ELPE, driven by higher profit, considers SE Europe expansion

Spurred by a company record profit performance anticipated for 2015 and further market trading potential in the wider region, ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) is examining the prospect of increasing its market presence in southeast Europe.

The company’s top-level exectutives, led by chairman Efstathios Tsotsoros and managing director Grigoris Stergioulis, are focusing on the fact that the corporate group is achieving impressive profit margin increases when offering its refinery production through its own retail network of fuel stations in Greece and neighbouring markets.

Seeking to build further on successful market presences in Cyprus, Montenegro, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom), the ELPE board is currently examining regional market regulations for further expansion of its network, especially in Bulgaria and Serbia, as well as the wider southeast European region.

The company’s first-half performance in 2015, as well as unofficial figures for the third quarter, strongly suggests ELPE is headed for a record profit performance this year. This makes the financing aspects of its contemplated expansion easier.

ELPE posted a first-half net profit of 66 million euros following a loss of 91 million euros incurred during the same period last year. It appears the upward trend continued in the third quarter, during which ELPE’s EBITDA figure seems to have exceeded the level of 200 million euros, as energypress has reported.

ELPE’s stronger performance was boosted by improved international refining margins that benefited from the considerable contraction of Europe’s overall refining capacity, the stronger dollar, and fallen crude prices.

The company will need to decide on whether to use its increased profit to reduce its high debt level, finance the expansion plan being contemplated for southeast Europe, or opt for a combination of the two.

ELPE is the market leader in Cyprus with a 32.5 percent share of the retail market following its acquisition of BP’s network on the island in 2002. In Montenegro, ELPE operates the neighboring country’s largest retail network following its purchase of Jugo Petrol in 2002. ELPE ranks as the biggest fuel supplier in Fyrom, following its acquisition of the OKTA network, including its refinery, in 1999. ELPE also operates 84 EKO fuel stations in Bulgaria and a further 50 in Serbia.

In other company activity, ELPE recently returned to the hydrocarbons exploration market. It has begun work in the Gulf of Patras, where it holds exploration and exploitation rights, and also placed bids to tenders offering licenses for onshore blocks in western Greece and offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea.