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.

 

DEPA placing extra LNG order for bigger Revythoussa terminal

Gas utility DEPA is making arrangements with Algeria’s Sonatrach for a considerable additional LNG order to fill a new third storage tank at the upgraded LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, once the facility’s imminent commercial launch is staged.

This LNG shipment, entailing part of a 130,000-cubic meter order, comes as an addition to scheduled deliveries for the winter season’s heightened demand.

DEPA is now awaiting the LNG terminal’s launch, which has been delayed by a few weeks, to proceed with its extra Sonatrach order. The gas utility is keen to move ahead with the order as soon as possible to avoid any price fluctuations in the European energy market, currently volatile.

According to latest estimates, the upgraded Revythoussa terminal is expected to begin operating – commercially – in the second half of December, despite a preceding official launch ceremony, planned for November 22.

The terminal’s new storage tank will offer a 95,000-cubic meter capacity, boosting the facility’s overall capacity to 225,000 cubic meters. The upgrade promises to create new gas export potential to Balkan and southeast European markets.

According to a study conducted by Greek gas grid operator DESFA, the new Revythoussa terminal will be able to cover 30 percent of gas import needs in the Balkans, Slovenia and Hungary.

The US is currently seeking European gateways for shale gas exports. Besides catering to American gas trading interests, the upgraded Revythoussa terminal could, in the medium term, also facilitate gas quantities stemming from rich Cypriot and Israeli sources in the east Mediterranean.

 

Heatwave, unfavorable factors prompt energy crisis meeting

The country’s grid capacity is set to be seriously tested for the first time this summer over the next few days when temperatures around the country are forecast to soar to levels of at least 37 degrees Celsius, which is sure to prompt widespread and heavy use of air conditioning systems and lead to a surge in electricity demand.

This anticipated early-summer heatwave will coincide with a combination of unfavorable temporary factors limiting electricity generation.

A crisis team comprised of RAE (Regulatory Authority for Energy), DEPA (gas utility), DESFA (gas grid operator) and IPTO (power grid operator) officials will convene for an emergency meeting today, energypress sources informed, to discuss energy supply as the heatwave nears.

The LNG terminal at the Revythoussa islet off Athens is currently closed for expansion work, now in progress. The Greece-Italy interconnection linking the grids of both countries is temporarily closed until June 21 for maintenance work. The anticipated increased reliance on air conditioners during the heatwave will require greater electricity output from the country’s gas-fueled power stations. Also, higher electricity prices in regional markets have prompted local traders, lured by the higher prices, to increase Greek electricity exports to the north.

Participants at today’s emergency meeting will seek solutions ensuring the grid’s ability to meet heightened electricity demand over the next few days.

CO2 emission right costs have risen over the past three months, especially in May, while fuel and natural gas price levels have also climbed to remain at elevated levels.

These developments have sharply increased prices of electricity futures markets contracts both in Germany, guiding European developments, and in regional markets impacting Greece, namely Hungary, which shapes prices in Balkan countries interconnected with Greece, as well as Italy, a key market also interconnected with the Greek grid.

In Germany, wholesale electricity prices rose by approximately 10 euros per MWh in a month. In Italy, current electricity futures contracts concerning delivery in July are being established at levels of around 75 euros per MWh.

These regional price increases are already impacting the Greek market, where the System Marginal Price, or wholesale price, averaged 56.33 euros per MWh in May. June contracts are being established at 59 euros euros per MWh.

RAE and the country’s operators see all these factors as severe warnings which prompted the need for today’s meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wholesale power prices rise, perilous times for suppliers

Increased wholesale electricity prices in Europe, still only partially reflected in the Greek market, are increasing the challenges faced by local suppliers.

CO2 emission right costs have risen over the past three months, especially in May, while fuel and natural gas price levels have also climbed to remain at elevated levels.

These developments have sharply increased prices of electricity futures markets contracts both in Germany, guiding European developments, and in regional markets impacting Greece, namely Hungary, which shapes prices in Balkan countries interconnected with Greece, as well as Italy, a key market also interconnected with the Greek grid.

In Germany, wholesale electricity prices rose by approximately 10 euros per MWh in a month. In Italy, current electricity futures contracts concerning delivery in July are being established at levels of around 75 euros per MWh.

In Hungary, energy supply term contracts covering all of 2019 (CAL-19 contracts) rose by 6.3 percent in May, from 47.45 euros per MWh to 50.78 euros per MWh. Compared to price levels in March, the cost of CAL -19 contracts has increase by 22 percent, from 41.65 euros per MWh to 50.78 euros per MWh.

These regional price increases are already impacting the Greek market, where the System Marginal Price, or wholesale price, averaged 56.33 euros per MWh in May. June contracts are being established at 59 euros euros per MWh.

Worse still for independent suppliers, the starting price at the country’s next NOME auction, next month, will be significantly increased.

Higher price levels in regional markets have made electricity exports a more attractive prospect for local traders, resulting in further upward pressure on local prices.

Given the current market conditions, lofty price levels reached at previous NOME auctions no longer look as bad, officials at independent supply firms have told energypress. Elevated NOME auction prices of 45.2 euros per MWh reached at the end of 2017 are no longer regarded as lofty and will soon be reminisced, independent supply firm officials said.

NOME auctions were introduced in Greece nearly two years ago to offer independent suppliers access to the main power utility PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydrocarbon sources.

It remains to be seen whether independent suppliers, especially smaller players, will be able to handle these wholesale price increases as they push to penetrate the retail market. Export and trading will offer suppliers some profit opportunities but, at current wholesale price levels, most firms, including PPC, are incurring losses in the local retail supply market.

Under normal market conditions, wholesale price increases lead to higher retail prices. But this is not so in the Greek electricity market, still distorted. State-controlled PPC, the dominant player, does not set its retail prices based on cost but political decisions taken at the energy ministry, keeping electricity price levels lower than they should be.

This market distortion is affecting the ability of independent suppliers to compete and gain more respectable retail market shares as they are forced to follow PPC and keep their price offers low.

An upcoming reduction of the RES-supporting supplier surcharge will offer independent suppliers some relief, but it does not appear to be enough to offset the higher wholesale prices, while CAT payments paid by suppliers are expected to be reintroduced.

 

 

 

 

Coral entering natural gas supply market, eyeing Balkans

Motor Oil Hellas subsidiary Coral’s (Shell) plan to enter the natural gas market and penetrate the Balkan and Cypriot regions was highlighted at a company event yesterday, held to mark the launch of a Coral company bond.

The company, which currently holds a 23 percent share of the fuels market and maintains a network representing 15 percent of the market, made clear its natural gas market aspirations.

“We have acquired a retail [natural gas supply] license and aim to utilize our network’s retail systems. We already have our first two [major] clients,” Giorgos Hatzopoulos, general manager at Coral, noted at the event, adding that trial runs are now being conducted for supply to a further 18 major-scale customers. “We will enter the retail natural gas market and, potentially, those of other energy forms,” he added.

Last year was significant for Coral as the firm began operating beyond Greece for the first time. This foreign activity was launched in Cyprus through the firm’s acquisition of Lukoil’s network of 31 retail outlets, holding an 8 percent share of the market. Coral aims to increase this Cypriot presence to 15 percent and 50 outlets within the next two years.

Besides Cyprus, Coral also acquired one retail outlet in Serbia. In just a few days from now, Coral expects to launch an additional outlet in Belgrade and follow up with the opening of a station in Novi Sad, Serbia’s second largest city.

Coral also holds the rights to use the Shell brand name in Montenegro and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom).

Coral plans to use its storage facilties in Kalohori, slightly west of Thessaloniki, to develop its market presence in the wider Balkan region.

Besides Kalohori, Coral also maintains company-owned storage facilities in northern Greece’s Kavala and Alexandroupoli, the Piraeus port city’s Perama district and Hania in Crete, all offering a total capacity of 150,493 cubic meters.

Coral expects its sales performance to reach 2.4 billion euros this year, from 1.94 billion euros last year, as a result of the rise in fuel prices and the firm’s entry into the shipping fuel market.

Coral posted an EBITDA (operating profit) figure of 44 million euros in 2017. This year, the company plans to make investments worth 35 million euros for the development of eight new refuelling stations in Greece, primarily at highway locations, as well as investments in the Balkans and Cyprus.

Over the past five years, Coral’s investments have averaged 17 million euros per year. The firm has invested a total of 85 million euros, mostly to replan its network.

 

 

 

 

Conditions in Italy, Balkans seen subduing NOME prices

Electricity suppliers taking part in this Wednesday’s second NOME auction for the year believe that appropriate conditions exist for a subdued price in the 30-something euros per MWh range, but unusual factors that would drive the price level to at least 40 euros per MW, which the suppliers hope will be avoided, cannot be ruled out.

The price at the year’s first NOME session reached 41.45 euros per MWh, while the price at the closing sesson for 2017 rose to 45.2 euros per MWh.

Current market conditions in Italy, the Balkans and central Europe – regions to which local NOME participants expect to export some electricity amounts to, permitted by the current NOME rules – are expected to help subdue prices at this Wednesday’s auction.

Normally, electricity prices are not elevated during summer periods, as is reflected by futures contracts covering the next three months.

The large electricity amount to be offered at the April 18 NOME auction, totaling 400 MW/h, is also expected to help keep bidding prices lower. The same amount is also planned for the next session, scheduled for June 18.

In addition, certain suppliers currently hold leftover NOME-related electricity amounts that have remained untilized. Consequent expenses, such as mandatory deposit payments for unused amounts and fines if this non-utilization period exceeds two months, push suppliers to sell excess amounts in the secondary market, even at below-purchase prices.

On the other hand, demand and prices could be driven higher on Wednesday if participants fear limited NOME amounts at future sessions, assuming all proceeds smoothly with the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required disinvestment of lignite units and, as a result, the government reaches an agreement with the lenders for reduced NOME amounts at future auctions.

NOME auctions were introduced in Greece about a year and a half ago to offer independent players access to the state-controlled PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydropower sources.

 

 

Balkan hydrocarbon collaboration discussed at Athens conference

The prospect of collaboration between state hydrocarbon companies was raised by Yiannis Bassias, chief executive of EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, at the Balkans Petroleum Summit, held in Athens October 3-4 by global event organizer IN-VR Oil & Gas.

The summit brought together state hydrocarbon authorities, regulators and international oil company officials for a discussion on exploration and production projects, as well as an exchange of ideas on future hydrocarbon projects in the Balkans.

Bassias, as part of his contribution to the event, also underlined the similarities and differences between methods favored by Balkans countries in dealing with the resurgence of Balkan region interest by the international industry over the past seven years.

The importance of midstream projects and new infrastructure, need for reprocessing exisiting data and coordination for common regional petroleum targets, achievable only through information exchange by Balkans states, were among the topics addressed at the event.

Participants unanimously agreed that the EU hydrocarbon directive should be used as a guiding mechanism for a framework of common business practices.

The panel agreed to stage a follow-up meeting in the near future and meet annually.

Other participants included: Vladan Dubljevic, Executive Director of the Montenegrin Hydrocarbon; Milica Zorić, Head of Geology and Mining Division of the Ministry of Mining and Energy of Serbia; Florina Sora, Senior Advisor of the National Agency of Mineral Resources of Romania; Ilia Gjermani, Director of Petroleum Department of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy of Albania; and Hazim Hrvatovic, Director of the Institute of Geology of the Federal Ministry of Energy of Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

 

 

Greece crucial in west’s effort to limit Russian energy influence

The US is increasingly viewing Greece as a platform capable of supporting American energy interests in the wider region, a development that would stifle Russia’s current energy-related dominance. This outlook ultimately upgrades Greece’s geostrategic role in the region.

This American perception of the wider region was made clear yet again yesterday by the US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, during a speech delivered at the “1st Oil & Gas Forum” in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece. The event was organized by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.

Signs of growing intervention by Russia in the domestic affairs of Balkan countries have prompted US officials to increase their monitoring of the region.

Closer ties being established between Balkan countries and the west, combined with the development of energy projects supporting western interests, promise to reduce the Balkan region’s energy dependence on Moscow, currently as high as 90 percent.

Pyatt, during yesterday’s energy conference in Alexandroupoli, noted that an attempt made last year to prevent Montenegro from becoming a NATO member – the accession process was completed just months ago, in June – was propelled by Russian concerns over Russia’s  potential loss of influence in energy regions. This remark reiterated a recent comment made on the issue by US Vice President Mike Pence.

Montenegro is now a NATO member, the new Fyrom (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) government appears to be distancing itself from the previous administration’s pro-Russian position, while Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia all find themselves at different stages along the EU accession course.

Energy projects of western interests, which, once completed, promise to reduce the region’s reliance on Russia, are now in full progress. Many of these projects carry Greek dimensions.

One of these, the TAP natural gas pipeline, to pass through Greece’s north, Albania and the Adriatic Sea across to Italy, promises to reform energy security in southeast Europe, Pyatt, the US Ambassador to Greece, told yesterday’s energy conference.

Pyatt expressed concerns over delays holding back the development of the IGB Greek-Bulgarian gas grid interconnection and extolled the roles to be played by a prospective FSRU in Alexandroupoli and extension of the existing LNG facility on Revythoussa, an islet just off Athens.

 

PPC preparing for new attempt to penetrate Balkan markets

PPC, Greec’s main power utility, is preparing to make a new attempt at penetrating the Balkan market, the corporation’s chief has told the recently launched weekly Nea Selida.

As part of the effort, the utility plans to participate in an upcoming international tender offering two hydropower facilities in Turkey, while similar moves are being planned for the Albanian market, according to PPC chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis.

The power utilty’s entry into the wider Balkan market, gaining pivotal importance as the EU energy market moves towards full intergration, is imperative for the Greek corporation’s future, Panagiotakis stressed in the interview.

PPC is aiming to heighten its activity in the Turkish market by establishing synergies with enterprises in the neighboring country, Panagiotakis noted without elaborating further.

Many pundits believe that PPC will seek to penetrate the Balkans with the backing of Chinese business partners. For quite some time now, the Greek utility has made clear its anticipation of and reliance on Chinese capital as a key towards entering Balkan markets following unsuccesssful attempts going back over a decade.

PPC made its first attempt in 2003 when it sought to enter the Romanian market. A series of other efforts ensued, all proving unsuccessful.

Albania, where PPC has established a subsidiary, needs to have its network developed, while thermal units also need to be constructed as the country’s network is heavily reliant on hydropower facilities.

 

Free CO2 emission rights for Balkan units would spell bad news for PPC

The development of coal-fired power stations in the western Balkans, combined with their provision of free carbon emission rights, as is being anticipated by the countries planning these units, would come as bad news for Greece’s main power utility PPC, now preparing a bailout-required list of carbon-fired power stations to be placed for sale.

A market test will be conducted after summer to determine the level of investor interest in these PPC units. The prospect of free CO2 emission rights for carbon-fired power stations in neighboring Balkan countries would certainly diminish the overall investor interest in PPC’s equivalent units. Consequently, PPC hydropower stations will need to be added to the Greek utility’s sales list.

Plans by former Yugoslav states to develop ten coal-fired power stations in the western Balkan region suggest that these countries are relying on qualifying for free carbon emission rights offered by the European Commission to less developed countries.

Otherwise, these prospective coal-fired power stations would not be sustainable when eventually incorporated into the EU’s ETS (Emission Trading Scheme). Carbon emission right costs are expected to keep increasing as a means of encouraging electricity generation investments in other technologies and help the EU reach climate change targets.

Free CO2 emission rights are made available to less affluent European states as a transitional measure to help them shoulder the cost of needed infrastructure upgrades.

It is estimated that the annual CO2 emissions of prospective western Balkan coal-fired power stations could reach 23.7 million tons. Given the anticipated rise of emission right costs, the ventures would not be sustainable.

Though these western Balkan countries have yet to be included in the ETS, all have expressed an interest for EU membership. EU accession talks with Serbia and Montenegro are believed to have reached an advanced stage.