BY DAILY SABAH WITH AP
Exxon Mobil will start a delayed gas prospecting project off southwestern Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Monday amid tensions between Greece and Türkiye over offshore rights.
The U.S. energy giant will start seismic exploration “in the coming days” southwest of the southern Peloponnese peninsula and the island of Crete, Mitsotakis told private Antenna TV.
Critics highlight the potential risk of spills, and say the project, if successful, would increase Greece’s use of fossil fuels amid the planet’s climate change crisis while underlining that it would have consequences on endangered Mediterranean whales and dolphins.
Mitsotakis insisted Monday that Greece remains dedicated to “fast green transition.” But he added: “Our country … must ascertain whether it currently has the ability to produce natural gas, which would contribute not only to our own energy security but also to that of Europe.”
Meanwhile, Greece and Türkiye are at loggerheads over offshore exploration rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, and Turkish prospecting east of Crete in 2020 prompted a military build-up and bellicose rhetoric.
In 2019, Greece granted rights for exploration – which, however, didn’t go ahead – in two blocks of seabed south and southwest of the island of Crete to a consortium of TotalEnergies and Exxon Mobil with Greece’s Hellenic Petroleum.
The areas include the Mediterranean’s deepest waters. The Hellenic Trench, at 5,267 meters (17,300 feet) is a vital habitat for the sea’s few hundred sperm whales, and for other cetaceans already threatened by fishing, collisions with ships and plastic pollution.
Türkiye, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims made by European Union members Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Türkiye and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Both sides cite a range of decades-old treaties and international agreements to support their conflicting territorial claims.