ELPE-Edison granted extra 18 months for troubled Patras license

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, the local partner of Gulf of Patras license in western Greece, has been granted an 18-month extension to complete second-phase work at the license. Project delays have been attributed to inadequate port infrastructure and bureaucracy.

ELPE, joined by Edison as a consortium partner for this hydrocarbon project, requested more time to complete the second phase, including exploratory drilling.

The consortium was expected to conduct its first drilling operation at the Gulf of Patras license this year but has been slowed down by insufficient port facilities at the regional Patras and Astakos ports, as well as environmental licensing procedures, according to sources.

ELPE and Edison require adequate port facilities, including storage, to ship in the project’s drilling equipment.

The Gulf of Patras drilling operation is seen as a project that could prompt further hydrocarbon investments, especially if this field’s probable oil deposit, estimated at 140 million barrels, is confirmed.

Bureaucracy and a lack of strategic planning for development of the country’s upstream sector has kept investors at a distance, oil company officials and industry experts have repeatedly noted over a number of years

The regional infrastructure’s inability to serve this venture’s needs has frustrated officials. The Gulf of Patras tender was launched back in 2012.

A previous extension had given the ELPE-Edison consortium until April 2, 2018 to complete the project’s second phase. This deadline has now been extended to October, 2, 2021.


Licensing delays, bureaucracy ruining RES investment plans

Renewable energy sector players may have been able to absorb the cost of bureaucratic delays in the past, but market changes, shaped by auctions, no longer allow for such latency, meaning investments plans could well be cancelled amid the new conditions if license applications continue being delayed, sector officials have stressed at an investment conference staged by SEV, the Hellenic Association of Industrialists.

Highlighting the bureaucratic obstacles in the sector, major energy groups such as Mytilineos and Terna Energy are currently developing or completing wind energy project investments licensed about 15 years ago as a result of various delays prompted by authorities.

“Two months have gone by since we submitted an application for a production license to RAE [Regulatory Authority for Energy] and we have yet to receive a response. I would have expected a quicker reaction for a 350 million-euro investment,” remarked Dinos Benroubi, the energy division head at the Mytilineos corporate group.

Greek licensing procedures for wind energy projects appear to be even more complicated than those concerning thermal facilities, or natural gas fueled power stations, it was noted at the SEV conference.

Participants explained that, amid the current conditions, energy groups aiming to concurrently strive for multiple licenses concerning many RES projects would need to maintain oversized teams just for RES sector matters.

Employees at forestry and archaeological services are capable of severely holding up RES investment plans, despite the availability of funds, conference participants noted.

Though the Greek State assumed the responsibility of developing offshore wind energy farms nearly a decade ago, not a single such project has been developed, despite the wider investor interest, participants reminded.

All too often, renewable energy investment plans are blocked by cases filed at the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, even by non residents, it was also pointed out.