It just so happened that the very same day that news about a Turkish-Libyan MOU to start EEZ delimitation negotiations was being digested by the Greek political class, the media and the chattering classes, the 3rd Balkan and East Med Energy Law Forum in Athens was putting some sobering facts on the table. For everybody really concerned to digest and to integrate in forward-looking policy-forming arguments.
The Forum was basically legal in its structure, but this served as a reminder of the extremely technical nature of the matter – even once energy resources are located and made technically available on the field, intricate legal set-ups have to be arranged and implemented, with internationally-prevailing standards constituting their basis. Fortunately enough, a core element of such legal practitioners looks formed in Greece – and operates in some co-ordination with pubic authorities, involved in licencing of the energy circuit (from hydrocarbon exploration to energy storage and transmission).
If this sounds quite positive, the data that Yannis Bassias – of the HHRM/Hellenic Hydrocarbon Resources Management – provided concerning the facts of hydrocarbon exploration perspectives South-West of Crete were sobering enough. For one, geophysical configurations may well show some affinities to the formations that have created the EastMed phenomenon after Zohr (and brought the oil-and-natural-gas majors to the region) – but starting exploration once more precise information is obtained is a process that might well take 3-5 years. While the timeline for effective drilling after an initial finding is made is some further years away.
On the other hand, since pipelines and underground gas storage an FSRU/regasification was being discussed, Maria Spyraki brought – as Euro MP, closely monitoring European evolutions under the new “clean energy” credo of Brussels – an equally sobering fact to the attention of Forum participants. If the EIB, that is the source of much of the financial resources needed for large-scale energy projects, sticks by the emerging principle of “no support to greenhouse gas-producing or -connected projects”, then a dangerously large proportion of projects on the drawing board risks being starved of cash.
This, notwithstanding the fact that natural gas is understood to be the main transition fuel to the carbon-free future ardently discussed in Brussels under the von der Leyen Commission.