Upbeat mood for energy prior actions dispels collapse fears

Contrary to recent reports of a breakdown, the energy ministry is close to reaching an agreement with the country’s creditors on energy-sector bailout prior actions due for completion by the end of September, according to energypress sources.

Completion of these energy-sector prior actions and all others included in Greece’s bailout will pave the way for the disbursement of a subtranche of 2.8 billion euros.

High-ranking energy ministry officials have held meetings with European Commission officials in Brussels over the past couple of days to prepare the ground for a meeting in Athens next Tueday between energy minister Panos Skourletis and creditor representatives, the energypress sources said.

The European Commission officials were cooperative, dispelling various reports of a likely breakdown in the review of energy-sector issues, the sources said.

Judging by the latest talks, both sides appear to mutually agree that the majority of pending issues for Greece’s energy-sector prior actions due this month concern scheduling rather than content. The ministry is expected to complete five energy-related prior actions by the end of this month.

Despite some delays, satisfactory overall progress has been made on matters concerning the upcoming NOME auctions; renewable energy sector-supporting ETMEAR surcharge revisions; legislation for the Target Model, Greece’s contribution to a fully integrated EU energy market; as well as tariff issues for high-voltage consumers, all prior actions expected this September.

The gas release obligation, a prior action set by the European Commisison requiring DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, to double, through its auctions, the amount of natural gas made available to the industrial sector as well as suppliers at weighted average cost prices, plus operational costs, is the only real pending issue at this stage.

Greek officials have opposed this prior action set by creditors, contending it will negatively impact DEPA’s financial performance and transform the corporation into a loss-incurring State company. European Commission officials apparently paid heed to the Greek argument on this matter without rejecting it.

At this point, it is believed that an agreement slanted in favor of Greece’s DEPA concerns will be reached at next Tuesday’s meeting between Skourletis, the energy minister, and creditor representatives.