A surprise collaboration is apparently in the offing between Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and the Spanish energy company Repsol for hydrocarbons exploration in Greece’s ‘Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) blocks in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete.

The new alliance is raising questions, given Repsol’s collaboration with Energean Oil and Gas in a drilling block in the area of Ioannina, northern Greece. A 60 percent stake in Energean had been ceded to Repsol under the terms of that contract.

Another factor is that Hellenic Petroleum is in a court battle with Energean over seismic exploration in the Prinos basin.

Energean competed with ELPE also for the land block of Arta-Preveza, which ELPE won.

The deadline for expressing an interest under the terms of the international call in the three sea zones (two near Crete and one in the Ionian Sea) was today at 5pm.

If the reports of the ELPE-Repsol collaboration are confirmed, that will be a blow to Energean.

However, there may be a broader cooperation in the works.

ELPE is expected to bid on the two blocks near Crete in collaboration with ExxonMobil and Total. ENI has also expressed an interest and has bought the seismic data.