Top global traders approaching ELPE for fuel orders

ELPE (Hellenic Petroluem) has recently been taking fuel orders from major global traders such as Vitol and Glencore International, enterprises handling commodities worth many billions of dollars, according to sources.

Demand for fuel traditionally increases around this time of the year in the west, ahead of summer, as do prices.

Quite impressively, ELPE is drawing the interest of major traders at a time of intensifying competiton between refineries for global market shares. The prices offered by refineries for their fuel products are a key factor, an ELPE source said.

Having reduced its emphasis on mazut production to focus on high value-added products such as fuel and diesel, the ELPE corporate group is currently exporting about 50 percent of its total production to the Balkan region, Turkey, and Egypt, as well as some of the gulf’s biggest oil producers, including Saudi Arabia.

As was made clear at a recent industry event in Brussels, Fuels Europe, the continent’s refineries are facing increasing competition from non-EU rivals.

Since 2008, 22 of Europe’s 127 refineries have shut down, mainly in France, the UK, and Germany, either because they were outdated old units that had not undergone revamps or because of the intensifying global competition beyond the EU. Non-EU facilities are less burdened by costly emmission-related expenses, such as CO2 right purchases.

Though a relatively unknown fact, Hellenic Petroleum’s (ELPE) refinery in Thessaloniki almost became Europe’s twenty-third victim, but the threat was avoided as a result of a series of investments made at the facility. Its emission levels, like those of ELPE’s two other refineries in Aspropyrgos and Elefsina, both west of Athens, were subsequently significantly reduced.

Italian and Spanish Euro MPs have contacted ELPE requesting the establishment of a coalition by refineries in Europe’s south for a coordinated push seeking regulatory cost restrictions, such as carbon emission rights, from the European Commission, the ELPE source said.

ELPE has set itself an objective to reduce its debt level this year, including payment of a 400-million euro bond that expires in May.

“If this is accomplished, ELPE’s image abroad will be transformed. We will be perceived more favorably,” the company source noted.

ELPE’s debt amounts to 3.3 billion euros. Half of this figure is comprised of medium and long-term loans and the other half of short-term loans.