A Court of First Instance in Kavala, northern Greece, has imposed stricter payment conditions on ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals) for bank checks used by the industrial firm to cover DEPA (Public Gas Corporation) gas bills as a means of ensuring continued natural gas supply to the enterprise’s facilities in the northern city. ELFE’s overdue payments are believed to have now exceeded 106 million euros.
The court’s decision is temporary. A final ruling is expected in two months. ELFE took legal action seeking security measures that would enable continued gas supply.
The court’s preliminary decision essentially upholds a ruling issued on July 11 with certain revisions. As a result, ELFE maintains the right to continue prepayments of weekly natural gas consumption with postdated checks as long as these checks are issued by ELFE customers, not the company itself or related companies.
During yesterday’s hearing, ELFE’s legal team contended that DEPA is exploiting its dominant market position to impose elevated natural gas tariffs on the industrial enterprise. ELFE would be forced to shut down its facilities if DEPA ceased supplying the enterprise with natural gas as it would not have any other supply alternatives, the ELFE legal team claimed.
DEPA officials countered the argument, noting that the natural gas market is now liberalized, making other supply options available. DEPA warned that it could no longer take on the business risk of assuring ELFE’s continued operations as a result of the company’s growing arrears.