat, as a by-product of green electricity production, could initially have a complementary use to the district remote heating networks of West Macedonia, as well as in other applications that require heat and/or cooling in the future (industries, data centres, greenhouses, etc.).

TAP is interested in developing projects linked to the major White Dragon project, involving the country’s biggest energy groups with gas company DEPA Commercial as head coordinator, for a hydrogen producing facility in northern Greece’s lignite-dependent west Macedonia region, with the intention of transporting and exporting hydrogen to European markets through interconnections.

Moving forward

On 1-2 March 2023, Greek and international energy leaders will meet in Athens at the 8th Balkans Energy Summit, an IN-VR event that is endorsed by the Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Company (HEREMA), the Montenegro Hydrocarbons Administration (MHA), and the government of Romania. During the event, participants will discuss the Balkans’ strategic position in Eastern Europe where Asian, African, and European paths are crossed, holding the region’s hydrocarbon and renewables potential. This has led the region to become one of Europe’s strategic powerhouses and an important transportation corridor.

The event will gather dozens of delegates representing Ministries, NOCs, IECs, service and technology companies, legal and consulting firms, among others, all eager to learn more about the region’s scope, and discuss possible ways they can participate in the aforementioned prominent hydrocarbons and renewable projects in years to come.

The event will also explore how the Balkans can fuel Europe with enough energy resources to counter the crisis in the light of the Russia-Ukraine-NATO crisis. Participants will meet all the key regional stakeholders and projects that are transforming the future of the region.

About the Author: Felipe Gaitán Michelsen