Greece\'s energy ministry says it has picked Norway\'s Petroleum Geo-Services to conduct preliminary research for potential offshore oil and gas deposits south of Crete and off the western mainland. A ministry statement says it picked PGS out of 8 interested firms, and expects to sign a contract this month, AP reported. It is unclear to what extent Greece has exploitable offshore fossil fuel deposits. Such a find would be a major boon to the debt-crippled country. Wednesday\'s statement said the seismic research is expected to be finished by the end of this year, with data processing completed around July 2013. If the results are encouraging, companies will be invited to carry out systematic exploration and drilling. The research will cover some 87,000 square miles of seabed, extending up to 250 miles offshore.