Even though Greece may be close to bankruptcy and suffering from austerity measures plus a multi-year depression, the country may have resources that could see its fortunes rise in the future.
A study given to the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras estimates natural gas reserves off the south coast of Crete at around $600 billion U.S. The reserves are estimated to be 3.5 trillion cubc meters of gas. This amount would meet six years of European Union gas demand and is the equivalent of about 1.5 billion barrels of oil.
Development of the resources may be far in the future, but Greece has already launched a round of licensing. Greece is desperate to raise money to satisfy creditors and is selling off many government resources are fire sale prices.
The government commissioned a seismic survey which will attempt to pin down the size of the deposits. Results of the survey are expectedby the middle of 2013.
The recent study was authored by Antonis Foscolos, Elias Konofagos and Nikos Lygeros who said the expected return on the reserves to the state would be $599 billion over 25 years. Konofagos said:"We feel this is a very conservative figure." In the past, Foscolos had worked at the Canadian Geological Survey and was professor at the Technical Univerity of Crete.
Another study in the Journal of Environmental Science last June estimates that Greece has 4 Tcm of natural gas and a further 3 billion barrels of oil as reserves. At present, Greece spends 5% of GDP just on energy imports. Development of these resources would remove this huge cost to the Greek economy. The country would save huge amounts in energy costs.
However much more detailed work needs to be done to confirm the deposits. With all this potential wealth Greece could become a tranit hub for gas exports to the rest of Europe. Geologists, caution that the estimates alone do not mean that much, only drilling can determine the facts about the estimated reserves.
Poland had to slash overly optimistic estimates of the wealth it would received from shale gas. Early estimates had led Poland to think that it could be self-sufficient in energy but now that seems no longer possible. For more see this article.