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.

 

 

 

Foreign institutional investors hold 50% of PPC for first time

Power utility PPC is entering a new era following yesterday’s completion of the corporation’s equity capital raise, which lowers the Greek State’s share in PPC below 51 percent, to 34 percent, for the first time in the utility’s 70-year history. Foreign institutional investors now hold an overall 50 percent stake in PPC, up from 27 percent, while domestic stakeholders have a 16 percent share.

Greek governments will no longer be able to do as they please with PPC. Issues concerning management, policies, strategic decisions and new hirings will now require the approval of foreign investors at the general shareholders’ meetings. The Greek State will remain influential with its 34 percent stake.

The corporation’s new equity line-up promises to transform PPC into a far more efficient corporation capable of achieving more favorable terms in capital markets.

The Covalis and Zimmer funds, among the new multinational stakeholders, specialize in utility investments. Wellington is regarded as a highly selective fund, more so than Blackrock, also part of PPC’s new equity line-up.

PPC easily achieved its 1.35 billion-euro target through the equity capital increase. The business plan, approved on the eve of the equity capital increase, envisions investments worth 8.4 billion euros between 2022 and 2026, but the amount is now seen rising to 9.3 billion euros. Investments are planned in renewables, networks, Balkan investments and waste management.

More than half the sum of new investments, or 55 percent, is planned for the RES sector, both in Greece and abroad. A further 20 percent is planned for distribution networks, 7 percent for conventional energy sources, 4 percent for waste-to-energy units and 3 percent for retail concerns.

Geographically, 85 percent of PPC’s new investments will be made in Greece, and 15 percent in the Balkans, primarily in Romania and Bulgaria.

PPC equity capital increase to reshape market, rivals on alert

Power utility PPC’s plan, announced late last week, to proceed with a 750 million-euro equity capital increase, effectively a partial privatization that will result in a decrease of privatization fund TAIPED’s current stake in the company from 51 percent to 34 percent, promises to free the utility from restrictions imposed on state-controlled companies, boost its finances and enable the company to further consolidate its position as the dominant market player.

Rival players in the electricity and RES markets are closely following the developments, realizing the energy market map is headed for a major reshape if PPC’s equity capital increase is successfully completed.

PPC, as a transformed, independent corporation without state-company restrictions will be a much harder force to reckon with as it can be expected to charge ahead with an aggressive investment strategy in Greece and the Balkans, market players have commented.

Also, PPC, reshaping for a focus on green energy, will benefit from many advantages in the RES market, including the right to utilize its outgoing lignite areas for renewables, as well as priority grid dispatch rights given the strategic importance of its investments for the country, market officials have noted.

In response, rival players will now need to strengthen their capital standing and also consider strategic partnerships.

 

PPC: EBITDA green exposure to 39%, Balkan investments

Power utility PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis, in an extensive update to analysts following the announcement of a 750 million-euro equity capital increase plan, described the utility of the future as a radically transformed company to be primarily based on green energy production.

Stassis, who was addressing approximately 120 analysts, noted that the equity capital increase plan’s timing reflects current opportunities for PPC as well as the country’s needs.

Besides takeover opportunities in Balkan markets and RES sector investments that will help Greece achieve its energy and climate plan objectives, the country will also decrease its exposure to energy imports at fluctuating price levels, according to the chief executive.

The equity capital increase, Stassis noted, will enable PPC to carry out an 8.4 billion-euro investment plan by 2026, its objectives including the installation of RES units with a total capacity of 9.1 GW.

The utility has set an objective for a green-related EBITDA exposure of 39 percent by 2026, up from 17 percent at present.

PPC’s push for greater Balkan presence is planned to begin with projects in Romania and Bulgaria.

Romania’s RES market is growing at an annual rate of 8 percent, the country’s objective being to reach an installed capacity of 6 GW by 2030. Bulgaria’s RES market is growing at an even greater rate, 15 percent. The neighboring country’s objective is to have installed a further 3 GW by 2030.

 

IPTO factors Balkans into adequacy report calculations

IPTO is taking into account current and potential grid capacities of neighboring Balkan markets for its preparation of an updated adequacy report, a study to serve as a base for various new plans, including the shaping of Greece’s requests for a Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM) and Strategic Reserve, an updated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), and private-sector investment decisions for new natural gas-fired power stations.

IPTO is also factoring into its adequacy report calculations the heightened investment interest and activity in Greece’s RES sector, energy storage, now that this domain appears set for initiation, as well as the introduction of new elements to mechanisms and energy exchange markets, including the demand response system, remunerating major-scale electricity consumers when the operator asks them to shift their energy usage or stop consumption during high-demand peak hours, so as to balance the electricity system’s needs.

Electricity grids in the Balkans are being revamped, creating unprecedented electricity export opportunities for Greek exporters. The EU’s intention to impose a carbon border tax on electricity imports from non-EU countries adds to Greece’s export potential to the Balkans, as well as more new natural gas-fired power stations than the quantity included in the current NECP.

Given the developments, Greece now probably needs four new natural gas-fired power stations, including power utility PPC’s Ptolemaida V.

Private-sector firms are pushing ahead their plans for the development of such units, as was highlighted by a related joint announcement last Friday from GEK Terna and Motor Oil.

 

Mytilineos considering new gas-fired power units in Balkans

The Mytilineos group is examining the prospect of developing natural gas-fired power stations in Bulgaria and North Macedonia, seeing investment opportunities, like Greece’s other major energy players, in the Balkan region.

EU members Bulgaria and Romania, as well as non-EU members in the Balkan region, such as Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia, are announcing closures of old coal-fired power stations.

This development is creating investment opportunities as older units being withdrawn will, over the next few years, need to be replaced by new facilities, including natural gas-fired power stations.

A month ago, after receiving equipment for a new gas-fired power station unit in Agios Nikolaos, Viotia, northwest of Athens, Mytilineos informed that the company is examining the prospect of developing a similar combined cycle unit in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria, like Greece, is withdrawing its coal-fired power stations and aims to have completed the country’s decarbonization effort by 2025. The neighboring country will need to replace lost capacity through the introduction of natural gas-fired power stations and RES unit investments.

Extremely higher carbon emission right costs have made the withdrawal of coal-fired power stations a priority for Bulgaria and the wider region, one of Europe’s most lignite-dependent areas.

Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, combined, represent nearly ten percent of the EU’s total lignite electricity generation capacity.

Carbon emission right prices relaxed to 49.26 euros per ton yesterday after peaking at 56.65 euros per ton last Friday, following a months-long rally.

Last week, during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, North Macedonian leader Zoran Zaev disclosed that his government is discussing the prospect of a new gas-fired power station, in the neighboring country, with Mytilineos.

In Romania, projections for 2030 estimate the installation of 5.2 GW in wind energy units and approximately 5 MW in solar energy units.

Serbia, possibly offering even bigger green energy investment opportunities, aims to replace 4.4 GW of coal-fired generation by 2050. The country is now making plans for 8-10 GW in RES investments.

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.

PPC scouring southeast Europe markets for opportunities

Power utility PPC, on a mission, in recent months, to seek investment opportunities in neighboring countries, is carefully planning its first expedition abroad after some time.

Although PPC’s new three-year business plan does not specifically reference investment plans abroad, the company’s interest in other markets has become apparent.

PPC is striving to become a modern corporation and market leader in southeast Europe by 2030, the power utility’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis told a Bloomberg event late last week.

Potential projects on the corporation’s radar include North Macedonia’s Cebren hydropower facility, a 500-600 million-euro project for which PPC has entered a tender with Archirodon as its partner, and, further ahead, RES investments.

Establishing oneself as a dominant player in the southeast European market is a major challenge as highlighted by the participation of ten consortiums, big names included, in the Cebren hydropower plant tender, the latest following a total of ten preceding procedures for this project, all fruitless.

A proportion of PPC’s 1.1 billion-euro EBITDA target for 2023 could be generated by business activities beyond Greece.

The power utility has assembled a working group tasked with scouring foreign-market opportunities in all sectors, including hydropower, photovoltaics, other RES technologies, project tenders, as well as acquisitions.

PPC has made a series of unsuccessful investment quests over the past 18 years, beginning with Romania’s privatization tender, in 2003, for electricity distributors Electrica Banat and Electrica Dabrogea. PPC had advanced to this procedure’s second round but ultimately lost to Italian powerhouse Enel.

Motor Oil launches west Balkan growth plan, under Shell brand, in Croatia

Petroleum retailer Coral, a member of the Motor Oil group, is eyeing west Balkan markets, troubled by gasoline and diesel quality and trading concerns, on the strength of the strong Shell brand name it represents.

The Motor Oil group acquired Shell Hellas in 2010 in a deal licensing the company to market the multinational’s brands. Motor Oil then renamed Shell Hellas as Coral and, approximately four years ago, founded companies in North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Serbia.

Coral’s acquisition of a 75 percent stake in petroleum retailer Apios, holding a 3 percent share of the Croatian market and operating 26 petrol stations in the country, represents the beginning of the Greek firm’s growth plan for the west Balkan region, company officials said.

Croatia, this investment plan’s launch pad, is backed by robust economic projections. The country’s tourism industry has enjoyed solid growth over the past two years, generating increased revenues for petroleum firms.

Beyond Croatia, Coral plans to soon open two petrol stations in North Macedonia, under the Shell brand name. The company is also planning to enter the markets of Albania and Montenegro, where it also maintains the rights to use the Shell brand name.

Coral already operates five petrol stations in Serbia and is preparing to launch an additional six in this country.

 

ELPE seeking greater North Macedonia market share

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, aiming to capture a bigger share of the North Macedonian market, is currently negotiating for extrajudicial solutions that would enable the reopening of a company oil pipeline linking Thessaloniki with Skopje.

In an effort to help resolve this issue, ELPE has proposed a series of RES investments in the neighboring country as well as a conversion of its Okta refinery into a petroleum products hub facilitating distribution to the western Balkans.

December will be a crucial month for the negotiations between ELPE and North Macedonia as a verdict is scheduled to be delivered on an ELPE compensation request for 32 million dollars for a breach, by the neighboring country, of contractual obligations concerning minimum supply amounts between 2008 and 2011.

The North Macedonian oil market is dominated by two Russian companies, Gazprom and Lukoil, both gaining further ground. Gazprom supplies fuel products to North Macedonia via Serbia and Lukoil does so from Bulgaria.

US officials, seeking to inhibit the dominance of Russian energy firms in North Macedonia, have intervened to help resolve the country’s differences with ELPE.

Just days ago, a meeting on ELPE’s effort to reopen the oil pipeline was held in Thessaloniki during an official visit to the city by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. US government officials, Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and North Macedonian government deputies participated.

For quite some time now, Washington has made clear its stance aiming to limit Europe’s energy dependence on Russian companies and, as a result, is promoting the ELPE oil pipeline as an alternative supply route into North Macedonia.

 

ELPE negotiating reopening of North Macedonia oil pipeline

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, Greek government and North Macedonian officials have begun talks aiming for the reopening of an oil pipeline linking ELPE’s Thessaloniki refinery with the company’s Okta refinery in the neighboring country through an extrajudicial settlement by the end of the year.

The issue was discussed at a meeting in Thessaloniki yesterday, held on the sidelines of a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

At the meeting, the ELPE and North Macedonian government officials appeared keen on achieving an out-of-court settlement, sources informed.

The Greek petroleum group is seeking compensation of 32 million dollars for a breach, by the neighboring country, of contractual obligations concerning minimum supply amounts between 2008 and 2011.

ELPE has already won an older case, on the same issue, at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris for compensation worth 52 million dollars. This verdict was delivered in 2007, three years after the case was filed.

The Greek and North Macedonian sides, encouraged by the US, agreed to form a committee to work, until mid-October, on a solution that could enable the oil pipeline to reopen following a seven-year interruption, sources informed.

The officials have set a deadline to reopen the pipeline by the end of the year, sources added.

ELPE has completed all technical work needed for the oil pipeline’s relaunch, sources said. The pipeline’s use in place of oil tankers would offer drastic transportation cost cuts.

The ELPE officials updated North Macedonia’s government officials on the company’s investment plan for the neighboring country, sources said. It is believed to include RES investments and a conversion of ELPE’s Okta facilities into a petroleum products hub that would serve the western Balkans.

ELPE is already present in Serbia and Montenegro and is now targeting the markets of Albania and Kosovo for supply of ready-to-use petroleum products.

The oil pipeline stopped operating in 2013 after ELPE deemed its Okta refining activities were no longer feasible. The 213-km pipeline has a 350,000-metric ton capacity.

Until 2013, the pipeline was used to transfer crude oil from ELPE’s Thessaloniki refinery to the Okta unit in Skopje.

Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis chaired yesterday’s meeting, which involved the participation of secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou; deputy minister for economic diplomacy Kostas Fragogiannis; ELPE president Giannis Papathanasiou; ELPE chief executive Andreas Siamisiis; North Macedonian government deputies Liupko Nikolovski and Fatmit Bitikji; the country’s economy minister Kreshnik Bekteshi; US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon; and the US Ambassador to North Macedonia Kate Marie Byrnes.

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.

RAE, competition committee set to establish closer ties

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is set to sign a memorandum of cooperation with Greece’s Competition Committee for more effective coordination and monitoring of the market.

RAE’s newly appointed chief executive, Thanasis Dagoumas, took the initiative to propose closer relations between the two authorities. The Competition Committee appears to have responded favorably. Its leader, Giannis Lianos, has met with the new RAE chief, while the two officials are believed to have agreed to soon sign an agreement for cooperation.

RAE and the competition committee will retain their responsibilities, as stipulated by law, but will seek greater coordination and collaboration on closely related matters involving both authorities.

Meanwhile, officials are also working to establish a network linking all the market’s independent authorities, including the National Committee for Telecommunications and Post Offices, RAE, the Competition Committee, as well as the regulatory authorities for the country’s ports and railways. Further collaboration, joint action and exchange of knowhow is being sought through this initiative.

In addition, Dagoumas, the new RAE boss, plans to soon meet with the leadership at ACER, Europe’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, signaling the Greek authority’s willingness to adopt a more extroverted role.

The new RAE administration is keen to participate in the decision-making process for Balkan and European matters, not just implement EU directives and ACER decisions, Dagoumas recently told Greek Parliament’s permanent committee on institutions and transparency.

Balkan hydropower projects focus of Sarajevo event in November

Τhe prospects and development strategies of the hydropower industry in the Balkan region will be further discussed at the 4th International Summit and Exhibition “Hydropower Balkans”, scheduled to take place November 4-5, 2020 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the lead-up, organizers have prepared a report on the results of a study focused on the development of hydropower projects in the Balkans.

This report provides:

  • An overview of the hydropower industry in the Balkans per country;
  • A list of the most promising hydropower projects to be developed until 2025 in the Balkan region per country;
  • 120+ experts survey results with key information about Balkans hydropower industry prospects in the upcoming 10 years.

Request the report : https://www.hydropowerbalkans.com/analytics-report-on-current-industry-conditions/

Strategic Partners 2020: Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS), Elektroprivreda BiH

Balkan hydropower summit planned for November in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The 4th Annual International Summit and Exhibition Hydropower Balkans 2020 is scheduled to take place November 4 and 5 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the lead-up, organizers of the event have prepared a related report listing all key HPP construction and modernization projects planned to be launched in the Balkan region between 2020 and 2025.

Projects featured in the report include:

  • Čebren HPP in North Macedonia, a 333-MW construction project in North Macedonia whose investment needs are budgeted at 570 million euros.
  • HPP Komarnica construction in Montenegro. EPCG has signed an agreement to produce a preliminary design plan for this construction project, an investment estimated to be worth 237.9 million euros.
  • Dabar HPP construction in Republika Srpske, one of the two entities of Boznia and Herzegovina. Hidroelektrana Dabar, a unit of Elektroprivreda Republika Srpske, issued a public call for financing and building of HPP Dabar, a turnkey/engineering project valued at some 200 million euros.
  • HPPS Foča and Paunci construction, a plan by Republika Srpska and Serbia plan to jointly build two HPPs with a combined installed capacity of between 90 MW and 95 MW. This investment is estimated at 200 million euros.
  • HPP Buk Bijela construction. Serbia and Republika Srpska intend to jointly build the Buk Bijela hydropower plant, a project requiring an investment of 193 million euros.

Requests for the full list of investment projects may be submitted to: https://www.hydropowerbalkans.com/request-the-full-list-of-investment-projects/

MH Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske and JP Elektroprivreda BiH are the November event’s strategic partners.

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.

 

GEK TERNA set to develop new 660-MW thermal unit

GEK TERNA is expected to finance its development of a gas-fueled power station with a 660-MW capacity in Komotini, northeastern Greece, through bond funds totaling 500 million euros, sources have informed.

In a company statement, GEK TERNA noted it intends to use 400 million of 500 million euros in bond funds to finance the group’s investment program, which includes gas-fueled power generation.

GEK TERNA is close to reaching an investment decision on this facility, the sources added. It would represent the third thermal unit involving the group.

GEK TERNA, which has the potential to play a key role in renewable energy through Terna Energy, is not overlooking thermal-unit developments.

Greece’s decarbonization strategy and the dominance of natural gas as the main fuel during the energy transition are two factors creating major opportunities for the GEK TERNA group.

Other vertically integrated electricity producers are also preparing new thermal facilities. The Mytilineos group is already constructing an 826-MW gas-fueled power station in the Boetia area, slightly northwest of Athens. This unit is expected to be launched next year.

A licensing procedure by Elpedison, also for an 826-MW facility, in Thessaloniki, is maturing.

In addition, the Copelouzos group is making progress on licensing for a 660-MW facility in Alexadroupoli, northeastern Greece. Company official Kostas Sifneos recently said this facility’s launch is scheduled for 2022.

The country’s big energy players are also continuing to eye Balkan markets for electricity exports, pundits informed.

Poseidon overland section plan kept alive, PCI status sought

IGI Poseidon, a 50-50 joint venture between Greek gas utility DEPA and Italian energy operator Edison, is keeping alive the development prospects of an overland Greek segment, across northern Greece, for its Poseidon pipeline, to cross the Ionian Sea for a Greek-Italian link.

DEPA and Edison have submitted an application to the European Commission for PCI status concerning the overland section of Poseidon, enabling EU funding support, sources informed.

The Poseidon pipeline’s onshore segment, planned to stretch 760 km across northern Greece, from Kipous in the northeast, to Florovouni-Thesprotia, in the country’s northwest, before crossing the Ionian Sea all the way to Otranto, on Italy’s east coast, is considered an extension of the EastMed gas pipeline plan to link Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Poseidon’s onshore segment could be used to transport natural gas from east Mediterranean gas reserves to Balkan markets.

The Poseidon pipeline’s overland section can also be expected to be linked to the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline, another project involving IGI Poseidon.

The Greek-Italian Poseidon pipeline has been incorporated into a trilateral agreement signed by Greece, Cyprus and Israel for the EastMed pipeline. This pact was ratified in Greek Parliament last month.

Greece, Cyprus and Israel recognize the overland section of the Poseidon pipeline as a project of national significance.

Capacity of the Poseidon pipeline has been increased to 15 bcm from an original capacity of 8 bcm, while a further capacity boost to 20 bcm is planned.

 

Energy groups pressing ahead with natural gas-fired unit plans

The country’s major energy groups are pushing ahead with investment plans for new gas-fired power stations despite the pandemic’s unprecedented impact on the economy and electricity market.

Mytilineos, a vertically integrated group at the forefront of electricity production and supply, began constructing an 826-MW energy center at Agios Nikolaos in the Viotia area, slightly northwest of Athens, last October and is continuing to press ahead with this project.

Investment plans by other players are also maturing. GEK-TERNA is moving ahead with licensing procedures for a 660-MW unit in Komotini, northeastern Greece. The Copelouzos group is paving the way for a 660-MW facility in Alexandroupoli, also in the northeast, while Elpedison is carrying on with procedures for an 826-MW power station in Thessaloniki.

Copelouzos could partner with an investor for the group’s Alexandroupoli project, sources informed.

All the aforementioned corporate groups are positioning themselves in a new energy landscape being shaped by the dominant role of natural gas in the transition towards renewable energy and cleaner energy sources.

This trend became very apparent during the lockdown in Greece. Natural gas and the RES sector covered 60 percent of domestic electricity demand in March.

Power utility PPC is pushing ahead with its decarbonization program without any backtracking, despite the crisis. This is creating a need for new and modern gas-fired power stations.

Furthermore, Greek energy groups are continuing to eye Balkan markets for prospective electricity exports. Electricity generation in the neighboring region has not been satisfactorily upgraded in recent decades, market officials pointed out.

Vertically integrated groups are also eagerly anticipating a new permanent CAT mechanism.

Free webinar covering HPPs in the Balkans next week

A free webinar covering HPPs and their under-development in the Balkans, to feature sector authorities, is scheduled for April 23, 11:00 AM GMT. 

Hydropower in the Balkans accounts for about 50% of the region’s installed capacity, 12.5 GW, generated by 53 middle and large HPPs and 203 SHPPs. The region’s technical potential is estimated to be about 36 GW, three times above the actual usage. More than 30 hydropower investment projects concerning construction, rehabilitation and expansion are planned to be developed in the Balkans over the next five years.

Webinar participants will be informed on:

  1. Overview of the hydropower market, opportunities and forecasts of future development of clean generation in the Balkans;
  2. Most promising projects concerning construction and modernization of HPPs planned for development within 2020-2030 in the Balkan region;
  3. First-hand information on HPP technological improvement and further innovations.

Webinar speakers will include:

  • Željko Ratković, Department of Investments, MH Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske M.P. a.d. Trebinje, to present the topic “Energy Projects of MH Elektroprivreda RS with Relevance to Climate Change”
  • Nevena Djukic, General Manager, Energy portal, to discuss “Renewable energy in Serbia”.

Have no time to join the webinar at the appointed time? Follow the link to register and get the webinar materials. The webinar will be held in English.

Contact Person:

Elizaveta Smirnova

Webinar Producer

ESmirnova@vostockcapital.com

www.hydropowerbalkans.com

 

RAE given 5 months to set Kavala underground gas storage charges

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has been given five months to determine the pricing policy, regulated earnings and WACC for a planned underground gas storage facility at a depleted offshore gas field in the south Kavala region, according to an imminent joint ministerial decision, energypress understands.

The launch date of the project’s tender will depend on funding for project studies through the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program. This essentially means that the privatization fund TAIPED will need to officially launch the project within the first half of this year to avoid missing out on CEF funds.

The project’s investment cost is estimated at between 300 and 400 million euros.

France’s Engie as well as Energean Oil & Gas and GEK-Terna have formed a three-member consortium named Storengy in anticipation of the tender. DESFA, the gas grid operator, is also expected to participate in the tender.

The project, promising gas storage capacity of 360 million cubic meters, is considered vital for Greece as it will be able to maintain strategic reserves for considerable time periods.

Its development will help boost the performance level and strategic role of the Revythoussa LNG terminal just off Athens, and the prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU in the country’s northeast, as these will be able to supply the wider region greater gas quantities via the IGB and TAP gas pipelines.

The south Kavala project has been classified as a PCI project, offering EU funding opportunities, seen as crucial for the investment’s sustainability, according to some analysts.

DEPA set to appeal court verdict ordering ELFE refund

Gas utility DEPA is expected to submit an appeal by Wednesday challenging an Athens Court of First Instance verdict delivered in October that vindicates ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals) for gas supply overcharging claims made against the utility.

The court ruling has ordered DEPA to return a sum of 63 million euros to ELFE for supply between 2010 and 2015 as a result of the application of a pricing formula used by Gazprom, pegging gas prices to international oil prices.

The Athens court ruled the pricing procedure should be based on formulas used by northern Europe hubs, which are not pegged to fluctuating international oil prices.

DEPA, in its appeal, will argue the pricing formula is not a local creation but, instead, used by Gazprom customers in the wider area such as North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania.

The gas utility, in its appeal, will also contend the Greek gas market, still isolated, cannot be compared to those of west and northern Europe as interconnected gas trading hubs operate in these regions.

The case could have wider ramifications for DEPA if ELFE is victorious because other  customers supplied by the Greek gas utility could emerge to dispute the Gazprom pricing formula and also request pricing revisions.

Also, if unsuccessful, DEPA would need to recalculate ELFE’s entire outstanding amount, currently worth 126 million euros.

JinkoSolar signs deal with COSCO for Piraeus port as distribution hub

JinkoSolar, one of the largest and most innovative solar module manufacturers in the world, has signed an agreement with COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Company) to use the Greek Port of Piraeus as a distribution hub for the shipment of its renewable energy products in Europe, and in particular for Greece, the Balkans and the EMEA region, the company has announced in a statement.

COSCO holds a controlling 51 percent stake in the Piraeus Port Authority, operator of the port.

“The Port of Piraeus is the ideal distribution hub to strategically expand JinkoSolar’s logistics and distribution network in Europe,” said Frank Niendorf, General Manager of JinkoSolar Europe. “This partnership with COSCO will enable us to work very closely with our clients in the region by providing an optimized logistics solution that will not only be reliable, timely but most of all, cost-efficient.”

Xudong Su, Managing Director of COSCO SHIPPING Lines (Greece) commented, “Today’s agreement is an important milestone for COSCO. This partnership reflects the trust JinkoSolar has in our experienced team and operations to provide the highest quality E2E Supply Chain Solutions through the distribution hub in the Port of Piraeus. This is a historic collaboration for both companies as we jointly work to generate long-term sustainable growth.”

 

Jetoil placed on the comeback trail by new owner Centracore

Bankruptcy-struck oil trading company Jetoil, now controlled by Austria’s Centracore and on the rebound, has reclaimed approximately 15 percent of the fuel-station network it controlled prior to the rescue plan.

Jetoil now operates 83 fuel stations (DODO, dealer-owned, dealer-operated), primarily in northern Greece, as well as the Thessaly, Epirus and other mainland regions.

At the peak of Jetoil’s crisis in the summer of 2016 – when founder Kyriakos Mamidakis committed suicide, aged 84, not long after the company had filed for bankruptcy – the company’s retail network had shrunk to just 34 outlets.

A Jetoil rescue plan was approved Iast year. Strategic investor Centracore agreed to take on the company’s liabilities following a partial haircut.

Besides a purchase price of 107 million euros, the new Jetoil shareholder has invested 10 million euros to upgrade the company’s storage facility in Kalohori, on the outskirts of Thessaloniki.

Jetoil has increased its sales in Greece and achieved significantly higher exports since its takeover. Total sales for the first financial year since Centracore’s entry reached 420 million euros generated by a trading volume of 350,000 metric tons.

In a year, the company has achieved 35 percent of its business plan’s target, set at one million metric tons of trading volume, or a 10 percent Greek market share, including exports.

The strategic investor, maintaining access to Russian refineries, has admitted the decision to invest in Greece was based on export potential to Balkan markets. Centracore obtained a Greek trading license in July, 2018.

Centracore is a Vienna-based trading company headed by Luxembourg’s UFG Europe Holding, holding an 80.1 percent share and comprised of private equity funds. Russian Petroleum company Rosneft holds the other 19.9 percent.

Greek power producers also eyeing Balkan export potential

The country’s power producers are focusing on the market prospects of  neighboring countries along with a heightened interest in Greece’s electricity market as a result of the upcoming elections, seen bringing the main opposition New Democracy party into power for more decisive reform action at power utility PPC, and intensified market competition.

Investments plans by PPC, currently developing its Ptolemaida V power station, as well as by private-sector enterprises, which have announced plans for five new state-of-the-art units, are expected to create an overabundance of electricity, even of all these plans are not executed. This is one of three main factors turning the attention of power producers to neighboring markets.

Also, it has become clear that Balkan markets lack flexibility in electricity generation as they primarily depend on coal, while gas networks that could support flexible gas-fueled power stations in the region are insufficient.

A third factor contributing to the heightened the interest of local producers for energy-related business in the wider region is Greek power grid operator IPTO’s ongoing upgrade of Greece’s grid interconnections with neighboring countries, especially Bulgaria and North Macedonia, which promises to create greater export potential.

Besides the independent producers, PPC is also looking to capitalize on this export potential.

DEPA awaiting Gazprom news for lower gas price, LNG a market hit

Gas utility DEPA, which has asked for a lower natural gas supply price from Gazprom, can expect a response around June 15, the Russian gas giant has informed.

DEPA was driven to action by extremely low spot-market prices for LNG currently available in Europe.

Major European hubs, such as the TTF facility in the Netherlands, are currently offering prices of 10.928 euros per MWh, compared to Gazprom’s supply contract for the Balkans, including Greece, of approximately 20 euros per MWh.

It remains to be seen how DEPA will respond if the price-related news from Gazprom is not favorable.

LNG is projected to have captured roughly 55 percent of western European energy markets five years from now, up from approximately 40 percent last year, authorities told a recent forum in Brussels.

According to the World Energy Council, LNG will capture a 51 percent share of the global market by 2025, from 25 percent in 2000 and 45 percent in 2018, as a result of new production line investments in the USA, Qatar and Australia.

Lower LNG prices have coincided with an upgrade at the LNG terminal on Revythoussa, an islet just off Athens, resulting in its capacity increase to 220,000 cubic meters. This has enabled bigger incoming shipments.

So far this year, LNG shipments have arrived from Qatar and the USA. More are expected.

Meanwhile, DEPA’s domestic market share for LNG supply is on a downward trajectory and currently at around 30 percent as a result of intensifying competition.

DEPA-Cheniere LNG supply deal negotiations reach advanced stage

Gas utility DEPA and US energy exporter Cheniere have reached an advanced stage in negotiations for a long-term LNG supply agreement that could result in a five-year deal, according to sources.

A 150,000-cubic meter spot-market purchase made by DEPA from the Texas-based company towards the end of last year kindled the current negotiations for a longer-term agreement between the two sides, energypress sources informed.

The US has made clear its interest to establish Greece as a gateway for American LNG into Balkan markets. The US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, has often made reference to the prospect.

A supply agreement between DEPA and Cheniere would further diversify the Greek gas utility’s sources, currently dominated by Russian natural gas and LNG from Algeria.

DEPA has reserved a one-billion cubic meter capacity through the TAP route as of 2020, when the new gas pipeline carrying natural gas from Azerbaijan is expected to begin operating. The prospect should enable DEPA to offer domestic-market customers more competitive prices and further penetrate Balkan markets, via the IGB Greek-Bulgarian pipeline, to connect with TAP.

The ongoing DEPA-Cheniere talks have not swept Algeria’s Sonatrach out of the picture, sources stressed. DEPA’s current supply agreement with Sonatrach expires in 2020 and the two sides are already discussing a renewal.

DEPA agreements with Cheniere and Sonatrach, combined with Azerbaijani gas supply through TAP, promise to place the Greek gas utility in a more favorable position opposite Russia’s Gazprom, its main supplier.

DESFA, Windows International to battle for northern pipeline

Respective applications submitted by Windows International Hellas, an enterprise controlled by Russian entrepreneur Leonid Lebedev, and Greece’s gas grid operator DESFA for the development of a gas pipeline interconnection running from Greece’s north into North Macedonia have both been approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, viewing  the proposals as rival initiatives.

Windows International Hellas and DESFA will now need do to battle for the project’s contract.

RAE had approved the Windows International Hellas application in December, but the news was not disclosed until now, according to sources.

DESFA has been granted conditional approval for its ten-year development plan covering 2017 to 2026, which includes the gas pipeline interconnection, a project budgeted at 48.7 million euros. Full approval remains pending and depends on the results of a required market test.

Windows International Hellas intends to develop the pipeline as an independent natural gas system, which would not burden users, whereas DESFA wants to develop the project as part of the national natural gas system, which explains why RAE has called for a market test. The test will determine if sufficient demand exists to avoid burdening users.

Windows International Hellas wants to utilize the pipeline for coverage of North Macedonia’s domestic needs. The Lebedev-led firm plans to construct a gas-fueled power station, it has been rumored.

DESFA is aiming to connect with networks in other Balkan countries through the prospective gas pipeline.

It is planned to run from Nea Mesimvria in Thessaloniki to Gevgelija in North Macedonia.

 

Name agreement developing Fyrom into ELPE oil hub

A bilateral agreement between Greece and Fyrom (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) for a change of name by the latter to the Republic of North Macedonia is providing further momentum to talks between ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and the neighboring country’s government for the reopening of an oil pipeline stretching 213 kilometers from the Greek petroleum group’s Thessaloniki facilities to its Okta company refinery across the northern border.

The two sides are close to finalizing an agreement for the pipeline’s relaunch, sources informed. The facility was shut down in 2013 when ELPE decided it was no longer feasible to keep it running.

The Greek company used the pipeline as a channel of transportation for crude from its Thessaloniki plant to the Okta unit in Fyrom.

Road networks have been used to supply fuels to Fyrom since 2013 but transportation costs and smuggling activity have risen sharply at the expense of both Fyrom and ELPE, the neighboring market’s main supplier.

Besides supplying the Fyrom market, ELPE’s Okta refinery also promises to serve as a hub for the wider region. Wider growth in Balkan countries over recent years was a catalyst in the ELPE board’s decision to reopen the pipeline to its Okta plant.

ELPE maintains a market presence in Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Fyrom, operating more than 200 petrol stations in total. The pipeline’s reopening is expected to facilitate ELPE’s entry into new markets.