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Hellenic Petroleum to submit offer for exploration rights in field 1 in northwestern Ionian Sea‏

Hellenic Petroleum will submit an offer in a tender for hydrocarbon exploration rights in field 1 in Northwestern Ionian Sea, which has raised doubts from Albanian authorities, Grigoris Stergioulis, chief executive of the Group said on Thursday.

Addressing a general shareholders' meeting, Stergioulis said that Hellenic Petroleum has discussed the issue of field 1 with the Foreign Affairs ministry and has decided to submit an offer -although it is not the most interesting project- to avoid any questioning of the country's territorial rights.

Efstathios Tsotsoros, chairman of the Group, addressing the shareholders' meeting expressed the group's full support to the families of the four workers who lost their lives during a fire accident "the worst accident in the company's history" as he noted. Referring to current developments, Tsotsoros said that completion of negotiations would limit uncertainty, although the measures currently discussed would possible affect economic growth.

Stergioulis said that with a euro-bond issue in 2014 Hellenic Petroleum is prepared to face any difficult situations and underlined the challenge of operating in international markets while the domestic banking system was facing liquidity problems.

Tsotsoros said the group's strategy envisages a further strengthening of export activities (Hellenic Petroleum already exports 50 pct of production), evolving into a significant energy group in Eastern Mediterranean, strengthening safety, raising retail market shares from 30 pct to 40 pct over the next five years. Domestic market losses total 42 pct since 2009.

Hellenic Petroleum plans to lower its debt by selling non-strategic participations by 2017.

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