Bypass solution for Alexandroupoli FSRU gas to IGB pipeline

Gastrade, a consortium established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of northeastern Greece’s Alexandroupoli FSRU, and gas grid operator DESFA, have reached a verbal agreement for a technical solution that will temporarily skip the need for a compressor station in order to transmit gas from the FSRU to the Greek-Bulgarian IGB pipeline for export.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU is planned to be completed by December, 2023, well ahead of the scheduled completion, by DESFA, of the IGB gas pipeline’s compressor station in Komotini, expected in October, 2024.

Normally, the Komotini compressor station would be needed to transmit natural gas from the FSRU to the IGB pipeline, whose commercial launch is scheduled for tomorrow.

The verbal agreement between Gastrade and DESFA, mediated by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is soon expected to be made official.

The resulting contract will include a timeline for the development, by DESFA, of necessary accompanying projects concerning the country’s gas grid. They need to be completed if the technical solution agreed to by Gastrade and DESFA is to be brought to fruition.

 

 

DEPA Commercial makes another RES market acquisition

Gas company DEPA Commercial has further penetrated the RES market by fully acquiring NEW SPES CONCEPT, possessing solar farms with a total capacity of 232 MW, and is preparing to buy a further 51 percent stake, for full ownership, of North Solar, whose business plan features 500-MW of solar farms in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region.

DEPA Commercial aims to build a RES portfolio with a 1-GW capacity.

NEW SPES CONCEPT is currently developing 14 solar energy projects and holds as many electricity producer certificates.

DEPA Commercial made a first step into the renewable energy market last year with the purchase of a 49 percent stake in North Solar and is now expected to exercise an option for the other 51 percent of the company.

North Solar’s 500-MW solar farms in the country’s west Macedonia region are expected to receive finalized connection terms in the third quarter of this year, sources informed.

Besides its stakes in NEW SPES CONCEPT and North Solar, DEPA Commercial also holds a 20-percent stake in Gastrade, a consortium established for the Alexandroupili FSRU project in the country’s northeast.

DEPA Chief: ‘Holistic approach to energy matters needed more than ever’

Mr. K. Xifaras, CEO of Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA) SA., writes for International Energy Exhibition of Greece 2022

DEPA Commercial is Custodian of Greece’s energy security and of the smooth operation of the domestic energy market. Today, the energy sector, both in Greece and worldwide, is faced with a series of challenges and unforeseen factors which highlight, now more than ever, the need for a holistic approach to energy matters. The need to contain energy costs and support the society, on one hand, and the process of energy transition, on the other, have created a situation in which the market needs to find a balance which will ensure both the country’s energy efficiency and its survival in sustainable terms.

While trying to solve this difficult equation, the role of natural gas, as a bridge, fuel proves to be decisive for shaping the future of the energy market, given the diversification of energy sources and routes of supply and transport, as well as the expansion of storage capacity. DEPA Commercial, which consistently serves these strategic priorities, has been developing a multi-level strategy for the last three years that has proven to be particularly effective. A strategy with double focus: the verticalization and expansion of corporate activities, and the seamless transition to “green” energy, both of which are national goals described in the National Energy and Climate Plan and the European Green Agreement, enhancing our country’s role as a regional energy hub for the wider Southeast European region.

In order to cover the country’s immediate energy needs and to shield its energy security, DEPA Commercial is increasing the supply of LNG either through current contracts or through the spot market, while having already secured long-term agreements on more favorable terms. At the same time, the company is investing in important infrastructure projects and programs, which are drastically reshaping the energy status quo of the region and are contributing decisively to the process of Europe’s independence from Russian gas, such as the Greek-Bulgarian pipeline – IGB and the offshore LNG terminal (FSRU) in Alexandroupolis. Both, projects which will significantly increase the capacity of supply and storage of both Greece and the neighboring countries it serves.

TAP, Poseidon and EastMed are equally important pipeline projects, with the latter returning dynamically to the forefront as a result of the energy crisis, since it will enable the transport of natural gas from the fields of the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe. To that direction, DEPA Commercial is currently in advanced discussions with trading companies from Israel and Egypt.

In this way, a safety net is established regarding the security of supply in the wider region, which upgrades Greece’s geopolitical status by transforming it into a regulatory factor in the energy landscape.

Simultaneously, given the enhanced importance of natural gas, we have designed a comprehensive strategy aiming, on the one hand to expand the use of natural gas, both geographically and in terms of uses, and on the other hand to create the conditions for the development and utilization of renewable and alternative forms of energy. Keeping this in mind, DEPA Commercial is leading the developments towards the transition to a greener economy by designing and implementing initiatives that promote the further penetration of natural gas in the country’s energy mix, as a transitional fuel on the way to cleaner energy forms. The company also contributes substantially to the promotion of gas mobility and the use of cutting-edge technologies, such as Small-Scale LNG and CNG, thus expanding even further the natural gas network and ensuring distribution even in the most inaccessible areas. At the same, time, emphasis is placed on the development of a sustainable and efficient LNG supply chain for maritime transport that will increase the growth prospects of the Greek shipping sector.

With its sights on the future, DEPA Commercial is already active in the field of Renewable Energy Sources by creating a “green” portfolio that exceeds 200 MW of photovoltaic parks, and is also developing projects, infrastructure and technologies which will be able to serve in the future even “greener” energy such as hydrogen and biomethane.

Moreover, at DEPA Commercial we have proven that we operate always considering pertinent societal issues and, for this reason, with a true sense of responsibility we are contributing decisively to the absorption of a significant percentage of the rise in international gas prices, through the implementation of targeted market interventions aimed at supporting households and businesses, in full cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

With a solid vision and through hard work, DEPA Commercial is today an integrated energy company, with strong bases, operating vertically and according to modern corporate governance terms. We are meticulously planning our next steps and we are creating the conditions to successfully meet the ever-changing needs of the market and the economy.

 

Minister: ‘Revythoussa FSU launch by end of this month’

An FSU installation at the Revythoussa LNG terminal on the islet just off Athens will begin operating by the end of this month, energy minister Kostas Skrekas has told an Economist conference.

This LNG’s resulting capacity boost, combined with the development of northeastern Greece’s Alexandroupoli FSRU, now under construction, will upgrade the country’s gasification capacity to 15 bcm annually, a level ensuring Greece’s energy sufficiency as well as supply of quantities to neighboring countries.

Greek gas exports to Bulgaria are already covering as much as 80 percent of the neighboring country’s daily gas needs.

Skrekas, at the conference, also made note of Greece’s potential as a gas and green energy hub in the region. Interconnection projects with neighboring countries will play a pivotal role.

Greece’s plans include upgrading a connection with Albania within the next few years, as well as electricity interconnections with Bulgaria and Italy. In addition, a prospective electricity grid interconnection with Egypt promises to facilitate the transportation of up to 3 GW from the north African country to Greece and, by extension, the rest of Europe.

The minister also made note of the IGB pipeline to be inaugurated this Friday by prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ahead of its launch by the end of the month.

DG Energy chief in Athens for talks on range of key projects

The European Commission’s Director-General for Energy Ditte Juul-Joergensen will be discussing a range of issues with the energy ministry’s leadership at a meeting in Athens today, including Greece’s role in the Balkans, western Balkan interconnection projects, natural gas reserves ahead of next winter, as well as Greece’s list of projects related to REPower EU, Europe’s plan for an end to the continent’s reliance on Russian energy sources.

Athens’ plan for wholesale electricity market intervention through a mechanism designed to subdue price levels is also expected to be discussed. It still needs to be approved by the European Commission, according to government sources.

The energy ministry is confident this mechanism will be approved by Brussels following a related agreement reached by its leadership during a visit to Brussels in late May. Market officials have remained uncertain.

Greece is expected to seek funding support estimated between 7 and 8 billion euros through the REPower EU initiative for a total of 14 projects supporting energy efficiency and security.

These projects include an upgrade of the gas grid; installation of a new floating storage unit at the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens; the Dioryga Gas FSRU in Corinth, west of Athens; an FSRU at Alexandroupoli, in Greece’s northeast; the Blue Med hydrogen project; the prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north; IGB and TAP capacity boosts; as well as Greek-Egyptian and Greek-Bulgarian electricity grid interconnections.

PM discusses Greek regional gas supply prospects in talks with US president

The crucial role to be played by northeastern Greece’s prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU as a project that promises to help reduce and eliminate the reliance of the Balkans and, by extension, east Europe on Russian gas was stressed during talks between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and US president Joe Biden in Washington yesterday.

The Greek leader, who stressed that the Alexandroupoli FSRU will be installed at a port just 500 km from the Ukraine border, added the facility, discussed extensively between the two leaders, will play a pivotal role in Europe’s decision to end its reliance on Russian gas.

Mitsotakis also discussed Greece’s ambitious yet not unattainable objective of becoming an energy hub in the Balkans, as a first step, as well as a key player in eastern Europe.

Three prospective LNG terminals – Alexandroupoli FSRU I and II, as well as Dioryga Gas, close to Korinthos, west of Athens – combined with the existing LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, that will soon acquire a fourth storage unit, could elevate Greece’s regional role as a main gas supplier in the Balkans and eastern Europe.

 

 

 

Alexandroupoli FSRU development launch today, pivotal project

Development of the Alexandroupoli FSRU in Greece’s northeast, a project promising to boost energy security by broadening energy source diversification for Greece and the wider Balkan region, is scheduled to officially commence today.

The prime ministers of Greece and Bulgaria, as well as Serbia’s president, will attend today’s official ceremony. The leaders will highlight the need for energy source diversification in the Balkans and reduced reliance on Russian natural gas.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU promises to establish Greece as a gas hub for transportation of LNG into the EU.

Natural gas consumption in southeast Europe totals between 10 and 11 bcm annually, half this amount provided by Russia.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU, expected to be ready to operate by the end of 2023, is planned to offer a capacity of approximately 5.5 bcm, greatly diversifying gas supply to southeast Europe.

The project is budgeted at 380 million euros, of which 166.7 million euros will be provided through the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).

The Alexandroupoli FSRU will be linked with Greece’s gas grid via a 28-km pipeline, enabling gas supply to Greece, Bulgaria and the wider region, including Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Moldavia and Ukraine.

 

Alexandroupoli FSRU project development launch on May 3

Development of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, in Greece’s northeast, a project promising to boost energy security and widen energy source diversification in Greece and the wider Balkan region, is scheduled to officially commence on May 3.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU, to be developed and operated by Gastrade, a project-specific consortium established by the Copelouzos group, has become particularly crucial given the energy market challenges faced by the EU following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU promises to initially offer a new gas transmission corridor to Greece and Bulgaria, and, at a latter stage, to Romania and North Macedonia, helping all these countries reduce their reliance on Russian natural gas.

Completion of the project’s second stage, expected in 2024, promises to double the unit’s capacity and enable natural gas transportation as far as Ukraine.

The Gastrade consortium is comprised of five partners, founding member Elmina Copelouzos of the Copelouzos group, Gaslog Cyprus Investments Ltd, DEPA Commercial, Bulgartransgaz, and DESFA, Greece’s gas grid operator, each holding 20 percent stakes.

All five partners have agreed to offer 2 percent each so that North Macedonia can enter the consortium with a 10 percent stake.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Bulgarian counterpart Kiril Petkov will attend next week’s ceremony marking the start of work on the project.

DESFA calls for doubled gas network capacity, PPPs

The country’s changing energy policy, especially following an EU decision aiming to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas, will require far greater gas transmission capabilities, inevitably prompting the need for a major network capacity boost, double the current capacity, with project participation from private-sector investors through public-private partnerships, DESFA, the gas grid operator, has informed RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The EU’s energy policy, steering Europe towards energy-source diversification, promises to establish Greece as a southeastern transit country handling far bigger quantities than at present.

Speaking at the recent energypress Power & Gas Fourum, Michalis Thomadakis, DESFA’s Director of Strategy and Development Division, noted: “Certain projects need to be developed so that we can fully utilize the new role the Greek gas transmission system is being called upon to adopt in the wider region. This can only be done with investments. It basically means that the system’s capacity needs to be doubled.”

A disruption of Russian natural gas supply to Europe would create a need for approximately 40 bcm to the Balkan region. Much of this quantity would pass through Greek territory.

New infrastructure promising to greatly increase Greece’s LNG importing capacity is already in the making. Projects include the Alexandroupoli FSRU in the country’s northeast, the Dioryga Gas FSRU planned for the Korinthos region west of Athens, as well as an additional storage tank at Greece’s only existing LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

Given these prospects, DESFA is currently looking to develop new pipelines and make network revisions that would facilitate greater quantities to other European markets.

 

 

War, energy crisis hastening plans for new LNG facilities

Russia’s war on Ukraine and the energy crisis are precipitating new natural gas and LNG supply solutions, a development that has increased the importance of related projects planned in Greece.

The EU’s decision to drastically reduce the continent’s reliance on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and terminate the dependence prior to 2030 has increased the importance of supply routes not linked to Moscow’s interests.

This development has increased the feasibility of new infrastructure promising to facilitate natural gas and LNG supply to Europe from alternative sources.

A major US-EU agreement established late last week for supply of an additional 15 bcm, at least, of American LNG to the continent this year, and gradual supply increases further ahead in time, has greatly boosted the prospects for related infrastructure.

The EU intends to follow up on this agreement by also establishing further supply deals with other producers, including Qatar and Egypt, in an effort to increase its LNG imports by a total of 50 bcm.

The EU’s new direction, focused on LNG imports, is seen as essential as the deterioration in relations between Europe and Moscow is expected to last many years.

Related projects in Greece promise to serve as LNG gateways for the country as well as southeast and central Europe, while also establishing Greece as a gas hub with an increased geostrategic role.

The Gastrade consortium recently decided to begin planning a second FSRU for Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, as an addition to a prospective first unit.

Petroleum group Motor Oil aims to begin development of its “Dioryga Gas” FSRU project, 1.5 km southwest of the company’s refinery in Korinthos, west of Athens, by the end of the year.

Gas grid operator DESFA is preparing to further upgrade its LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

Also, the Mediterranean Gas company is planning to develop an FSRU at Volos port, on the mainland’s east coast. RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has already issued a license for this project.

In addition, another investor, still undisclosed, is set to begin licensing procedures for yet another FSRU in Greece, sources have informed.

 

 

 

Gastrade decides on additional Alexandroupoli FSRU by 2025

Gastrade, the consortium established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal planned for Greece’s northeast, has reached a decision to also install an additional FSRU unit at the location, expected to be completed in 2025, as a follow-up to the first terminal, set for completion in 2023.

The consortium’s decision for an additional FSRU in Alexandroupoli had been in the making from as far back as last summer, when the energy crisis was at its early stages, but was accelerated by the long-term turmoil now seen in relations between the west and Russia following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further highlighted the need for Europe to reduce its dependence on Russian gas as soon as possible. A completely new reality now appears to be in the making.

Southeastern Europe’s gas needs to result from Europe’s reduced energy dependence on Russia, through strategic diversification, has increased the prospect of Greece’s northeast becoming an energy hub that would facilitate gas exports in all directions, including to Ukraine.

The Gastrade consortium is comprised of five partners, founding member Elmina Copelouzos of the Copelouzos group, Gaslog Cyprus Investments Ltd, DEPA Commercial, Bulgartransgaz, and DESFA, Greece’s gas grid operator, each holding 20 percent stakes.

All five partners have agreed to offer 2 percent each so that North Macedonia can enter the consortium with a 10 percent stake.

DESFA joining Alexandroupoli FSRU, development imminent

Gas grid operator DESFA is set to sign a contract next week for the acquisition of a 20 percent stake in Gastrade, the consortium established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal planned for Greece’s northeast, energypress sources have informed.

The European Commission offered its approval of DESFA’s entry into the Gastrade consortium approximately three weeks ago. The endorsement was needed as DESFA, operator of Greece’s gas grid, will also be entering an independent gas system by acquiring a 20 percent of Gastrade, making the operator the fifth member of the consortium.

Besides the Copelouzos group, currently holding a 40 percent stake, the Gastrade consortium is also made up of Gaslog Cyprus Investments, a fully owned subsidiary of Gaslog Ltd, owning and operating over 35 LNG tankers; Greek gas utility DEPA; and Bulgartransgaz, each holding 20 percent stakes. DESFA’s entry will give all partners equal 20 percent shares.

A finalized investment decision on the Alexandroupoli FSRU is expected within the first few days of 2022 so that the project can be developed and ready for launch within 2023.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU has, for years, been included on the EU’s projects of common interest (PCI) list, making the prospective facility eligible for favorable EU funding support, as its actualization will contribute to energy source diversification and also bolster energy security and competition in the wider region.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU will become the country’s fourth entry point for natural gas. It is planned to supply up to 944,000 cubic meters of natural gas per hour, or 8.3 billion cubic meters annually, and offer an LNG storage capacity of 170,000 cubic meters.

Ministry official to hold strategic energy talks in Washington

Strategic opportunities emerging as a result of the Greek energy market’s ongoing transformation as well as the geopolitical significance of certain major projects, such as the Southern Gas Corridor, intended to diversify Europe’s gas sources and reduce the continent’s dependency on Russian gas, will be discussed by the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou with American officials during her visit to Washington this week.

The Greek official, travelling to Washington today, plans to hold discussions covering the entire range of energy policy issues, from new RES technologies, hydrogen, the energy mix, as well as investments of geopolitical nature, including Balkan gas interconnections, the Alexandroupoli FSRU project in northeastern Greece, the underground gas storage (UGS) facility at the almost depleted gas field of South Kavala in the Aegean Sea’s north, as well as Greece’s role as a regional hub for energy source and route diversification.

Inevitably, the talks will also cover the current energy crisis troubling the world, especially Europe.

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm has directly criticized Moscow for deliberately subduing its gas supply to Europe in order to manipulate the energy market and pressure Brussels for approval of Nord Stream 2, an underwater gas pipeline directly connecting Russia with Germany through the North Sea.

Certain countries that stand to lose significant gas transit revenues oppose this new pipeline. It has also generated years of conflict between Berlin and Washington. Nord Steam 2 has almost been completed and is now undergoing trial runs.

Europe is heavily dependent on Russian gas, while some countries in central and eastern Europe, including the Balkans, are almost entirely dependent. The US is seeking the greatest possible share for supply of American LNG.

DESFA’s Alexandroupoli FSRU entry on Vestager agenda

The European Commission’s pending approval of gas grid operator DESFA’s acquisition of a 20 percent stake in Gastrade, the company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal planned for Greece’s northeast, is expected to be on the agenda of an Athens meeting this Thursday between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition.

The Greek government considers the Alexandroupoli FSRU to be a pivotal energy supply source for Greece and the EU.

Gastrade’s other participants are awaiting Brussels’ approval of the DESFA entry so that they can go ahead with an investment decision and commence its development.

European Commission approval of DESFA’s participation in the Alexandroupoli FSRU is necessary as the company is the operator of Greece’s gas grid and, by acquiring a 20 percent of Gastrade, would also gain entry into an independent gas system.

The DG Comp’s endorsement of the DESFA entry is seen as a formality following Brussels’ recent approval of the entry of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz as a fourth member of the Gastrade consortium, also with a 20 percent stake.

DEPA Commercial pushing to mature RES licenses in time for auction

Gas company DEPA Commercial, currently placing emphasis on its alternative business interests, is making efforts to bring to maturity solar energy licenses in time for an upcoming RES auction. These PV licenses concern solar farm projects representing a total capacity of 499.61 MW.

Late in January, DEPA Commercial announced it had acquired a 49 percent stake in North Polar, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) established on the basis of a portfolio carrying solar energy project certificates and production permits. These licenses concern projects in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region.

DEPA Commercial and its SPV partner have submitted environmental terms for these projects and are now expecting their connection terms.

The partners are striving to participate in the next RES auction to be staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the first to be held under new terms expected to soon be approved by the European Commission.

On another front, DEPA Commercial is closely monitoring developments regarding the Alexandroupoli FSRU in northeastern Greece, another of its project interests.

DEPA Commercial holds a 20 percent stake in Gastrade, a company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition still needs to approve Greek gas grid operator DESFA’s entry into the consortium, also with a 20 percent stake, to be taken from the Copelouzos group’s current 40 percent share in the Alexandroupoli FSRU venture.

The Brussels authority’s endorsement of DESFA’s entry is seen as a formality following its recent approval of the entry of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz as a fourth member of the consortium, also with a 20 percent stake. Gaslog is the other consortium member, also holding 20 percent.

The DESFA entry approval is anticipated within the second quarter. Gastrade’s partners are then expected to swiftly follow with an investment decision on the Alexandroupoli FSRU’s construction.

DESFA’s Alexandroupoli FSRU entry awaiting DG Comp OK

Gas grid operator DESFA’s agreement, last November, for the acquisition of a 20 percent stake in Gastrade, the company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal planned for Greece’s northeast, requires, as its final step, approval from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, to officially make the operator the consortium’s fifth member.

DG Comp approval of DESFA’s agreement is needed as the operator, managing Greece’s gas transmission system, is entering an independent gas system through its agreement to buy a Gastrade stake.

The DG Comp’s endorsement of the anticipated DESFA entry is seen as a formality following its recent approval of the entry of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz as a fourth member of the consortium, also with a 20 percent stake.

A finalized investment decision by Gastrade for the development of the Alexandroupoli FSRU is expected this spring. The unit’s launch is scheduled for the first half of 2023.

The FID will enable the procurement procedure for the project’s equipment to go ahead, beginning with the floating unit, for which a Gastrade tender has already been completed.

A preferred bidder has also been declared for the FSRU’s subsea-and-overland pipeline, to link the floating unit with the country’s gas grid.

Bids for a tender offering a contract for the design, procurement and construction of the project’s fixed mooring system were submitted in late-February.

Talks are still in progress, at a diplomatic level, for the possible entry into the Alexandroupoli FSRU by North Macedonia’s state gas company, through the acquisition of a 10 percent stake from Gastrade. The outcome of these talks will not affect the project’s development.

Alexandroupoli FSRU 2Q investment decision, work to start in ’21

The shareholders of Gastrade, a company founded by the Copelouzos Group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU planned for Greece’s northeast, are gearing up for an investment decision, expected in the second quarter, ahead of the beginning of the project’s development, anticipated within the current year.

Gastrade’s shareholders will most likely make an investment decision in May, sources informed.

The consortium’s shareholders are currently awaiting final administrative details that will formalize the entry into Gastrade of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz and DESFA, the Greek gas grid operator.

Last week, Thanassis Dagoumas, the head official at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, approved the transfer of a 20 percent Gastrade stake from the Copelouzos Group’s Asimina Eleni Copelouzou to the Bulgarian gas company.

Copelouzou now controls 40 percent of Gastrade, with three stakeholders, Gaslog, DEPA Commercial and Bulgartransgaz each holding 20 percent.

Within the next few weeks, the RAE chief is also expected to endorse a further 20 percent transfer from Copelouzou to DESFA, giving the consortium’s five partners equal shares of 20 percent each.

Gastrade has already announced a tender offering an EPC contract for the floating LNG terminal in Alexandroupoli. Participants face a February 18 deadline.

An investment decision promises to push forth engineering studies, including geotechnical, as well as the order of a floating vessel for the project during the year. The FSRU will be completed in 2023, Gastrade shareholders have announced.

The shareholders appear receptive to the idea of North Macedonian involvement in the Gastrade consortium. They are awaiting bilateral developments at a diplomatic level, sources informed.

North Macedonia pipeline market test by September

Gas grid operator DESFA has begun preparations with the energy ministry to stage a market test by September for the Greek segment of a gas pipeline interconnector to run to North Macedonia.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, requested a market test, to ensure sufficient capacity reservation by users, for the project when it endorsed DESFA’s development plan covering 2017 to 2026.

North Macedonian authorities are also working on preparations for the project’s development. Just days ago, the country’s transport and communications minister Blagoj Bocvarski noted that all will be ready by the end of 2021 for the announcement of a tender concerning the construction of the project’s North Macedonian segment.

All licensing requirements will have been resolved earlier, by the middle of this year, Bocvarski added.

DESFA and its North Macedonian counterpart MER signed a Memorandum of Understanding in October, 2016 for the pipeline project.

Its Greek segment, budgeted at 51.4 million euros, will cover a 57-km distance, beginning from Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area.

The pipeline will be linked to Greece’s prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU in the northeast. North Macedonia currently fully depends on Russian gas supply through a Balkan pipeline.

Greece, Israel eyeing broader alliance for Balkans, central Europe

The Greek-Israeli energy alliance is broadening its scope by aiming for the establishment of a Greek gateway to facilitate Israeli gas supply to the Balkan region and, by extension, central Europe.

This objective, part of strong diplomatic relations between the two countries in energy, was confirmed during a recent virtual meeting between Greece’s newly appointed energy minister Kostas Skrekas and his Israeli counterpart Yuval Steinitz.

Their bilateral talks will be followed up by broader meeting today to involve the energy ministers of Greece, Israel, Cyprus, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, North Macedonia and Hungary.

The participating officials will seek to lay the foundations for a closer energy alliance that would facilitate distribution from Israel’s Leviathan gas field via alternate routes – the Alexandroupoli FSRU and the IGP – to soon be offered by Greece.

The aforementioned Balkan and central European countries are extremely keen on securing alternative supply routes, diplomatic sources informed.

Much work is needed by Israel and Greece to establish energy alliances with Balkan countries, but a first step will seemingly be taken today.

Brussels forwards new PCI list, to be finalized late this year

The European Commission’s fifth PCI (Projects of Common Interest) list in the electricity and natural gas sectors, being forwarded for public consultation, features, for now, a number of project additions and removals, compared to the previous edition.

Market officials and state authorities will have the opportunity to offer their views and observations over the consultation procedure’s twelve-week period before the European Commission adopts a finalized version of the fifth PCI list towards the end of 2021, based on an existing Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) framework, focused on linking the energy infrastructure of EU countries.

PCI projects are entitled to EU funding support. Brussels authorities introduced selection criteria revisions in December, ascertaining, however, that the impact of all projects, especially on CO2 emissions, will be appraised when finalizing the PCI list’s fifth edition.

The provisional list includes a number of electricity and gas sector projects concerning Greece.

Electricity-sector projects involving Greece include: a Bulgarian-Greek grid interconnection, expected to be completed in 2023; an Egyptian-Greek-Libyan grid interconnection headed by Green Power 2020 and scheduled for delivery in 2025; as well as three Egypt-Greece interconnections, two of these featuring Kykladika Meltemia SA as project promoter and expected to be respectively completed in 2025 and 2028, and a third headed by Elica SA and scheduled for completion in 2028.

An energy storage project planned by Eunice for Ptolemaida, northern Greece, and scheduled for completion in 2022 is a new entry on the PCI list.

In the natural gas sector, the PCI list includes: the Alexandroupoli FSRU (2022); a subsea pipeline between Greece and Italy, known as the Poseidon Pipeline (2025); EastMed, a pipeline planned to carry natural gas from the east Mediterranean to European markets, via Crete (2025); a compressor station in Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area (2022); a metering and regulating station in Megalopoli, Peloponnese (2025); a compressor station in Abelia, in Greece’s mid-north (2023); a compressor station in Kipoi, northeastern Greece (2024); a pipeline link for the Alexandroupoli FSRU (2022); a TAP pipeline capacity increase (2025); and the development of an underground gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece (2023).

DEPA calls for RAE to prioritize Kipoi, Abelia compressor stations

Gas utility DEPA has underlined the gas-supply security importance of two prospective compressor stations in Kipoi, northeastern Greece, and Abelia, in the mid-north, urging RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to prioritize their development.

The two projects, on a RAE list of infrastructure projects for preventive action, are expected to significantly improve energy supply security in Greece over the mid and long-term by facilitating the transportation process of natural gas.

DEPA stressed the importance of the two compressor stations in a letter forwarded to RAE’s public consultation procedure on its preventive action plan.

The two compressor stations are vital for grid-connection and gas-flow purposes concerning the prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU and an underground gas storage facility (UGS) planned for development at an almost depleted offshore natural gas field in South Kavala, DEPA pointed out in its letter.

Also, the Abelia compressor station is needed to ensure hydraulic gas-flow sufficiency from north to south, via the TAP project, DEPA noted.

Both compressor station projects feature in gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030.

North Macedonia involvement in key Alexandroupoli projects

North Macedonia plans to help cover its energy needs through an involvement in two Greek-based projects, the prospective FSRU in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, and, in the same region, a gas-fueled power station to run on LNG stemming from the floating LNG terminal.

Much progress has been made on the neighboring country’s interest in these two projects since a meeting in Athens last September between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his North Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev. The partnership also represents a strategic decision for the Greek government.

It is considered certain that a state-owned North Macedonian company will soon enter the Alexandroupoli FSRU project’s equity pool with a 10 percent stake, energypress sources have informed.

This project’s five current partners – Copelouzos group, Gaslog, Greek gas utility DEPA, Greek gas grid operator DESFA and Bulgartransgaz – are expected to each offer small portions of their respective 20 percent stakes to make available a 10 percent stake for the state-owned North Macedonian company in the Alexandroupoli FSRU.

The project’s development is not expected to be impacted by any equity reshuffles.

Two international tenders staged by Gastrade, a company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, have been successfully completed. One of the two tender concerns the FSRU’s construction. The other concerns the installation of pipelines linking this facility to the national gas grid.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU consortium is expected to make a final investment decision in late February, sources informed.

On the other front, ESM, North Macedonia’s state electricity company, is expected to acquire a 25 percent stake in a gas-fueled power station to be developed by Damco Energy, a Copelouzos group subsidiary, in Alexandroupoli’s industrial zone.

The initiative will secure 200 MW of the facility’s 800-MW capacity for North Macedonia. The country currently has an electricity deficit of approximately 2 GWh.

Bulgarian state-owned electricity company NEK EAD also appears interested in acquiring a stake in the Alexandroupoli power station. Bulgaria has projected an electricity deficit a few years from now as the country must phase out major lignite-fired power stations. European Commission exemptions extending the lifespans of these units are expiring.

North Macedonia eyeing 25% stake in Alexandroupoli gas facility, PM says

North Macedonia may participate with a 25 percent stake in a natural gas facility in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, that promises to offer a production capacity double the size of the country’s gas shortage, totaling 2 GWh, North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has told state broadcaster Alsat.

Also, bureaucratic procedures concerning the development of a natural gas pipeline from Greece to North Macedonia are close to being completed, while talks with Okta, a Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) subsidiary, for a relaunch of the company’s oil pipeline running from Thessaloniki to Skopje are continuing, Zaev noted.

The North Macedonian leader also expressed an interest for the country to participate as a shareholder in the company to develop the Alexandroupoli FSRU, noting the country plans to utilize natural gas for all state facilities as “American LNG is far cheaper”.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU is expected to facilitate supply of American LNG to the Balkan region.

DEPA Commercial to enter RES field, starting with 200-MW goal

DEPA Commercial, the new entity emerging from gas utility DEPA, will enter renewable energy production as part of the company’s transformation from a gas to energy company, its administration has decided.

The firm has already held talks with green energy players with the aim of involving DEPA Commercial in solar and wind energy projects about to enter the construction stage or already being constructed, sources informed.

An initial objective for the accumulation of a green-energy portfolio comprising approximately 200 MW has been set by the company, sources added.

Careful steps are being taken in the RES sector, Dr. Konstantinos Karagiannakos, the company’s Coordinating Director of Trading Activities, recently noted.

Having lost a steady and reliable market share in gas distribution, a sector that guaranteed DEPA annual profit of about 25 million euros, DEPA Commercial is now eyeing new activities and revenues from domains that offer more consistency than trade, entailing higher risk.

Besides the RES sector, DEPA Commercial’s lower-risk approach has also led to an interest in the prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU in northeastern Greece.

The company is also broadening its activities to cover gas supply for the industrial sector and customers in areas without gas networks, through small-scale LNG and remote CNG solutions, as well as the gas-run vehicle market through the development of a nationwide network of refueling stations.

In addition, the company is also making plans to enter eco-friendly alternative fuel markets such as hydrogen and biomethane.

 

DESFA, seeking leading role, awaits RAE approval of investment plan

Gas grid operator DESFA’s majority stakeholder Senfluga – a consortium comprising three European operators, Snam, Fluxys and Enagas, as well as Greek energy company Damco – holding a 66 percent stake in the former state-controlled utility – is striving for extroversion and a leading market role in Greece’s post-lignite era.

As was recently indicated by DESFA’s chief executive Nicola Battilana, the company is striving to push ahead with major investment plans to bolster the role of natural gas as a transitional fuel towards climate-neutral energy systems, and also upgrade Greece’s geostrategic role in the southeast Mediterranean.

DESFA’s investment interest very much depends on the position to be adopted by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on projects of national significance. The gas grid operator anticipates the authority will approve, within the next few days, its ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030, worth 500 million euros.

The gas grid operator is looking for swift approval of the plan. Fast action would help the country’s climate-change objectives set by the Greek government.

Besides the Greek market, DESFA is also seeking to generate revenue through various projects abroad. DESFA is expected to be declared the winning bidder in a tender for the maintenance and operation of a Liquefied Natural Gas Import LNGI facility developed in Kuwait by state-run KIPIC.

DESFA is also working on a series of other interests, including becoming the fifth member of a team behind the Alexandroupoli FSRU project, a floating LNG terminal envisaged for Greece’s northeast. This FSRU, geostrategically significant for Greece, promises alternate LNG supply to the Balkans.

Project licensing preparations are also being made by DESFA for a pipeline interconnection to link Greece and North Macedonia. The operator anticipates a market test co-staged by DESFA and MER, the neighboring country’s gas grid operator, will produce favorable results.

Other project plans at DESFA include gas grid expansion in Greece’s west Macedonia region, to facilitate the entry of natural gas where lignite has dominated as an energy source.

DESFA one step away from Alexandroupoli FSRU entry

Just days after the entry of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz, Greek gas grid operator DESFA appears set to become the fifth member of Gastrade, the company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal envisioned for Greece’s northeast.

Talks concerning a DESFA entry, ongoing since the beginning of this year, have essentially concluded, while an announcement of the operator’s entry into Gastrade’s line-up is expected soon, no later than the end of September, energypress sources informed.

DESFA’s interest to join the consortium for the Alexandroupoli FSRU project, the first ever private-sector plan for such infrastructure in Greece, reflects the intention of the company’s new ownership and administration to broaden DESFA’s role from gas grid operator to a major player in Greece’s natural gas market.

As for Gastrade, keen to establish partnerships that support its strategic objectives, DESFA’s expected entry into the Alexandroupoli FSRU consortium appears to have been encouraged as a result of the operator’s knowhow, as a TSO, in LNG and the Greek gas market, its players, as well as the legal framework.

DESFA’s entry would also give the Greek State a stake in the Alexandroupoli project, supported for years by the previous and current Greek governments.

Besides the Copelouzos group, holding a 40 percent stake, the Gastrade consortium is currently also made up of Gaslog, Greek gas utility DEPA, and Bulgartransgaz, each holding 20 percent stakes. The entry of a fifth member will give all partners equal 20 percent shares.

The project, budgeted at 380 million euros, is expected to be launched no later than early 2023.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU, along with the existing Revythoussa islet LNG terminal just off Athens, are crucial given the current strains in Greek-Turkish relations as the two units represent the country’s only gas infrastructure not relying on Turkish territory.

The LNG terminals also promise to increase competition in the regional market and reduce natural gas supply costs to neighboring countries.

A market test was successfully completed for the Alexandroupoli FSRU in March.

Alexandroupoli FSRU investment decision later in ’20

Investors behind the Alexandroupoli FSRU are expected to make final decisions on the project’s development in the final quarter of this year.

Two pending issues, the completion of a regulatory framework for the project, as well as approval by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition of the project and funding via the National Strategic Reference Framework (2014-2020), are expected to be resolved by the final quarter.

Also, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is soon expected to reach a preliminary decision exempting the FSRU from compulsory access to third parties as well as tariff adjustments every three to four years. This decision, needed for the project’s regulatory framework, is expected by late October or early November, when the European Commission’s approval is anticipated.

The Directorate-General for Competition will also need to give the green light for NSRF funding.

Once these pending issues are all resolved, investors will be able to decide on the project’s development, expected to require two years to construct. Investors envision a launch in 2023.

Yesterday’s anticipated entry of Bulgartransgaz, for a 20 percent stake, highlights the project’s regional prospects. This regional dimension will be highlighted even further if ongoing Romanian interest is materialized.  Talks that have been going on for some time were disrupted by the pandemic.

For the time being, Greek gas utility DEPA, Gaslog and Bulgartransgaz each have 20 percent stakes, while the Copelouzos group holds a 40 percent share. The entry into the project of Gastrade, as a fifth partner, remains pending.

Most crucial for the project’s prospects, a market test completed in March showed that the Alexandroupoli FSRU is sustainable. The test prompted a big response from Greek and international gas traders, who placed capacity reservation bids for a total of 2.6 billion cubic meters per year.

US interest for LNG supply via the Alexandroupoli FSRU is strong. Last year, Cheniere sold a big shipment to Greek gas utility DEPA, while a further ten American shipments have been made so far this year.

US investments in Greek RES sector rising, LNG imports up

New US investments in Greece’s RES sector are on the rise, the energy ministry has stressed following a meeting yesterday between Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, for a discussion on major energy project plans in the wider region and the related American investment activity.

U.S. companies such as ONEX, Black Summit, with support from DFC (International Development Finance Corporation), Quantum Energy Partners, National Energy, General Electric, Fortress Investment Group, Blink and Tesla are all currently pursuing investments in the Greek market.

Hatzidakis, the energy minister, expressed satisfaction over the level of foreign investments in Greece, noting U.S. participation has significantly increased, especially in the energy sector.

Last month, 547 Energy, an American renewable energy venture backed by Quantum Energy Partners, participated for a third time in a row in a RES auction staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, adding 107 MW in wind energy capacity to its Greek portfolio for a current tally of eight RES projects and 390 MW, the energy ministry noted.

National Energy is drawing American funds to develop wind and solar energy projects in Greece with a total capacity of 270 MW, the statement added.

Also, the energy ministry noted, General Electric has supplied equipment for a wind energy farm in Fokida, west of Athens, a project being partially financed by the Fortress Investment Group; Blink recently began an investment plan in the electromobility sector, for rechargers and other equipment; while Tesla, a producer, amongst other things, of electric vehicles, recently announced a plan to expand its operations into Greece.

During their meeting, Hatzidakis and Pyatt also discussed the partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, plus the U.S.

The progress of work at the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline, whose geostrategic importance was stressed by the Greek minister, was also addressed. A closer association with Bulgarian contractors is being sought for the project’s punctual delivery.

Work on the Alexandroupoli FSRU in northeastern Greece is progressing at a satisfactory pace, the two officials agreed, noting the project will have a positive impact on geostrategic and energy matters.

The U.S. supplied nearly half of the 2,651,903 cubic meters of LNG imported into Greece in the first half of 2020, almost quadruple the amount supplied by America to Greece during the equivalent period a year earlier.

Bulgaria gas pipeline explosion highlights need for local projects

Yesterday’s Bulgarian gas pipeline explosion in Bulgaria, prompting a supply cut into Greece from a northern route, yet again highlights how vital it is for Greece to develop two gas infrastructure project plans in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, and Kavala, in the north.

The explosion of this pipeline, carrying Russian gas into Greece via Bulgaria, has not affected Greece’s energy security as supply from the alternate Kipoi route remains uninterrupted, while the contribution of high LNG reserves at the Revythoussa terminal, just off Athens, has also been crucially important.

However, a Greek energy crisis could have resulted if this accident were more serious, or if the Revythoussa facility did not exist, or, worse still, the accident coincided with even greater Greek-Turkish tensions than at present, which could have meant a cut in gas supply from Turkey, hosting one of Greece’s key gas import corridors.

The intensifying geopolitical instability of the wider region, which includes Turkey, an extremely troubling neighbor, makes imperative the existence of sufficient gas storage facilities to safeguard Greece’s energy security. Despite the precarious conditions in the region, Greece remains one of the European countries without sufficient energy storage infrastructure.

In addition to the existing Revythoussa LNG terminal, Greece’s infrastructure definitely needs to be reinforced by projects such as the Alexandroupoli FSRU and an underground gas storage facility at a virtually depleted offshore deposit south of Kavala.

 

US backs Greece’s east Mediterranean activities, major projects

All countries in the east Mediterranean region must carry out their activities in accordance with international law, including the International Law of the Sea as stipulated by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Greek and US governments have jointly announced following a high-level virtual conference held yesterday on energy issues.

This statement clearly offers US support for the positions of Greece, facing Turkish provocation.

The working group’s participating Greek and US officials reiterated the commitment of the two countries to cooperate on the effort to diversify energy sources in southeast Europe, collaborate with regional partners for energy source development, and promote regional energy security.

The latest energy working group builds on steadily growing bilateral cooperation following Greek-US strategic dialogue meetings in December, 2018 and October, 2019, the joint announcement added.

The Greek team was represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Deputy Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Openness Kostas Frangogiannis and Deputy Environment and Energy Minister Gerassimos Thomas (photo). The US team was represented by Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon and Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes.

Fannon, the Assistant Secretary of State, expressed satisfaction on the completion of the Greek segment of the TAP gas pipeline project, to carry Azeri gas to Europe.

The US official also offered support for the ongoing construction of the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline interconnection and the progress achieved in plans for an FSRU in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, a South Kavala underground gas storage facility, and Greek-North Macedonian connection.