Natural gas gains further ground in electricity production

Propelled by lower natural gas prices as a result of the extended slump in international oil prices, natural gas-fueled electricity production in Greece is continuously capturing an increased share of total output while electricity producers are reporting improved profit performances.

This trend is highlighted by the balance sheets and earnings figures reported by Protergia and Elpedison, two the country’s three biggest independent electricity producers, as well as data provided by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator. Heron, the country’s other major independent electricity producer, has yet to release its financial results.

Independent electricity producers enjoyed a considerable performance improvement in the first half of 2016, greatly increasing the utilization of their facilities, which led to impressive profit figures following a disappointing previous year. The increased electricity production levels prompted in increase in natural gas consumption.

At Elpedison, electricity production reached 1,049,000 MWh in the first half of this year, up dramatically from 253,000 MWh during the equivalent period a year earlier. Mytilineos, Protergia’s parent company, reported a 62.5 percent production increase at its power stations.

The sales figures at DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, also reflect this trend. They rose from 1,217 million Nm3 in the first half of 2015 to 1,771 million Nm3 in the first half of 2016, a 46 percent increase. According to the DEPA figures, released by ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), which holds a 35 percent stake in the state-controlled gas company, natural gas sales to electricity producers more than doubled in the first half compared to the equivalent period last year.

As for the financial results, Protergia posted a total turnover of 152.5 million euros in the first half of this year, up 77 percent from 86 million euros in the equivalent period last year. The company’s EBITDA rose to 27.2 million euros from 6.6 million euros.

Likewise, Elpedison posted first-half sales of 132 million euros, up from 65 million euros, and a sharp EBITDA increase to 13 million euros from losses of one million euros incurred in the first half last year.