Kefalonia and Ithaca’s MP position on Hydrocarbon mining

Yesterday I was invited to submit to the Greek Parliament on draft laws on ratification of contracts signed by the previous government to grant research and exploitation rights to hydrocarbons in the greater Ionian and western Greece. I know that many of our compatriots in Kefalonia and Ithaca are concerned about this issue. The ratification of contracts is part of a wider program of research and potential exploitation of energy resources in our country. As you know, a similar contract had already been ratified for the western Patra Gulf, which directly relates to the prefecture of Kefalonia and Ithaca. Because of the five minutes of my speech in the House, I find it necessary to elaborate on the main reasons that form my point of view on this issue.

Environmental Protection

Environmental protection is the main issue that many of our fellow citizens in Kefalonia and Ithaca are concerned about, which I also had concerns about. However, the experiences of mining in Europe and Greece (Prinos) so far have been positive. EU countries are the global example of environmental protection and management. Particularly in the area of ​​Thassos and Kavala, after 40 years of exploration with outdated technologies, no accident has occurred, nor is there any evidence of deterioration of the marine ecosystem. In addition, the tourism industry in the region coexists harmoniously and is growing along with mining activity. In a related study in the Gulf of Patras it was found that marine mammals’ noise disturbance from hydrocarbon surveys, it is no larger than other activities, such as navigation or fish farming. In addition, international technological developments offer increasingly safe methods of exploration and extraction. Security will increase as technology evolves. Today, for every 170 deep wells, the leak at sea is just a barrel of oil. Of course we cannot rest on technological progress. For this reason, there is full institutional coverage of the critical aspect of environmental protection at three levels. At the first level are the environmental impact studies, which identify the potential hazards and specify the protection measures. Monitoring mechanisms, contingency plans, monitoring process (sampling, water and soil analyzes, seismic activity monitoring, etc.) and the framework for the cooperation of investment entities with state and European control services. At the second level it is well known that not only has a Strategic Environmental Impact Study been drawn up but additional environmental protection provisions have already been incorporated following the public consultation that preceded it. This is a process that must not be stopped in order to continually enrich the institutional framework, as is foreseen. At the third level, the environmental requirements set by the European Union are the most stringent internationally and there is no better framework for Greece. The Seveso I (82/501 / EEC) and Seveso II (96/82 / EC) Directives “on the prevention of industrial accidents” which harmonized Greek law, guarantee that Greece has already incorporated decades of institutional tradition for the safe management of a large industrial program, based on the know-how from Prinos mines. The latest revision, Seveso III (2012/18 / EU), is now in force, giving added weight to public information, access to justice, public consultation and inspections. In addition, the EU has adopted a special revised Directive “On the Safety of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations” (2013/30 / EU) which transfers responsibility for the prevention and restoration costs of the environment to the operator, inter alia. In the event of an immediate threat of environmental damage, or when damage is caused, the operator shall be obliged to take appropriate preventive or remedial measures. Directive 2013/30 / EU also provides that natural and legal persons who are affected or have a legitimate interest as well as civil society organizations in which a legitimate interest is recognized may apply to the competent authority for remedial action. These instructions are part of Greek law, they are accessible in Greek on the Internet and anyone can read them. I find it useful to have a strong public mechanism for continuous monitoring and observation of mining activities. The involvement of civil society and environmental protection organizations in this mechanism is necessary, not simply desirable. The same is desirable to happen in any area of ​​environmental protection. From illegal dumps and forest fires,

Earthquakes and mines

Regarding the seismicity of the region and the mines, Greece will not be the first country of great seismicity where mines are conducted at sea. Worldwide, international maritime accidents concern navigation accidents, material failures and poor compliance with safety protocols, not earthquake accidents. A continuous monitoring and risk assessment mechanism is provided for as long as the research and mining activity lasts as specified in the environmental impact study. Greece also has top-notch human resources, scientific bodies and know-how to observe seismic activity over time, and this advantage must be exploited.

Greece’s environment and international obligations Greece, due to its international obligations under the UN and the EU, is obliged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the basis of measurable targets. This will be achieved, inter alia, by the closure of polluting lignite combustion plants. An energy mix in which natural gas will be a major contributor to lignite in the next three decades is already a major step towards protecting our environment and contributing to the global effort. The Greek hydrocarbon research and potential exploitation program is a calculated part of a transitional process in which Greece will be non-negotiable in the global pioneer of environmental protection, as the Prime Minister has pointed out in the wake of the recent UN climate summit. We should also not overlook that there are strong social reactions to any form of energy production in Greece. Unfortunately no form of energy is completely “pure”. Even renewables have some environmental footprint, but also limited application in key sectors such as air transport and industry. No human activity has a zero footprint on the environment. There is always the factor of the catastrophic natural phenomenon. However, the main negative impacts of maritime extractions mainly concern the possibility of an accident. On the contrary, the damage to the environment and the health of the citizens from the existing energy production with the burning of lignite as a key element, is a given and everyday, not just accidents. Typical examples are the recent landslide of 80 million cubic meters in Amyntaio due to lignite mining, abandonment of settlements or projects with enormous environmental footprint such as diversions of large rivers to create hydroelectric dams.

National independence

Greece is today a country that needs to import energy to meet its needs. The same was true in the years of de-industrialization and economic crisis that we lived through. All energy produced in Greece, as well as our energy security, is based on the burning of low quality lignite, with serious implications for public health and the environment. However, Greece, in the context of its international environmental commitments, must gradually close its lignite plants in the coming years. As for gas and oil, we import almost 100% of the country’s needs, resulting in the financial burden of every Greek family as well as geopolitical dependencies. The dilemma is clear. Will we continue to import energy and indirectly strengthen countries with ‘gray’ geopolitical aspirations even at the expense of Greece, at an ever-increasing rate? In the post lignite era do we want a dependent country or an independent country? The answer is self-evident in this dilemma.

Energy Security

In the post-lignite era, based on the fact that there is still no technology that makes it a viable and safe energy mix based on 5 renewable energy sources, at least until 2050, we are called upon to find solutions. Solutions so that until then Greek families and businesses not only have electricity but also have it at competitive prices. In all scenarios by 2050, gas is a key player in the global energy mix. Large power plants are now being manufactured in Greece from imported natural gas. Those who believe that Greek energy resources should not be exploited must answer: Where will Greece get electricity after the lignite era? What kind of energy will fill the big gap in national production? What financial burden, conditions and what kind of dependency will this extra energy input have? Any response that exceeds national production and responds to the above (economically, environmentally and geopolitically) is welcome. I believe that there is no easy answer to these questions. National production is the safest option for the country. It goes without saying that Greece’s choice to utilize its energy resources if marketable quantities emerge from the surveys. Perpetuating gas imports means automatic budgetary burden and more expensive energy. environmental and geopolitical), is welcome. I believe that there is no easy answer to these questions. National production is the safest option for the country. It goes without saying that Greece’s choice to utilize its energy resources if marketable quantities emerge from the surveys. Perpetuating gas imports means automatic budgetary burden and more expensive energy. environmental and geopolitical), is welcome. I believe that there is no easy answer to these questions. National production is the safest option for the country. It is self-evident that Greece’s choice is to use its energy resources if marketable quantities emerge from the surveys. Perpetuating gas imports means automatic budgetary burden and more expensive energy.

Geopolitical dimension

Greece is going through a historic period in which it is called upon to defend its sovereign rights: in the eastern Mediterranean, in the Aegean, in the Libyan Sea. The choice of inaction, not exercising our rights in the Ionian Sea, weakens the international and internal credibility of our arguments for our rights that are being disputed in other maritime areas of Greece. Rights that concern not just hydrocarbons and the economy, but our own geopolitical survival. The cancellation of the energy program in the Ionian Sea and Crete paves the way for other countries to exploit the eastern Mediterranean reserves. Energy and its pipelines are not just economic or social goods. Unfortunately, they are even a means of geopolitically blackmailing one country from another.

Republic of Cyprus

The Cyprus energy program and its continuation is a matter of national sovereignty for the Republic of Cyprus. Its cancellation by the threat of violence by Turkey means abandoning Cyprus in Turkey’s moods. Cyprus’ national goal of harnessing its energy reserves and exporting energy to the EU is facilitated through synergies with other countries. A successful Greek energy program reinforces the economic viability of the Eastern Mediterranean region as an alternative energy supplier to the EU and consolidates the Eastern Mediterranean countries’ links and shared commitment to the methods Turkey uses for its goals. It is no coincidence that all the political forces of Cyprus support its energy program. In their honor,

The reality in the eastern Mediterranean

Research on the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean is a reality that now goes beyond Greece. Mining has been carried out on a large scale by Italy for several years. Croatia has launched a similar energy program. Similarly Montenegro and Albania. In the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt are destined to supply Europe with energy from their marine deposits. Turkey has launched its own offshore mining program. Lebanon and even Palestine have similar ambitions. Neighboring Libya is among the world’s 10 largest oil producers and has numerous offshore installations operating in the midst of a civil war. Even in the Black Sea, In the future, exploration and exploitation of large marine deposits is under way, as Romania and Bulgaria are preparing to do in already established marine deposits. If the Mediterranean Sea is in danger, it is certainly not of the high environmental standards of an EU country, such as Greece. Otherwise we will simply look like an isolated islet, 7 sharing the risk anyway, but with no profit for the country and its citizens.

Importance of oil for the national economy

As far as oil is concerned, it is a resource not only used for polluting energy and automobiles. Oil is the raw material for many elements of our material culture: building materials, cosmetics, inks, paints, plastics, pipes, agricultural products, fertilizers, detergents, aviation fuels, clothing, packaging, etc. Overall its range industrial production. We all use oil daily and in various ways, whatever we have in favor or against its extraction. Therefore oil is directly concerned with the country’s industrial production and economy over its entire range for many more years. It has been our own way of life for many decades, however much we hope to reduce its use today. I think we all agree that such a critical mineral resource,

Belief in our country and our abilities

In any case we are not called to ‘discover the wheel’. Of course there are negative examples of hydrocarbon exploitation, both at environmental and social level, especially in so-called ‘third world’ countries. But there are also good international practices, examples and countries with an appropriate institutional framework. There are countries that have based their development and strong welfare state on the proper environmental and social exploitation of their energy resources, such as Norway. I do not think that Greece should treat itself as a country of little denomination, unable to follow good international practices, doomed to set a negative example. A country incapable of believing in its own people’s ability. I believe that human resources,

  1. Energy as a prerequisite for ‘Generational Solidarity’

Finally, it is a given that we will deliver to the next generation a country with great and intractable problems. A country with a strong demographic problem. An insurance system in an endless search for resources. A pension system at its limits. A society in which workers will be fewer than those in retirement age or out of the labor market. A cost of perhaps hundreds of billions by 2050 for climate change adaptation policies and environmental protection. Hundreds of thousands of our unemployed and deported fellow citizens. A welfare state with huge funding gaps. Armed forces with great need in modern weapons systems to defend the national territory. I am not in politics to claim irresponsibly that the exploitation of our energy resources will turn Greece into a “Mediterranean Emirate” and solve the problems by magic. However, I cannot ignore that there are prospects of inflating serious revenue for the Greek State, which can be used to decisively alleviate the above problems. It is not enough for the country’s budget to be lightened by the financial burden we all bear on energy imports. An ambitious “Generations Solidarity Fund” with a focus on boosting social security from hydrocarbon revenues will help the next generation shape its future on its own terms, not those imposed by the country’s current restrictions. It’s a perspective I can’t deny in our country, citing the theoretical risk of an accident, whose minimum chances are gradually diminished with the development of technology and the revision of the institutional framework. It is time for the country to get out of its pessimistic problems without any prospect of a solution. It is time to seize the opportunities offered to her.

For all the above reasons, the ratification of the Conventions, but above all the subsequent research and the potential exploitation of our energy resources, I believe is a prerequisite for our national independence and security.

Panagis Kappatos,

Member of Kefalonia and Ithaca

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

error: Content is protected !!