Minister, lenders put further gas market measures on hold

Further natural gas market reforms that could be needed will be considered at the end of 2017, Greece’s recently appointed energy minister Giorgos Stathakis and the country’s creditor representatives appear to have decided at a meeting held in Athens yesterday as part of the bailout’s second review.

Officials will first assess the overall impact on Greece’s natural gas market of a series of measures already made and to take effect January 1 before deciding on any further action.

These measures, part of the bailout agreement, include the gas market’s liberalization for all business-related consumption; a split of supply and distribution activities at the country’s three exisiting EPA gas supply respectively covering the respective wider Athens, Thessaloniki and Thessaly regions; and DEPA’s (Public Gas Corporation) increased gas release, the proportion of low-priced natural gas offered by the corporation through its annual auctions. All these steps are intended to generate market competition.

According to energypress sources, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, possibly with assistance from a foreign-based consultant, has been given the task of preparing a study on the local gas grid’s needs.

The Government Council for Economic Policy (KYSOIP) will rely on this study’s results to prepare a road map of possible revisions overing the period between 2018 and 2020. The council’s study is expected to be delivered late in 2017.

Yesterday’s wait-and-see decision reached by the energy minister and the lenders puts on hold thoughts concerning a demand for DEPA to withdraw from the retail market. The corporation holds 51 percent stakes in the three regional EPA gas supply companies. Shell holds a 49% stake in the EPA supply company serving the wider Athens region, while the Italian multinational Eni holds 49% stakes in the Thessaloniki and Thessalia ventures.