DEPA Commercial gas storage in Italy, Bulgaria, 200,000 MWh

DEPA Commercial has stored away, at facilities in neighboring Bulgaria and Italy, natural gas quantities for a total of 200,000 MWh, slightly less than one third of the 622,440 MWh the company is expected to store through a Preventive Action Plan established by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

DEPA Commercial began its effort by storing natural gas at Bulgaria’s Chiren facility and, over the past 15 days or so, has also been storing away gas quantities in Italy.

DEPA Commercial, like all main gas suppliers licensed to use the country’s gas network, is expected to make these gas reserves available for all of the upcoming winter period, or, more specifically, from November to March.

These gas reserve amounts stocked up through the Preventive Action Plan are planned to play a protective role should Moscow make changes to deliveries of pipeline gas quantities.

Gas suppliers whose imports represent no more than 1 percent of the country’s total gas imports have been exempted from RAE’s gas storage requirement.

DEPA Commercial is Greece’s biggest gas importer, requiring the company to establish gas reserves for 622,440 MWh. The top three include Mytilineos, which must store away gas for 267,900 MWh and Promitheas Gas with 137,940 MWh.

 

European resolve for crisis solution containing gas prices

The growing resolve of European officials to find solutions that could contain gas prices is already producing results, as highlighted by a significant price reduction of just over 30 percent over the past week.

Germany appears to have changed stance by joining EU member states of the south in their call for a cap on natural gas, now being examined by the European Commission following a delay of many months.

Germany’s public admission that a single European solution is needed to counter the energy crisis, an acknowledgment coming after the country previously blocked proposals forwarded by Europe’s south, has swiftly impacted energy markets.

Yesterday’s news of a new Russian gas supply disruption through Nord Stream I, under the pretext of maintenance requirements, did not prompt a further increase in gas prices, as would be expected, but, instead, resulted in a price reduction. The TTF index fell yesterday to 239 euros per MWh, down from a record level of 346 euros per MWh on August 26, a 31 percent drop over the one-week period.

This reduction has filtered through to today’s wholesale electricity prices around Europe. They fell to 635 euros per MWh in France, 571 euros per MWh in Germany, 661 euros per MWh in Italy, and 582 euros per MWh in Greece and Bulgaria. The price level for Greece is approximately 100 euros lower compared to yesterday.

 

September LNG quantities lower but still considerable

Natural gas quantities to be shipped to the Revythoussa islet LNG terminal just off Athens will total 562,000 cubic meters in September, below the 609,000 cubic meters tallied in August, but equally important for the country’s energy sufficiency effort.

A total of six LNG tankers will moor at the Revythoyssa facility this month, bringing in 13 separate orders.

More specifically, Bulgaria’s MET energy has ordered four shipments for 104,000 cubic meters, Motor Oil is expecting one shipment carrying 36,900 cubic meters, Bulgargaz is awaiting two shipments for a total of 110,00 cubic meters, Mytilineos has placed an order for one shipment carrying 147,700 cubic meters, Elpedison has placed an order for three shipments totaling 62,00 cubic meters, and DEPA is expecting two shipments totaling 100,000 cubic meters.

These orders have been placed to support the country’s gas-fueled power stations during these challenging times, and also to cover energy needs in neighboring Bulgaria, which has stopped receiving Russian gas for some months now.

Bulgaria’s caretaker government is seeking to increase LNG quantities received through Greece to take advantage of the Greek-Bulgarian IGB pipeline’s upcoming launch, expected imminently.

The neighboring country is also in talks with Azerbaijan for increased imports. Sofia has not ruled out new gas supply negotiations with Russia’s Gazprom should other solutions prove insufficient.

IGB gas pipeline nearing launch, doubts dismissed

The prospective IGB gas pipeline linking Greece and Bulgaria is believed to be almost ready for its commercial launch, scheduled for October 1, despite recent doubts that were cast over the entire project.

Certain analysts recently questioned whether American LNG supply to Bulgaria, through the IGB pipeline, would go ahead, claiming the new Bulgarian government wants to renegotiate a supply agreement with Russia’s Gazprom.

ICGB AD, the consortium behind the IGB project has announced, in what is seen as a response to the scare, that an auction offering pipeline capacity to users will be held this Thursday through the online platform BALKAN GAS HUB EAD, from 9am to 12pm (Sofia time).

Greek construction company AVAX, developing the project, has set itself an end-of-August objective, which could be stretched to September 8, the latest, to complete pending work and obtain required permits from the Bulgarian authorities.

If all this goes according to plan, the IGB gas pipeline will be ready to operate on October 1.

Greek-Italian grid link repair work subduing power prices

The Greek-Italian grid interconnection’s temporary disruption for repair work is offering partial protection against wholesale electricity price increases in Greece.

The temporary-closure period for the grid interconnection, which has been sidelined towards both directions since August 19, has just been extended until September 3 following a request made by Italy’s power grid operator Terna, according to an announcement made by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator.

Last Friday and Saturday, the wholesale electricity price was 300 euros per MWh higher in Italy compared to Greece.

Under normal conditions, price differences between neighboring markets prompts electricity export activity towards the lower-priced country.

Greek electricity exports were considerable in July, reaching 500 GWh, data provided by IPTO showed. Of this total, 351 GWh was exported to Italy, 253 GWh to Albania, 184 GWh to North Macedonia and 90 GWh to Bulgaria.

Electricity export figures will be subdued in August as a result of the disruption of the Greek-Italian grid interconnection. The link has been closed down for repairs on numerous occasions in recent years.

 

 

European gas storage units nearly 70% full, on course for October target

Europe’s gas storage facilities are estimated to be close to 70 percent full in early August, according to data provided by Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), representing the continent’s gas infrastructure operators.

Europe’s gas storage units continued being filled at a rapid rate in late July, despite the reduction of Gazprom’s gas supply through the Nord Stream I pipeline, now operating at just 20 percent of capacity.

Given the continent’s current gas storage levels, European authorities are confident an 80 percent objective can be achieved by early October. However, storage level discrepancies between EU member states remains a challenge that needs to be dealt with.

German gas storage units are now 70 percent full, while the level in Italy is higher, at 73 percent. On the contrary, gas storage facility levels are far lower elsewhere, registering 48 percent in Bulgaria, 24 percent in Ukraine and 53 percent in Croatia.

Wholesale power price reaches new record level, €466/MWh today

The wholesale electricity market’s day-ahead market price has reached a new record level of 466 euros per MWh for Monday, up from 426 euros per MWh on Friday.

The maximum price has soared to 686 euros, while the minimum price is at 261 euros, demand close to 202 GWh.

Natural gas represents 43.1 percent of the energy mix, followed by renewables (23%), lignite (13%), hydropower (9.5%) and imports (8%).

As for the country’s neighbors, the wholesale electricity price is at 460 euros in Bulgaria and 527 euros in Italy.

 

IGB moves close to launch, ICGB consortium certified

The Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline has moved a step closer towards its launch, expected around the end of this month, following the completion of a certification procedure for the ICGB consortium behind the project.

The European Commission, according to information made available, has approved a certification application submitted by the Greek Regulatory Authority for Energy, RAE, and its Bulgarian counterpart, EWRC.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Bulgarian leader Kiril Petkov will both attend the project’s inauguration ceremony in Komotini, northeastern Greece, this Friday, ahead of the project’s commercial launch towards the end of the month.

The two leaders are expected to highlight this project’s contribution to the EU’s ongoing effort to end the continent’s reliance on Russia’s Gazprom.

The IGB gas pipeline will offer an alternative natural gas route into Bulgaria, initially via the TAP route and, from autumn onwards, through Greece’s gas grid. From 2023, the IGB will serve as a gateway for LNG imports from coastal FSRUs in the region. LNG quantities will reach Bulgaria, Romania, even Ukraine, through pipeline interconnections.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Energy ministry officials in Sofia for EU’s first regional energy platform

A first regional taskforce for cooperation between EU member states on energy matters, as part of the EU’s Energy Purchase Platform, is scheduled to meet in Sofia tomorrow, as announced earlier this week by European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.

The regional taskforce will concentrate on the year ahead and provide specific regional expertise and know-how to develop and implement the REPowerEU action plan to reduce dependency on Russian fossil fuels, fill storage ahead of next winter and further accelerate the decarbonization of the energy sector.

This meeting comes following Russia’s recent decision to disrupt natural gas supply to Bulgaria as well as Poland.

The Bulgarian government has also organized a coinciding meeting of regional ministers. Greece’s energy minister Kostas Skrekas (photo) and the ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou will participate.

The two Greek government officials will be visiting Sofia on the heels of yesterday’s official launch of work on the Alexandroupoli FSRU, an LNG terminal project intended to diversify the energy sources of Greece and the wider region. Yesterday’s official ceremony was attended by heads of state representing Greece, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Serbia.

During their visit to Sofia, the Greek energy ministry’s two officials are also expected to take part in a bilateral meeting with Bulgarian energy minister Alexander Nikolov.

This session’s agenda will examine the progress of the IGB gas pipeline, set to be completed and launched in July, and an electricity grid interconnection upgrade between the two countries, whose completion is expected by the end of this year.

The IGB gas pipeline, promising to contribute to the EU’s effort for drastically reduced dependency on Russian energy sources, will offer a second interconnection between Greece and Bulgaria, in addition to the nearby Sidirokastro link.

 

 

Alexandroupoli FSRU development launch today, pivotal project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Alexandroupoli FSRU project development launch on May 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PM calls emergency meeting after Russia gas cut to Bulgaria

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will hold an emergency meeting this afternoon at the government headquarters with the energy ministry leadership’s participation following Russia’s decision yesterday to disrupt gas supply to Bulgaria, following a disruption to Poland.

The Greek leader had a telephone discussion with his Bulgarian counterpart Kiril Petkov this morning, pledging Greek energy-supply support, within the framework of EU solidarity, following Russia’s decision to disrupt supply to the neighboring Balkan country.

This support will most likely stem from Greece’s LNG terminal at Revythoussa, the islet just off Athens, through a partial reservation of this facility’s capacity for Bulgaria’s needs.

Consumption in Bulgarian at this time of the year is low, meaning supply through the Revythoussa unit should help cover the neighboring country’s needs, at least temporarily.

Bulgarian-based MET Energy has already ordered a 142,500 m3 LNG shipment through the Revythoussa terminal.

Revythoussa FSU 12-month rental or permanent solution

Greek authorities are making comparisons in preparation for a choice between an FSU one-year rental and a permanent floating storage unit at the Revythoussa LNG terminal as part of a plan to boost the country’s gas storage capacity ahead of next winter.

A decision for a capacity boost at the Revythoussa LNG terminal, with the addition of a fourth unit, has already been reached, highly ranked energy ministry officials have informed. A competitive procedure will be staged for the contract.

The option of renting an FSU for the Revythoussa LNG terminal, a facility operated by DESFA, the gas grid operator, would take approximately two months to complete, sources said.

This solution would make operations at the Revythoussa LNG terminal more flexible as it would enable unloading of two LNG orders simultaneously, instead of just one, as is the case at present.

A disruption of Russian gas supply to the EU would force all member states to try and secure additional LNG shipments.

The second alternative, entailing the installation of a permanent floating storage unit at the Revythoussa LNG terminal, would require more time to complete without offering any additional advantages, compared to the FSU rental, energy ministry officials noted.

Officials at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, are comparing market data such as domestic gas demand projections, and also considering Revythoussa’s prospects for a bigger role as a natural gas gateway for neighboring countries. Bulgaria and Romania are already using the Revythoussa terminal for LNG imports.

South Kavala UGS tender’s final round not until early summer

The final round of privatization fund TAIPED’s tender for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north will not be held until early this summer following a latest deadline extension by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on consultation regarding the facility’s business pricing framework, sources closely following the project’s developments have informed energypress.

Prior to this deadline extension, the overall procedure was delayed by several months as a result of a disagreement between RAE and gas grid operator DESFA over supplementary investments that would enable the country’s grid to cater to the needs of the UGS.

Consultation for UGS pricing framework proposals and other details, including DESFA’s ten-year development plan, was to expire on March 14, but RAE has offered participants an extension until March 30.

It is believed RAE’s text forwarded for consultation has been deemed far from satisfactory by prospective investors. If no changes are made, the tender could fail to produce a result, despite its long duration.

Such a prospect threatens to leave Greece as Europe’s only country without a single UGS for many years to come.

Elsewhere, EU member states are rushing to fill their UGS facilities ahead of next winter, following an order issued by the European Commission as part of a plan to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.

The EU has a total of 170 UGS facilities, offering a total capacity of 4.2 trillion cubic metres. Germany tops the list with 60 facilities that represent 42 percent of the continent’s UGS capacity. France follows with 16 UGS facilities, Italy has 13 functional facilities and 7 under construction, while Romania has 8 UGS facilities and Bulgaria one.

 

 

Revythoussa LNG terminal to acquire fourth storage facility

Gas grid operator DESFA is preparing to upgrade its Revythoussa LNG terminal on the islet close to Athens by adding a fourth LNG storage unit at the facility as a means of further reinforcing the country’s energy system for greater energy-crisis protection.

According to sources, the operator has finalized its decision on the plan, to be developed as a floating storage unit (FSU), or permanently moored LNG tanker.

The FSU’s storage capacity is planned to exceed 100,000 cubic meters, almost half the Revythoussa facility’s current 225,000 cubic-meter capacity offered by three existing LNG storage tanks installed on the islet.

Besides bolstering the Greek energy system, the Revythoussa LNG terminal upgrade also promises to create supply opportunities for Balkan markets.

In the event of a disruption of Russian gas to the Balkans, the Revythoussa LNG terminal, as it stands, could cover basic energy needs of the Bulgarian market. The Revythoussa LNG terminal is already supplying Bulgaria.

The terminal was last upgraded in 2018 with the construction of a third LNG tank, a 148 million-euro investment that has enabled transmission of gasified LNG quantities amounting to five billion cubic meters annually.

 

IGB nearing completion, Bulgarian PM to visit Komotini

The Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline, whose construction is expected to be completed by mid-April, promises to contribute to the EU’s effort for drastically reduced reliance on Russian gas.

The IGB gas pipeline, a 50-50 joint venture of the ICGB consortium, involving Greek-Italian company IGI Poseidon (DEPA and Edison) and Bulgaria’s BEH, will run from Komotini, northeastern Greece, to Stara Zagora in Bulgaria and be linked with the TAP pipeline that runs across northern Greece for supply of Azerbaijaini gas to the region.

The IGB pipeline will offer a second interconnection between Greece and Bulgaria, in addition to the nearby Sidirokastro link.

Last week, EU officials announced a new energy strategy, Repower EU, aiming to reduce Russian gas imports to the continent by two-thirds. The establishment of alternative energy supply routes into Europe is now a priority on the Brussels agenda.

Bulgarian prime minister Kiril Petkov is scheduled to visit the IGB project contactor AVAX’s construction site in Komotini this Friday. His Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been forced to miss the occasion after being sidelined by the Covid-19 virus. Energy minister Kostas Skrekas will fill in.

DEPA Commercial plans extra LNG orders for March, April

DEPA Commercial is planning to place extra LNG orders for March and April as a result of higher consumption levels at natural gas-fired power stations, prompted by increased electricity exports, as well as a greater level of natural gas exports to Bulgaria.

The gas company intends to import three LNG shipments in April and is also considering an additional LNG order for this month, which would be shipped in along with a 40,000-cubic meter order placed by energy company Elpedison, scheduled to arrive in just a few days, on March 13.

Should DEPA Commercial go ahead with this latter March order, it would be the gas company’s second for the month. DEPA Commercial has already placed a 73,855-cubic meter LNG order that is due to arrive tomorrow.

Natural gas-fired power stations in Greece have been operating at full capacity in recent times to cover increased electricity exports to neighboring countries, where electricity prices have exceeded those of the Greek market.

Two days ago, electricity exports reached 27.5 GWh, while electricity imports were under 6 GWh.

Additional natural gas exports to Bulgaria in recent times have also prompted the need for more LNG in Greece.

To date, four LNG orders for March, totaling 261,447 cubic meters, have been placed by three companies, DEPA Commercial, Mytilineos and Elpedison.

In general, enterprises are moving cautiously with any extra LNG orders as a result of fluctuating natural gas prices in international markets. Companies placing gas orders at current price levels could be set back millions by any sudden price dip.

 

Greece, Bulgaria in talks for nuclear power supply deal

Greece and Bulgaria are engaged in preliminary talks exploring the possibility of a long-term agreement that would secure fixed amounts of electricity imports to Greece from a prospective nuclear power station in the neighboring country, the Bulgarian government’s deputy prime minister and finance minister Asen Vasilev has told local TV station Nova.

Greek government sources confirmed the news in comments to energypress, noting that talks aiming for such as an agreement have begun.

This would help bolster Greece’s energy security, given the wider insecurity created by Russian’s invasion of Ukraine. Greece would be supplied the majority of electricity produced by the prospective Bulgarian nuclear plant, it is understood.

Bulgaria’s nuclear power company would establish long-term supply agreements with one or more Greek electricity suppliers, sources said.

Early last week, a delegation of Bulgarian ministers visited Athens for a series of meetings, including with Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, energy-sector collaboration between the two countries being high on the agenda.

Physical delivery limit eased for bigger suppliers, except PPC

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has relaxed, as of 2022, a limit on bilateral agreements established by energy suppliers with market shares in excess of 4 percent, which restricted their physical deliveries to 20 percent of total sales, increasing this limit to 40 percent.

However, RAE has maintained the 20 percent limit for power utility PPC until the end of 2022.

RAE had imposed the 20 percent limit on bilateral agreements since the launch of the target model, before extending the measure through 2021.

Virtually all of the country’s vertically integrated energy suppliers have been subject to the restriction.

RAE, in announcing its revision of the limit, noted that new electricity markets have now been operating for a year, achieving sufficient liquidity in the day-ahead market but not in the futures market.

The authority also pointed out that single day-ahead coupling with the Italian and Bulgarian markets in December, 2020 and May, 2021, respectively, have led to satisfactory price-level convergence with southeast European markets.

Bulgaria power imports lower wholesale price, down 12.28%

Wholesale electricity prices in the Greek energy exchange’s day-ahead market have plunged by 12.28 percent, driven down by electricity imports from Bulgaria, following a continual price surge over five consecutive days.

Even so, Greece’s wholesale electricity prices levels are the third highest in Europe. Day-ahead market transactions in today’s day-ahead market will average 250.22 euros per MWh, down from 285.24 euros per MWh a day earlier.

Significant price reductions were also registered throughout Europe, suggesting that a de-escalation process could now be underway following alarm in markets prompted by a sharp drop in temperatures in central and western Europe, as well as windless conditions that restricted wind energy production.

Winds have now lifted, offering increased wind energy contributions to the EU energy mix, which has led to big price reductions in day-ahead markets. Wholesale electricity prices in Belgium and Germany fell by 10 and 22 percent, respectively, and dropped nearly 9 percent in France and by more than 12 percent in Italy.

The plunge in Bulgaria reached 22 percent to 217.25 euros per MWh. This sharp drop in the neighboring market has helped reduce the overall cost of Greece’s energy mix as a result of lower-cost electricity imports from Bulgaria.

For today’s trading, electricity imports constitute 13.42 percent of Greece’s energy mix, renewable energy accounts for 28.31 percent, and natural gas-fueled generation represents 47.24 percent of the mix.

 

 

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 makes waste-to-energy plans, RES moves worth €2bn in Balkans

Power utility PPC plans to develop waste-to-energy plants and also make RES investments in the Balkans worth two billion euros, a bulleting attached to the corporation’s ongoing equity capital raise, offering an update on the board’s strategic plan, has revealed.

The book building process, which began yesterday, will run until Thursday. Investors anticipate that PPC will enter new circular economy activities and also expand its green interests beyond Greece’s borders.

PPC expects to raise 1.35 billion euros through the equity capital raise, which will partially fund the corporation’s ambitious 5 billion-euro investment plan covering 2022 to 2024.

The power utility had initially announced a plan to enter the waste-to-energy sector in 2020 and is now reviving this part of its strategic plan.

This plan is in line with the overall national policy for waste management, developed in response to condemnation by European institutions of Greece for the country’s uncontrolled landfill management.

The power utility is expected to adopt advanced waste-to-energy technologies used in Europe’s north for the development of units making minimal environmental impact.

As for renewable energy, PPC has planned investments worth two billion euros between 2022 and 2026. Of this total, 820 million euros is planned to be invested between 2022 and 2024 and 1.11 billion euros from 2024 to 2026, according to the equity capital raise’s bulletin.

These sums are expected to be used for RES portfolio acquisitions. PPC is aiming for a green portfolio of 7.2 GW by 2024 to include extensive investments in the Balkans. Bulgaria and Romania are being targeted as markets of major potential.

 

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.

 

PPC planning equity capital increase, big funds involved

Power utility PPC will proceed with a 750 million-euro equity capital increase, effectively a partial privatization coming twenty years after a previous round at the bourse that will result in a decrease of privatization fund TAIPED’s current stake in the company from 51 percent to 34 percent.

The company administration’s step back for a minority share, plus management, aims to maximize the participation of foreign institutional investors, who, along with local investors, are expected to easily cover the equity capital increase’s financial demands.

US, British and northern European funds are among the interested parties, private talks held over the past six months, at least, have indicated, energypress sources informed.

Blackrock, EBRD, Fidelity, Apollo, Carmignac, Twenty Four AM, Bluecrest, Pictet, Union Investments, Sona Asset Management, Barings, Aperture, Saba Capital and Vontobel are funds that could be involved, it is believed.

The equity capital increase paves the way for the influx of capital that will contribute to PPC’s 8.4 billion-euro investment plan until 2026, currently ranked as the most ambitious in the Greek market.

Besides the installation of RES units with a total capacity of 8.1 GW, PPC also aims to branch out into the Balkans, beginning 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.

Positive start for Greek, Italian, Slovenian intraday coupling

The coupling of the Greek, Italian and Slovenian intraday markets took a positive first step yesterday with a successful trial. According to Greek energy exchange sources, the transition from local intraday auctions (LIDAs) to regional intraday auctions (CRIDAs) covering the three countries was successfully completed.

Two complementary CRIDAs have been staged without any problems, while a third session is scheduled to take place early today.

The first CRIDA session ended with electricity price levels at 149.64 per MWh, 14.31 percent below the LIDA auction level recorded a day earlier. The initial CRIDA session’s transactions represented a total electricity amount of 2.53 GWh.

As a result of the market coupling, intraday market transactions will no longer be limited to domestic restrictions but will also utilize the capacity of the Greek-Italian grid interconnection left over once electricity import and export activity, through day-ahead markets, has been completed by the two neighboring countries.

Utilization of the grid interconnection’s leftover capacity will offer greater flexibility to suppliers, producers and self-supplying consumers.

The coupling of the Greek, Italian and Slovenian intraday markets represents a first step towards European intraday market unification.

It is planned to be followed, on March 8, by Greece’s entry into the European Cross-Border Intraday Market (XBID), offering continual intraday market transactions, via Italy and Bulgaria.

PPC to partially absorb power costs, Brussels action imminent

Power utility PPC has decided to pursue a policy that will partially absorb electricity market price increases prompted by a volatile combination of unfavorable factors.

The utility plans to limit the impact of carbon emission costs and not pass on the entirety of their effect to consumers.

Competitors will either have to follow suit and subdue price hikes, which will hurt their financial results, or risk suffering market share losses.

The response of PPC’s rivals remains unclear at this stage. Marker players are now trying to estimate the duration of this unfavorable period of elevated prices.

Natural gas prices have surged, driven by Russia’s decision to slow down gas supply to Europe, presumably to pressure Brussels into brushing aside its reservations about a new Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany. Also, CO2 emission costs have continued to rise.

CO2 emission cost futures contracts for December are stuck at levels of between 61 and 62 euros per ton, while analysts forecast levels of 65 euros per ton over the next few months, or possibly longer.

Given these factors, analysts believe it is a matter of time before the European Commission intervenes in an effort to deescalate market price levels by subduing CO2 emission costs and increasing its pressure on Moscow for a return to normal gas supply levels to Europe.

Otherwise, market conditions will become increasingly volatile with social repercussions, especially in countries experiencing extreme price increases that have been even greater than those in Greece.

In Bulgaria, for example, wholesale electricity prices have skyrocketed to more than 100 euros per MWh, well over the country’s usual levels of about 30 euros per MWh.

Greek-Italian-Slovenian intraday market coupling in autumn

Market coupling of the Greek, Italian and Slovenian intraday markets has been scheduled for September 21 through complementary regional intraday auctions (CRIDAs), a further step towards full unification of the European electricity market.

This market coupling move promises to bolster the liquidity of Greece’s intraday market, which has remained subdued since its launch several months ago, while also easing balancing market burdens of participants.

A liquidity boost in the intraday market is necessary for optimal management of intermittent production, as is the case with most RES units.

Greece’s coupling with Italy and Slovenia constitutes the first step in this direction, the intention being to avoid significant discrepancies for RES units and costs they cause.

The degree to which this coupling step will impact Greece’s intraday market remains to be seen, given the limited capacity of an existing subsea cable linking Greece and Italy, offering 500 MW.

This interconnection will require a capacity boost if high-level intraday market activity is to be achieved, as the infrastructure will need to be able to facilitate physical deliveries of electricity amounts ordered.

Also, the interconnection’s leftover capacity for intraday market trading will depend on the level of electricity import and export agreements established through the preceding day-ahead market.

For example, if, on certain days, the interconnection’s capacity is entirely taken up for day-ahead transactions, then intraday market trading will not be possible.

A second step in the coupling of Greece’s intraday market is planned with the country’s entry into the continual XBID (Cross Border Intraday) market with Italy and Bulgaria, planned for the first quarter of 2022.

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.