Major natural gas market changes lie ahead

An energy ministry plan involving the split of DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, from the regional EPA natural gas supply companies covering the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki and Thessaly regions promises to bring about major changes to the country’s retail gas market.

The plan appears to have already been discussed, at an unofficial level, between Greek energy ministry and European Commission officials. Both sides are confident the revisions being considered are capable of establishing a more competitive Greek gas market, in line with EU directives.

As specified in Greece’s revised bailout agreement, the country’s lenders have requested a natural gas market road map by the end of this year to offer guidance for the removal of factors currently subduing market competition.

The role of DEPA in the future will be addressed at an upcoming general shareholders’ meeting on July 31.

A highly ranked energy ministry official contacted by energypress noted that two scenarios are possible. One entails DEPA’s step back from the retail market by becoming a minority shareholder in the EPA supply companies. The corporation currently holds 51 percent stakes in the country’s EPA supply companies, while Shell and Eni hold 49 percent stakes. The ministry does not appear keen to adopt this plan. The other scenario, believed to be prefered by the ministry, entails DEPA’s complete withdrawal from the Thessaly and Thessaloniki EPA supply companies combined with the corporation’s continued presence in EPA Attiki, covering the wider Athens area, without any changes to the 51 percent stake currently held in this venture.

The ministry’s overall aim is to establish a situation through which DEPA may operate in a competitive wholesale market while also maintaining its presence in a competitive retail environment, according to the ministry source contacted by energypress.

“A final decision on DEPA’s withdrawal from the EPA supply companies has yet to be reached,” the source noted, adding that Greek officials had more time ahead, until Christmas, to deliver a road map detailing the future of Greece’s natural gas market.