In statements at a ceremony on Thursday for the signing of the Greek State's lease with the joint venture Exxon Mobil - Total - Hellenic Petroleum, which grants the consortium the right to carry out exploratory drilling and extract hydrocarbons in the sea west and southwest of Crete, Environment and Energy Minister George Stathakis said it was a "great day" for Greece.
According to Stathakis, the signing of the agreement "concludes a major cycle concerning hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation, with perhaps the most important of all the contracts being the one we have signed today."
"We all acknowledge that today's signature strengthens Greece's presence in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean and, after the finds in Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, there is already the formation, along with Greece, of a strong pole. We participate equally with other countries - Jordan , the Palestinian Authority and Italy - in order to have a permanent area of cooperation, exchange of views and joint initiatives for the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterrranean," he said.
He also referred to the benefits emerging from Thursday's contract, pointing out that these will be many for Greece and particularly for Crete. "Part of the state funding will be allocated directly to the region of Crete and this is very good for the universities. The Institute of Petroleum Research has already been founded on Crete and this development is totally aligned with the Greek plan for the climate and energy in 2030, which foresees a doubling of the renewable energy sources [share] at present, from 29 percent to 60 percent. A major part of the transition to RES is the possibility to access and use natural gas as transition fuel, which will stabilise the system."