Greece approves licences for searching hydrocarbons off Crete

The Greek parliament on Thursday has ratified two authorisations for offshore oil and gas drilling in the Aegean, Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) reported.

Greece on Thursday awarded licences to U.S. energy conglomerate ExxonMobil and French multinational Total to explore and extract hydrocarbons off the island of Crete, AMNA said.

The exploitation of natural gas resources has been a source of tension in the eastern Mediterranean since last year, as all parties have stepped up their gas exploration and drilling efforts.

Turkey sees the current situation in the eastern Mediterranean as another contravention of its rights and interests since Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone overlaps with its own claim to areas on its continental shelf. It says drilling by Cyprus and its international partners ignores the rights of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Turkey has flexed its naval muscles to prevent survey and drilling ships from entering both the area it claims is on its continental shelf and the blocks licensed by the Northern Cyprus administration. 

Meanwhile, tensions between Greece and Turkey over disputed waters in the Aegean have heightened this year. Mock dogfights between jets of the two countries’ air forces have increased, while coast guard ships and other vessels have been on a power trip around Aegean islets.