DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, has lost over eight percent of its retail market share, according to energypress sources, as recent gas market reforms that have come into effect have prompted shifts by major consumers, primarily industrial enterprises, to private-sector suppliers.
The corporation’s market share decline has severely restricted DEPA’s profit performance. The corporation now is more dependent on the profitability of ventures in which it maintains interests, such as DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, and the regional EPA gas supply companies operating in the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki, and Thessalia.
Rival suppliers as well as major industrial consumers have begun purchasing gas amounts at auctions which DEPA must stage, as a result of the gas market reforms. Gas amounts are offered at low prices at these auctions as part of the gas release agreement, offering rival suppliers and major consumers access to natural gas at import-cost levels, plus DEPA’s handling costs. Efforts are being made to increase the amount of natural gas offered through the DEPA auctions.
DEPA officials have admitted rival suppliers are making considerable impact on the market. In response, the corporation is setting up a team to intensify the corporation’s sales campaign through closer contact with consumers.
“We may have become somewhat detached from the market, which is why we are losing customers,” noted Theodoros Kitsakos, DEPA’s recently appointed chief executive officer, who added that DEPA operates in a less agile fashion than its competitors. For example, DEPA offers consumers a 70-page document as a contract to be signed, compared to a more concise version of just several pages presented by rivals, he noted.
Restrictions imposed on DEPA as a result of its dominant market position have, in some cases, led to competitive disadvantages for the corporation. “Private-sector suppliers may offer any price they wish to consumers, whereas, if we want to hold on to customers by offering better prices, these need to be applied to entire categories,” Kitsakos said.
The regional EPA supply companies, far more agile operations, have adjusted their sales policies amid the new conditions and, so far, managed to hold on to virtually all existing customers.
DEPA plans to soon announce a new pricing policy for 2016.