“The Industry Welcomes Government Collaboration, as Geology Doesn’t Respect National Borders” – Balkans and the Adriatic Oil & Gas Summit

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The 3rd Balkans and the Adriatic Oil & Gas 2014 Summit highlighted that there is significant interest from the oil industry in the entire region, as well as in each country individually. More than 200 energy stakeholders arrived in Athens to participate in this high level Summit hosted by IRN in Hotel Grande Bretagne.

Cross-country Government cooperation in the Balkans energy sector was the key topic throughout the 3rd edition of Balkans and the Adriatic Oil & Gas Summit, which took place on 1st-3rd October 2014 in Athens. “The Oil and gas industry welcomes Government collaboration, as geology doesn’t respect national borders,” a senior IOC Executive commented during a Q&A session.

Furthermore, the Balkans' geology is very promising according to Dr. Neil Hodgson, Geoscience Director at Spectrum ASA. Hodgson also emphasised the reasons why this region is currently one of the most fascinating oil and gas frontiers in the world.

The TAP project currently promotes Balkan countries as excellent energy transit territories; however, regional Governments plan to have a more leading role in the gas market, upgrading their status to energy hubs by developing also their upstream sector.

The 3rd Balkans and the Adriatic Oil & Gas 2014 Summit highlighted that there is significant interest from the oil industry in the entire region, as well as in each country individually. More than 200 energy stakeholders arrived in Athens to participate in this high level Summit hosted by IRN in Hotel Grande Bretagne.

The Balkans Summit featured an opening speech by the Greek Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Dr. Yannis Maniatis, who highlighted that it was the third year that the Ministry actively participated in the Summit. Minister Maniatis stated that he believes it’s crucial for Balkan countries to support regional energy cooperation initiatives. He also elaborated on the Greek hydrocarbon developments, presenting how the Ministry has just signed the environmental appraisal approval for TAP and that there is a plan to increase the energy infrastructure in Greece, including the LNG terminal capacity.

The Head of the Minister’s Cabinet (and Legal Advisor), Alexandra Sdoukou, as well as George Tsifoutidis, Engineering Geologist in the Ministry’s Petroleum Directorate, added to the Minister’s speech by releasing some very-much-anticipated details on the “Greece Mega Project” - an international tender launched and signed by the Minister, offering 20 blocks offshore South and West Greece. The Ministry took into account 50 factors prior to designing the blocks, explaining the high interest from oil companies, particularly in the licensed area as Minister Maniatis stated in his speech.

Greek oil operators that have recently been awarded new licensing areas, Hellenic Petroleum and Energean Oil & Gas, also shared their experience of operating in Greece. Hellenic Petroleum’s Deputy General Manager, Yannis Grigoriou, presented on their experience in Greece and abroad. HELPE has just acquired a license for a block in Patraikos field, in joint venture with international partners. Grigoriou highlighted that although negotiations took quite a long time, the company and their partners were eventually very pleased with the results and the broadminded approach of the Greek Ministry of Energy.

The Chairman for the first day, Dorian Ducka, Albanian Deputy Minister of Energy and Industry, facilitated interactive dialogue between Government Officials and senior level representatives from the industry. Deputy Minister Ducka opened the Albanian Section at the Summit with a Keynote speech, followed by Dr. Dritan Spahiu, Director for Hydrocarbons’ Policies and Development, who gave a summary of the E&P history in Albania and the recent oil discovery by a major IOC.

According to Mr. Spahiu, the Ministry’s strategy is to increase oil production within the coming years, to allow an effective exploitation of existing crude oil reserves. The Ministry, together with the National Agency of Natural Resources (AKBN) will start competitive procedures very soon in order to award available blocks. Considering that the rest of Western Balkan countries have proceeded with licensing rounds, it’s particularly interesting to see Albania holding an open door competition. The Government will be receiving offers from interested parties whilst giving the opportunity for more bidders to apply their offers within a 90 day timeframe.

The Patos Marinza field, located in Albania, is of vital importance for Europe’s energy security. Discovered in 1927, it reached peak production in the 60’s and is still the largest onshore field in the continent, with 5.2 billion barrels of crude oil yet to be produced. Mark Hodgson, Business Development Vice President and Deputy General Manager for Bankers Petroleum in Albania, gave an insightful presentation on the Patos Marinza field, which the company operates. Hodgson focused on how Bankers Petroleum has invested in an impressive brownfield development in Patos Marinza, being the largest E&P Company in Albania.

The President of the Croatian Hydrocarbons Agency, Barbara Doric, opened the second day of the Summit with a presentation focusing on the two ongoing licensing rounds in Croatia. It was only two years ago that the country realised that the oil and gas potential was very much unexploited. Croatia worked in cooperation with neighbouring Governments and prepared the terms for current licensing rounds. Ms. Doric, answering a question from the audience, stated that so far “more than 40 oil and gas companies of all sizes from all over the world have expressed their interest in the bidding round”. Although the Croatian E&P sector is in a developing phase, the oil and gas infrastructure is very developed, featuring a number of modern refineries and a good pipeline system, also highlighted by the country’s gas operator, Plinacro.

INA’s Exploration Director, Lilit Cota, showed to the audience the value that INA can add in the new exploration phase for Croatia, by discussing INA’s long presence in the Croatian E&P sector.

With Montenegro currently evaluating offers received for their first bidding round, Vladan Dubljevic, General Director for Mining and Geological Research at the Ministry of Economy of Montenegro spoke about future developments in the sector. Mr. Dubljevic explained that the Government is very satisfied with the results, and announced that Montenegro plans to open the remaining territory for reconnaissance licenses within the first half of 2015.

Trans-Adriatic Pipeline’s Commercial and Finance Director, Dr. Lutz Landwehr, gave an overview of the project’s developments, explaining recent changes in the board of stakeholder companies. He also pointed that he was very pleased to say that the South Caucasus Pipeline, the first part of the three-part pipeline project, launched in September 2014. He also mentioned that the final investment decision is expected by the end of 2014.

During the course of the two day Summit, interesting presentations were also delivered by the Executive Director of the National Agency of Natural Resources (AKBN), Dael Dervishi; EPE’s Vice President Global Development, Athanassios Polychronopoulos; GEF’s Chairman, Alexandros Lagakos; Energean Oil & Gas’s Senior Advisor, Dr Konstantinos Nikolaou; and Avraam Zelilidis, Geology Professor who also chaired the second day of the event.

Spectrum ASA, the company that acquired seismic data onshore and offshore Croatia and Italy, co-hosted an enlightening and well-received post-summit workshop on the oil and gas prospects of the Adriatic Sea with Ministries of Economy of Montenegro and Croatia.

The 3rd Balkans and the Adriatic Oil & Gas Summit was sponsored by Bankers Petroleum, EPE, NRC, Spectrum, Weatherford, Aggreko, Phoenix Technology Services and ATP Instone. The Petroleum Club of Romania, the Romanian Committee of the World Energy Council, the Romanian Energy Centre and the Albanian Energy Association were supporters of the forum. IRN also worked with the “The Smile of the Child”, a foundation that does extensive work across the whole Balkan region and listed them as the Official Charity Partner for the Summit.

More information about the Summit is available on the website http://www.balkanssummit.com.

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Xenia Sapanidi
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