DEPA, Shell, ENI in intensive talks for retail market solution

DEPA, the public gas corporation, and local retail gas business partners Shell and ENI, holders of respective 49 percent stakes in the EPA Attiki and EPA Thessaly-Thessaloniki ventures, are currently in the midst of intensive talks over the future of their collaborations, sources have informed.

Consensus needs to be reached within the first 15 days of October but common ground has yet to be found. Numerous proposals have so far been discussed, including stock swaps, DEPA’s withdrawal from certain posts and a stronger hold of others, as well as a division of the EPA companies based on the current shares held by the partners.

The country’s lenders have already rejected a road map on needed Greek gas market reforms, including the future role of DEPA, currenly omnipresent. Authorities are now focusing on the  changes required in DEPA’s partnerships with Shell and Eni.

DEPA’s role and level of participation in Greece’s wholesale, distribution and, primarily, retail gas markets, is a core issue.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, who discussed the issue yesterday with European Commissioner for Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, recommended a certain degree of leniency in the talks with lenders for the achievement of the best possible solution.

The lenders have called for the delivery of a road map by the end of this year detailing gas market reforms aiming to end current conditions that are stifling competition. This road map demand has been included in the revised bailout agreement. Though the demands are currently vague, the lenders are essentially applying pressure for DEPA to reduce its widespread market presence.

Greek officials, striving to protect DEPA’s market value and ensure compensation for any retreats, also want the corporation to remain a retail market player, even if in a revised form.

Shell and ENI are also seeking compensations for the premature ends to their regional monopolies in the EPA Attiki and EPA Thessaly-Thessaloniki ventures established with DEPA. An agreement had been reached for these monopolies to last until 2030. Shell has valued the loss of the regional monopoly granted to EPA Attiki, serving the wider Athens area, at approximately 100 million euros. This amount would be split with DEPA, its partner in the venture.