After six years of recession and economic contraction, Greece have set their sights on a long-awaited start to recovery, including an energy push that promises new exploration efforts and an expansion of existing projects. However, Athens’ push has been weighed down by economic realities, making the country’s energy aspirations an elusive goal.
To start with, Greece’s promotion efforts have recently been undercut by contradictory forecasts by international observers like the OECD. After predicting the first positive growth forecasts in nearly six years, Athens was faced with an OECD report predicting further contraction in the year ahead and possibly even further bailout packages.
“The need for further assistance to achieve fiscal sustainability cannot be excluded,” the report said, according to the BBC.” If negative macroeconomic risks materialise… serious consideration should be given to further assistance to achieve debt sustainability.”
It’s against this backdrop that Greece is attempting to sell itself as a viable option for foreign investors, which is vital to the country’s ability to kickstart a domestic energy sector.
“They need to overcome a trust gap,” said Costas Mitropoulos, executive director at PwC at an event organized by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce exploring the country’s recovery and economic potential in Athens this week.
Government officials responded by saying the pace of regulatory reform is putting them on track for a strong recovery, well in line with the demands of international partners and lenders, including the International Monetary Fund.
If they are able to close that gap in the months ahead, Greece has a number of energy sector projects that would benefit from an increase in FDI, most importantly a push to open up exploration efforts in offshore areas of the country.
Building on enthusiasm surrounding a broader Eastern Mediterranean gas effort and a U.S. Geological Society report that suggested Greek waters could be home to billions of barrels of oil, energy actors are now seizing on a new study from Norway’s Petroleum Geo-Services. The study detailed a seismic survey of an area in the Ionian Sea that shared geological features of earlier hydrocarbon discoveries.
The study was hailed by Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yannis Maniatis at a conference in early November to representatives of international energy firms, including Chevron, Eni, ExxonMobil, Gazprom, OMV, RWE, Shell and Petronas, according to the UPI.