DEPA cutting natural gas prices further, industry to benefit

Driven by the continuing fall of oil and gas prices in the international market, DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, has decided to reduce natural gas prices by 3.2 percent for the four-month period covering November, 2015 to February, 2016.

Part of this reduction is expected to be passed on to the price levels offered by the country’s three EPA gas supply companies operating in the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki, and Thessalia.

DEPA, which holds 51 percent stakes in all three EPA gas supply companies, informed them, just days ago, of its decision to lower prices. Subsequently, the EPA companies are now expected to announce their revised pricing policies over the next few weeks.

The industrial sector is expected to benefit most from this latest price reduction. Households will benefit less as the colder weather fades away with the arrival of spring.

DEPA is expected to further reduce its prices in the months ahead, assuming international gas and oil prices remain low and the euro-dollar exchange rate remains stable.

The latest DEPA price reduction to soon come into effect is the corporation’s third successive rate drop over the past year. DEPA reduced its gas prices by three percent for a four-month period early in 2015, while a 2.9 percent reduction followed for the ensuing four-month period before this latest drop. The total reduction over the 12-month period amounts to 9.1 percent. DEPA resets its prices every four months.

Following last summer’s gas market liberalization for the industrial sector, the EPA gas supply companies can take part in auctions without having to fear any take-or-pay penalties.

At this stage, the main priority of the EPA gas supply companies is to increase the number of consumers connected to existing gas networks. The EPA Athens company’s market penetration stands at 30 percent, while its long-term plan is to increase this figure to 60 percent by 2030.

The gas supplier is pushing for the continuation of an EU subsidy program (NSRF) over the next four to five years to help consumers convert their heating systems to gas.

Contrary to the natural gas price drops, electricity tariffs in Greece remain unchanged. Though the main power utility PPC faces a different set of problems, the main one being its poor cash flow as a result of the alarming level of unpaid overdue power bills owed by consumers, the gas price drops in Greece are applying increasing pressure on PPC to follow suit. Solving the arrears problem at PPC is needed if electricity prices are to fall, the energy minister Panos Skourletis reminded just yesterday.