Shell, Eni likely to push for monopoly loss compensation

Shell and Eni, 49 percent shareholders in the country’s three EPA gas supply companies covering the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki and Thessaly, are likely to push for a meeting with energy minister Giorgos Stathakis over the premature ends of their respective regional monopolies. If so, the likelihood of the two companies demanding compensation payments is highly probable.

Both Shell and Eni have kept their intentions on the issue under wraps. However, they are expected to start opening up after assessing this year’s supply surcharges, forwarded just days ago by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The proceedings of a prospective meeting with the energy minister will determine whether Shell and Eni will freeze any thoughts for demands or pursue legal action. In the past, Shell had estimated the cost of the premature end to its regional monopoly at almost 100 million euros.

At this stage, further pressure by Shell and Eni for compensation payments seems likeliest. The recently replaced energy minister Panos Skourletis had ruled out the possibility of any payments to the two companies.

In 2001, Shell and ENI secured distribution and trading rights for 30 years in their respective markets. These arrangements were nullified as a result of bailout-required natural gas market reforms.

Shell holds a 49 percent stake in the EPA supply company serving the wider Athens region and ENI holds 49 percent stakes in the Thessaly and Thessaloniki EPA supply companies. DEPA, the Public Power Corporation, holds 51 percent stakes in all three EPA companies.

As of next week, gas consumers will begin receiving bills featuring new tariffs comprised of three fees, one concerning trading costs and the other two transmission and distribution costs. The new tally, including taxes, amounts to 5.3 cents per KWh, down from 5.5 cents per KWh in December.

Compared to the current heating fuel price – 8.9 cents per KWh or one euro per liter – the cost of natural gas is roughly 40 percent lower.