DEPA, Shell, Eni united amid retail gas market talks

The country’s three gas supply companies (EPA) operating in the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki, and Thessalia, in the mid-northeast, have established a common overall policy in their ongoing negotiations with the government as a compensation solution is sought for the prospective end of their respective regional retail market monopolies.

The end of the monopoly is being demanded by the country’s creditor representatives, or troika. As has been widely reported, the government has agreed to revoke the rights of the EPA companies and separate the distribution network from supply, on a legal basis and, possibly, one of ownership as well.

Proposals tabled by the EPA companies in the ongoing negotiations include license extensions beyond 2030 as compensation for their loss of exclusive retail market rights.

DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, holds majority 51 percent stakes in all three EPA gas supply companies. Shell holds a 49% stake in the broader Athens region, while the Italian multinational Eni holds 49% stakes in the Thessalia and Thessaloniki operations.

According to sources, the prospect of a distribution company with stakes held by the Greek state, DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, and the EPA shareholders is being examined at the ongoing discussions. But the negotiating sides are believed to be having trouble settling on a formula for the division of investment returns. If common ground can be established on this detail, which is considerably complex, as its many demands include cost and amortization studies, then a final agreement will most likely be reached and be ratified in Parliament.

Ratification of an agreement listing general principles, as a first step, to be fine-tuned over ensuing ministerial decisions, has not been ruled, in order to meet the troika’s pressing time schedule.