Kavala gas storage unit an independent grid project

A prospective underground gas storage facility at a depleted offshore gas field in the south Kavala region will operate as an independent grid project, the energy ministry has decided, sooner than expected, through a joint ministerial decision reached following a favorable opinion offered by the Legal Advisor of the State.

Just weeks ago, the ministry had indicated it would soon launch a tender for the project’s development but defer a decision on whether the storage facility would operate as an independent or national grid project. However, a deferral may have led to ambiguity, unsettling investors.

As a next step, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will head an effort for the preparation of a cost-benefit analysis in cooperation with the privatization fund TAIPED, the objective being to complete this study as quickly as possible.

Concurrently, TAIPED intends to begin preparations for an international tender offering the project’s development, usage and exploitation rights for a period of up to fifty years.

TAIPED will most likely stage the tender in June, energypress sources informed.

Besides private-sector investors, the tender will also be open, under equal terms, to Greek gas grid operator DESFA and its stake holders.

Local authorities are pushing to make up for lost time and secure financing for this PCI-categorized project through the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility.

 

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.

South Kavala gas storage facility facing tough PCI schedule

Despite being regarded as pivotal infrastructure for the country’s energy sector, a prospective underground gas storage facility at a depleted offshore gas field south of Kavala has remained stagnant in recent months, prompting fears that the required momentum needed for utilizing related wider developments could be lost.

The project’s inclusion on the EU’s PCI list offers financing opportunities, which, according to certain analysts, are crucial for the investment’s sustainability. However, this privilege comes with a strict schedule that must be maintained.

If the underground gas storage project is to qualify for funding offered by the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program, then authorities must submit a related application within 2020.

This essentially means a project promoter must be selected to prepare a business plan and apply for financing, all within the second half of this year.

Also, a tender for the storage facility’s privatization will need to be staged by privatization fund TAIPED by the end of the first half, experienced officials have pointed out.

A joint ministerial decision establishing a legal framework for the facility’s operation will need to precede the sale procedure. In addition, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, must, prior to the privatization, establish general guidelines determining pricing policy, regulated earnings, WACC, and a minimum capacity vacancy level that investors will need to maintain for national security reasons.

The chances of CEF financing are now starting to tighten up as the month of January is just about gone and there is no sign of a joint ministerial decision. When delivered, it should serve as a catalyst for ensuing initiatives.

 

 

 

 

 

Ministry amendment to unblock Kavala storage legal complexity

The energy ministry has prepared a legislative amendment needed to overcome a legal complexity that has emerged concerning the development of an underground gas storage facility in the offshore South Kavala region through the utilization of a depleted natural gas field.

The amendment, which could be submitted to parliament today, will not lead to any fundamental changes concerning the project but purely focuses on resolving the legal obstacles obstructing its development, sources informed.

Once ratified, this amendment will pave the way for the publication of a related joint ministerial decision in the government gazette ahead of the asset’s eventual privatization.

Meanwhile, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, needs to prepare general guidelines determining the project’s pricing policy, regulated earnings, WACC level, as well as a minimum capacity level that will need to be kept vacant by the project’s investor for national energy security reasons.

RAE will have three months to prepare the guidelines once the joint ministerial decision has been published in the government gazette.

TAIPED, the privatization fund, has received an amount worth 1.6 million euros from the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to finance engineering studies required for the underground gas storage facility ahead of the privatization tender. This financial development was included in a updated Asset Development Plan (ADP) presented by TAIPED a fortnight ago. The investment’s cost is estimated between 300 and 400 million euros.

France’s Engie, 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.

New effort for East Med agreement at Athens energy summit

Greek gas utility DEPA and Italian energy giant Edison, collaborating on a plan to develop the East Med pipeline, envisioned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli natural gas systems, are looking to take a crucial technical step ahead of construction.

Their YAFA Poseidon joint venture – spearheading the ambitious project, a 1,900-km pipeline stretch with an investment cost of between 6 and 7 billion euros – is gearing up for the launch of FEED (Front-End Engineering Design), environmental and detailed underwater research studies.

The European Commission has approved 34.5 million euros from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a funding instrument, for these studies. The CEF amount will cover half the cost of the aforementioned preliminary studies, which will push the plan ahead to a mature stage.

The pipeline project is planned to carry southeast Mediterranean natural gas, primarily deposits from Cyprus’ recently discovered “Aphrodite” gas field and the Israeli-controlled block “Leviathan”, along a route stretching from Israel to Europe.

An agreement between Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy, where the pipeline is planned to conclude, is still needed.

East Med plans have been at a standstill ever since the current Italian government announced it was stalling the project.

According to sources, the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli energy ministers will seek to restart procedures and also send out a message of encouragement to the Italian government when they meet at an Athens energy summit tomorrow. US Assistant Secretary Francis Fannon will also participate.

East Med, still at a theoretical stage, promises geostrategic might for Greece, Cyprus and Israel, as well as the USA, on southeast Mediterranean energy matters, especially against Turkey’s opposition to hydrocarbon exploration within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The pipeline plan also promises to break Russia’s dominance of gas supply to the EU.

 

 

Crete link national development ‘will not burden consumers’

A separation of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project from the wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli interconnection, appearing highly likely, will not financially burden Greek consumers but instead offer surcharge-related benefits, leading energy ministry officials told energypress on the sidelines of the just-completed Delphi Economic Forum.

Swift development of the Crete-Athens link, as a national project, promises to spare consumers of public service compensation (YKO) surcharges costing approximately 400 million euros per year, energy ministry officials stressed.

These YKO surcharges are added to electricity bills to cover high-cost electricity production at power facilities maintained on non-interconnected islands.

The Crete-Athens grid will cost the country roughly one billion euros to develop, regardless of the development option chosen, the energy ministry officials supported.

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli project, has claimed a withdrawal of the Crete-Athens grid project from the consortium for development as a national project would deprive Greece of EU funding worth 355 million euros from the CEF (Connecting Europe Facility).

Electricity consumers in Greece will need to cover this amount through increased network surcharges over the long term, the Euroasia Interconnector consortium has warned.

The Delphi Economic Forum was held to identify and assess global trends and their impact on decision makers of the wider eastern Mediterranean region.

IPTO plans Crete link tender for Euroasia’s neglected 39%

Greek power grid operator IPTO has announced it will stage a tender offering investors, especially European operators, a stake in Ariadne Interconnector, an SPV established by the grid operator for the development of a Crete-Athens interconnection.

The move was prompted by the neglection of a pre-emption right, for a 39 percent stake in the SPV, by Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project. Euroasia Interconnector had been set a December 31 deadline to accept the offer for 200 million euros.

IPTO and the Cypriot consortium have been embroiled in a dispute for control of the wider grid interconnection project’s Crete-Athens segment.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, which appointed IPTO project promoter of the Crete-Athens link, required to prevent a looming energy shortage threat on Crete, will need to approve IPTO’s plan for a tender before this procedure can go ahead.

Euroasia Interconnector will now need to participate in IPTO’s prospective tender should it ultimately decide to become involved in the development of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

IPTO has already begun contacting European energy transmission operators, Manos Manousakis, chief executive at IPTO, informed yesterday. The Greek operator had approached Belgium’s Elia and France’s RTE in the past. A new invitation for their participation cannot be ruled out.

Euroasia Interconnector is widely expected to launch a legal challenge.

Earlier this month, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete forwarded a letter to Greek energy minister Giorgos Stathakis informing him that RAE’s decisions have led to delays in the wider PCI project, according to Greek daily Kathimerini.

The commissioner has apparently asked Greece to decide whether the Crete-Athens grid interconnection will be developed as a PCI project, enabling EU funding advantages, or as a national project, which would eliminate the project’s promoter from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a key EU funding instrument. The repercussions would spill over onto tariffs paid by consumers.