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From Foreland to Forearc in Greece – New Opportunities for Offshore Hydrocarbon Exploration


Exploration efforts in Greece are strongly gaining momentum. In the second half of 2014, YPEKA (Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change) is expected to announce an international licensing round for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation. The database available for the license round will be 12,500 km of new regional 2D broadband seismic and gravity-magnetic data offshore western and southern Greece, in addition to 9,000 km of reprocessed legacy seismic data and a number of wells.

The broadband data set allows the interpreter a clearer image of the subsurface with particular reference to imaging of the Mesozoic carbonate succession, resolving structures deeper in the section and an exceptional fine resolution of the shallow clastic intervals. The offshore Greece area exhibits a broad variety of sedimentary basins. These basins are associated with a series of different structural settings. They range from the forearc succession south of Crete, comprising the Hellenic trench system, up to the outermost part of the fold-and-thrust belt of the External Hellenides in western Greece and the corresponding foreland. The latter is mainly underlain by the westward overthrusted Apulian platform.

In and around Greece, numerous petroleum systems are proven, and indications for additional ones, such as oil shows and seeps are promising. The External Hellenides are proven to be prospective for hydrocarbons in fractured Cretaceous to Paleogene limestones in Albania and there has also been success in Greece with the Katakolon oil discovery. The Italian and Albanian sectors of the Apulian platform host oil and gas discoveries in a number of plays, which are associated with the large Apulian platform carbonate system. Fractured, karstified and/or resedimented Cretaceous limestones provide the reservoirs for these discoveries. Hydrocarbons are generally reported to be generated from Triassic and Jurassic organic rich layers, while the Katakolon oil specifically points towards multiple source rocks (Jurassic/Cretaceous). Regional sealing is provided by the thick overlying clastic Mio-Pliocene and locally an Oligocene succession, which in addition offers potential for biogenic gas plays as have been discovered offshore Italy and Albania.