Greece Vows to Impose Strict Environmental Criteria for Drilling Off Crete



Greece is set to impose strict environmental criteria for oil and gas drilling off Crete, high-ranking officials assured the public following Thursday’s agreement with multiple petroleum companies to research and exploit natural resources there.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras assured reporters during the press conference which took place after the signing that “the application of the strictest environmental protection legislation globally” will define every step of the project.

Greece signed a formal agreement this week with the oil and gas companies ExxonMobil, Total and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation.

Environment and Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis said that the development of renewable energy sources is entirely congruent with the Greek plan calling for the doubling of the use of renewables from the current 29 percent to 60 percent by 2030.

Regarding the strict environmental controls for the Cretan project, Stathakis also promised that the following measures will be enforced:

– There will be obligatory environmental studies for every phase;

– A specialized environmental unit will serve as coordinating link between local societies, observatories and public services;

– Seismic research will be conducted under a detailed framework of marine environmental protection, signed off by the Ministry of Environment before initiating any action;

– Observation in full of obligations and of terms of inter-country agreements signed by Greece, such as that of ACCOBAMS on the protection of cetaceans;

– An environmental benchmark report is being drawn up which will need to be submitted with the annual project programming;

– The “Hydrocarbon Observatory” will also be present at every production session.

With all of these measures already agreed upon, Prime Minister Tsipras reiterated to reporters that “We are going ahead with respect and responsibly towards the environment and the future generations.”