The hottest plays of the European Region – both established and emerging – will be in the spotlight in Athens this month as geologists from around the world gather for an historic conference.
The first-ever joint AAPG-AAPG European Region Energy Conference and Exhibition will take place Nov. 18-21 at the Megaron Athens International Conference Centre, featuring 228 oral papers in five concurrent sessions and 120 full-day posters.
The theme is “Challenge Our Myths,” and the technical program is intended to produce not just comprehensive information but surprises and even some controversy.
It also will showcase Europe’s and the Circum-Mediterranean’s hottest activities, with entire sessions devoted to the geology, exploration and development of:
- West Africa deepwater activity.
- The Black Sea .
- The Caspian Sea.
- North Africa.
- Norwegian Barents Sea.
- The North Sea.
You can add the host country to that list because Greece, while not a major player among the world’s energy producers, still offers a setting of intriguing geology, exploration potential and current activity.
Greece, according to Business Monitor International, has a partly privatized energy sector operating under European Union guidelines. It has a small upstream oil and gas segment involving domestic and non-Greek companies. Downstream oil is dominated by partly state-owned Hellenic Petroleum, with some international oil company involvement.
The gas and power sectors are heavily state influenced.
A Greek Primer
Additional insight into Greece’s activity will come in the several papers and posters planned for Athens, including Stefanos Xenopoulos’ (with co-author Nikolas Roussos) paper “Status of Existing and Possible New Production in Greece.”
Hydrocarbon production in Greece, according to Xenopoulos, takes place only in the North Aegean Sea, offshore Kavala, from three fields – two producing oil and one producing natural gas.
Two of these three fields, Prinos and South Kavala started production in 1981 and the third one, Prinos North, in 1996. In total around 120 million BOE have been produced in the area.
Exploration/delineation work in the same area has resulted in a fourth still undeveloped discovery. Other exploration in the Kavala Gulf produced oil signs but limited development.
Exploration work in other regions has resulted in two oil and gas discoveries – both in the 1980s by Hellenic Petroleum:
- In the West Katakolon discovery, oil and gas have been produced from two wells respectively drilled off West Peloponnesus in the Ionian Sea very close to shore.
- In the onshore Epanomi gas discovery, close to Thessaloniki in northern Greece, natural gas has been produced from two wells.
Despite the positive results there are no current plans for development.
Several other papers in Athens will deal with Greece’s geology, activity and petroleum potential, including:
Nickos Rigakis’ paper “The Petroleum Generation Potential of Greece.”
Greek geological provinces are separated into eastern post-orogenic basins with Tertiary clastic sediments and western thrust fold belts with Mesozoic carbonates, Rigakis and co-authors Konstantinos Nicolaou and Nikolas Roussos state in their abstract.
The most-explored eastern basins are W. Thrace, Prinos, Thermaikos and Grevena. Hydrocarbon source rocks have been identified within Miocene and Upper Eocene clastics, rich in TOC and organic matter. The expected hydrocarbons are both oil and gas.
In western Greece, four source horizons in the Mesozoic sequence of Ionian zone have been identified. The best source is the Posidonia beds, Lower Toarcian age rich in organic matter of marine origin. Very good source horizons have been identified within the Triassic sediments, while shales of Albian-Cenomanian age are potential sources in eastern Ionian. All these sources are capable of producing oil.
The oil window is “quite deep” in the central parts of the western basins and shallower in the east, due to higher geothermal gradient.
Minas Kapnistos’ paper “Hydrocarbon Exploration in Western Greece” (with Nicolaou, Evangelos Kamperis and Fedon Marnelis) is more specific about the region’s four geological provinces:
The external Hellenides thrust fold belt, which is both offshore and onshore. Expected reservoirs are the upper Cretaceous and Eocene fractured carbonates and breccias.
Subsalt plays have been identified under the Mesozoic series at depths ranging between four and five kilometers. These structures are undrilled, but considered promising exploration targets.
The Apulia-Adriatic foreland, a frontier exploration region covering the deep waters in northwest Ionian Sea. Possible hydrocarbon plays are thought to be related with faulted block structures, slope deposits and reefal build-ups.
These plays, not yet explored, are analogous to several fields discovered offshore Italy, such as Rospo and Aquilla.
The Neogene post-orogenic basins, located in the Ionian Sea, have promising hydrocarbon potential in Miocene clastic reservoirs.
Traps related with diapiric movements of the Triassic evaporites and strike-slip faults have been identified.
The Hellenic continental margin, where studies indicate exploration potential within the Miocene turbidites and slope deposits.