Greece will conclude the evaluation of deep-sea oil and gas exploration bids in the coming weeks and will name the preferred bidders soon after, its energy minister
said on Friday, as the country seeks to tap into its limited oil reserves.
Plunging crude oil prices have
cut spending on oil projects around the world but cash-strapped Greece is pushing ahead with investment in the industry in a bid to reduce dependence on oil imports and boost public finances.
"We are evaluating three bids made by oil companies whose financial strength, experience and infrastructure ensure they are in a position to successfully perform gas and oil exploration and production," Energy Minister Panos Skourletis said.
Skourletis said the evaluation of the business and technical offers was expected to be wrapped up "in the coming weeks."
Officials have said that France
's Total in a consortium with Greece's biggest oil refiner, Hellenic Petroleum , and Italy's Edison have bid for one offshore gas drilling block in the west of Greece.
Hellenic Petroleum has also bid independently for two other blocks in the Ionian Sea.
Skourletis encouraged oil companies to invest in Greece and said they should not be scared off by low oil prices and technical difficulties created by its landscape.
Energean Oil & Gas, 45 percent owned by hedge fund Third Point, is the sole oil producer in Greece. The company and Hellenic Petroleum jointly with Italy's Edison are exploring gas and oil in three onshore and offshore blocks in western Greece.
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)