A new study commissioned by Antonis Samaras vindicates The Slog’s engineering sources, who have long said that Greece’s undersea wealth was being deliberately understated

I was told categorically during 201o that American engineers working for previous Greek governments had deliberately understated the energy and rare earths potential beneath Greece’s territorial waters. An entirely different but equally qualified source told me the following year that the EU was fully aware of the ploy. Ever since then, The Slog has consistently maintained that, behind the demands of the Troika, a tussle was going on between the US and the EU as to who could benefit most from the country’s mineral and energy potential. Now a new study strongly supports that view.

Greece has “at least” $600 billion worth of gas and oil reserves beneath its territorial waters, according to a new study presented to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras within the last few months. Reuters has also confirmed the story.

Collating all the scientific data available, the study says geological similarities indicate that reserves off Crete alone should match the prolific Levantine Basin, the Israeli and Cypriot discoveries mainly are. Estimates suggest that to the south of Crete lie a minimum of 3.5 trillion cubic metres (tcm) of gas – apparently enough to cover around six years of EU demand. The site almost certainly has roughly 1.5 billion barrels of oil in addition to the gas find.

“We feel this is a very conservative figure,” said Elias Konofagos, whose Athens-based company advises the Samaras government on energy. The two other authors of the report, Antonis Foscolos and Nikos Lygeros, agreed that subsea methane emissions – and the presence of gas hydrate mounds on the seabed – indicated the presence of large reservoirs.

A study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering in June in turn estimated that Greece had 4 tcm of gas and a further 3 billion barrels of crude oil at other sites. And one of the world’s biggest seismic surveyors, Petroleum Geo-Physical (PGS), also wrote in July 2011 of ‘significant hydrocarbon potential’ beneath the Greek waves.

As well as offering ClubMed economies the chance to cut deficits caused by energy shortfalls, the growing evidence of Greek offshore wealth reduces the EU dependence on Russian gas in general – and the gangsters from Gazprom in particular. It also explains the desire of Israel to form an energy alliance with Greece and Cyprus…and the original American plan to ‘amputate’ Greece from the EU, befriend the country, and shower it with aid. What Washington (as ever) hasn’t taken into account is that most Greeks would rather chew glass than be under US hegemony.

Related: Oil prices, and the role of energy in US foreign policy