“Not many people know that over-indebted Greece is an oil-producing country: although not a very big one, with only 2,000 barrels a day or 0.5% of its oil needs”, points out Le Monde which goes on to explain that Athens has decided to resume oil and gas exploration of reserves that have hitherto been disregarded.

“In recent months, the Greek government has launched calls for tender for exploration in three regions where surveys and seismic studies were conducted at the end of the 1990s — in Ioannina in the north-west region of Epirus close to the Albanian border, and in the Ionian Sea.”

Major oil companies have been in no rush to bid for these deposits which are estimated at between 50 and 100 million barrels. However —

… it’s the vast expanse of Greek waters close to Crete that is now the subject of high hopes following the discovery of gas in Israel and Cyprus. A Norwegian company Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) has recently been selected to conduct maritime seismic studies in a 220,000 square kilometre area, which should go on for 18 months.”

In another “rare piece of good news” for the crisis stricken country, “Greece is to become Europe’s leading gold producer”, reports La Tribune. Emphasising that Greece already has “major mining potential” (bauxite, perlite), the business daily explains that —

“... in 2016, Greece could become Europe’s leading gold producer, overtaking Finland, which is currently the 40th-ranked supplier worldwide”.

Paradoxical as it may seem, the main reason for the increase in production is the economic crisis which has led Athens to speed up the granting of mining concessions, and to set aside a policy that “was largely based on clientelism”. Now that they have been licensed, the projects proposed by two mining companies — Canadian based Eldorado Gold and Australia’s Glory Resources — are set to boost Greek gold production, which is expected “to soar from 16,000 ounces [1 ounce = 31.1g] in 2011 to 425,000 ounces by 2016”, while generating large numbers of jobs.