Gasoline sales down 40% this month, poor year for fuel sector

The liquid fuel market has been the hardest hit energy sub-sector in 2020, as highlighted by poor sales figures for December, by far the worst month of this year’s pandemic-affected sector results.

Gasoline sales are expected to end December 40 percent lower compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, car diesel sales are forecast to drop 15 percent, while heating fuel demand has slumped by 50 percent this month compared to this time a year earlier.

Overall, liquid fuel sales are projected to end 40 percent lower in December and 6 percent for the year.

Heating fuel demand for the year is projected to end up 20 percent, a development attributed to considerable purchases made last April by households, who made the most of lower prices.

Though Greece’s current lockdown has permitted motorists to circulate within their regions until an evening curfew, the forbiddance of longer-distance movement, from province to province, has been a major setback for auto fuel sales.

In addition, the pandemic-induced slump of the tourism sector, a major source of revenue for Greece’s fuel market, has also impacted fuel sales.

Looking ahead, petroleum firm projections for the first quarter of 2021 are not optimistic. Sector players believe lockdown restrictions will continue to be enforced.

A recent 7 percent tax increase on auto fuel, to support green energy, is another setback for the liquid fuel market. Prices, at the pump, will rise by 3 cents per liter.

 

Strong market test turnout for DEDDIE sale, 18 players in all

A total of 18 prospective bidders have taken part in a market test staged by Goldman Sachs for power utility PPC’s forthcoming sale of a 49 percent stake in subsidiary firm DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator.

The list, forwarded by Goldman Sachs to PPC, includes investors already familiar to the Greek market such as US firm Blackrock, specializing in transportation and energy infrastructure long-term investments; prominent infrastructure funds; as well as many European operators.

France’s Engie and Italy’s Enel, both often linked with the DEDDIE/HEDNO sale, were not among the 18 market test participants, sources informed.

Interestingly, no previous market test staged to gauge interest in the prospective sale of any Greek State asset has generated such a strong turnout.

Authorities behind DEDDIE/HEDNO’s partial privatization hope this more than promising response for the market test will result in intense bidding competition and a higher sale price.

A clear picture on the number and identity of the sale’s participants will become apparent on January 29, the deadline for the procedure’s first round official expressions of interest.

Officials have attributed the strong market test interest to five key factors: the operator’s new regulatory framework; an elevated WACC level of 6.7 percent for 2021 to 2024, well over levels of between 2.5 and 3 percent offered by other European operators; strong confidence in the governance of the country, pivotal for long-term investments; good timing, as, at present, no other network operator in Europe is up for sale; and a massive accumulation of global capital currently available for investment as a result of numerous lockdowns imposed in many parts of the world since March.

The Greek government will aim to complete DEDDIE/HEDNO’s partial privatization in the first half of 2021.

 

PV market faces severe shortage, higher prices and shipping costs

Solar panel supply has dried up in the Greek market, as is also the case throughout Europe, creating difficulties for PV investors, big and small, who are seeking to develop solar parks ahead of RES auction deadlines or to secure non-auction tariffs.

The solar panel market shortage has been attributed to a significant increase in PV installations, both globally as well as in China, essentially the world’s sole PV producer.

Investors already committed to tariff contracts are subject to major solar panel delivery delays, while others now making efforts to purchase equipment needed to develop their solar parks are unable to find delivery dates any sooner than the third quarter of 2021.

Besides the market shortage of solar panels, shipping containers from China have also been hard to come by, possibly as a result of a sharp increase in the trade of electronic goods during the pandemic, prompting higher transportation costs.

Solar panel prices have also risen considerably, compared to levels last summer, which has caused business plan issues for prospective green-energy producers.

China has announced a five-year PV installation plan to run at an annual rate of 65 GW from 2021 to 2025. Also, global PV demand is soon expected to reach 200 GW, annually.

Quite clearly, solar panel production, for the time being, cannot meet demand. This shortage is expected to last until at least the end of the first half in 2021.

 

 

 

Schools, airlines, heating fuel to contain lockdown effects on fuel

Fuel market officials are hoping certain lockdown exemptions, such as the non-closure of primary schools, plus airline traffic and heating fuel demand, will result in smaller losses for the sector compared to the country’s first lockdown earlier this year.

If the latest measures remain as they stand for the lockdown’s duration of at least three weeks, beginning last Saturday, then the decline in fuel sales is expected to be far milder than the 45 percent reduction experienced during the country’s first lockdown, implemented last March, fuel market officials have projected.

Seasoned authorities estimate the fuel market’s reduction in sales could reach 20 percent.

The ongoing transportation by parents and guardians of primary school students to school, continuation of flights, as well as greater heating fuel needs of household members kept in by the lockdown, are all expected to help contain the drop in fuel sales.

Though these factors may offer fuel professionals some consolation, the fuel market is entering uncharted territory as the eventual duration of the lockdown remains unknown.

Also, a large number of households have yet to recover from the financial consequences of the first lockdown. Their budgets will have tightened.

ELPE lockdown impact fears expressed amid poorer conditions

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE chief executive Andreas Siamissis has expressed fears of the latest lockdown’s impact on fuel consumption, which he will believes will be considerable, during a presentation of third quarter results to analysts.

Narrowed refining margins, which dropped to historic lows during the third quarter, combined with a drop in demand, resulted in unprecedently difficult conditions, ELPE officials noted.

However, rays of hope have emerged for an imminent improvement in refining margins, they added.

Elpedison, ELPE’s joint energy venture with Italy’s Edison, registered a strong power generation performance, up 31 percent in the nine-month period, aided by competitively priced LNG for its production units, company officials informed.

Electricity sales rose by 5 percent, while operating profit reached 43 million euros, from 15 million euros a year earlier.

As for the natural gas market, the commercial activity of gas utility DEPA, in which ELPE holds a 35 percent stake, increased in the third quarter.

DEPA – whose two new entities, DEPA Commercial and DEPA Infrastructure, are both headed for privatization in a procedure that is expected to be completed by March, 2021 – reported a 3Q volume-based sales increase of 48 percent. Its EBITDA figure moved up to 18 million euros, up from 6 million euros a year earlier.

ELPE’s list of imminent RES projects has more-than-doubled compared to last year, the company officials informed.

PPC awaiting first securitization deal cash injection this month

Power utility PPC, seeking to financially bolster in anticipation of tougher pandemic-related market conditions, expects, within November, to benefit from an initial collection of approximately 150 million euros following two securitization agreements reached last summer with JP Morgan and Pimco for unpaid receivables.

This forthcoming initial cash injection, expected to eventually reach as much as 200 million euros, concerns a small-scale securitization package, for unpaid receivables of up to 60 days, reached between PPC and JP Morgan early last summer.

PPC then established an additional deal with Pimco for longer-term unpaid receivables of more than 90 days, expected to rake in up to 300 million euros, for a combined securitization total that may ultimately reach 500 million euros.

The power utility expects to receive about 200 million euros from the Pimco deal in December or January. This means PPC should have received a total of about 350 million euros in initial payments from JP Morgan and Pimco by no later than the end of January.

This amount promises to serve as a safety net in the coming months of market insecurity and tightened cash flow, and, in addition, partially fund PPC’s new business plan.

Currently being worked on, and expected to be far more ambitious than a previous version delivered at the end of 2019, PPC’s new business plan should be announced around mid-December.

It is expected to feature swifter RES project development and lignite unit withdrawals, as well as more ambitious electromobility initiatives.

The 500 million-euro securitization amount will certainly be needed for these investments.

Energy companies, including PPC, look to reinforce ahead of tough winter

Energy sector companies, including power utility PPC, are looking to financially reinforce ahead of what is likely to be a challenging winter in terms of cash flow.

Though overall market activity is clearly better compared to last March, when lockdown measures were introduced in Greece, persisting four-digit figures for new domestic coronavirus cases and hints of tougher pandemic measures in Athens, as is already the case in Thessaloniki, leave no room for complacency.

PPC, fearing stricter lockdown measures could last a while, is working intensively to collect some 500 million euros stemming from two securitization packages for unpaid receivables by late November or early December. The company is also intensifying its hunt for payments from consumers regarded as able but unwilling to service electricity bill arrears.

The power utility has a number of fronts to cover financially. Firstly, the company has offered employees voluntary exit packages as part of its decarbonization drive to phase out lignite-fired power stations. PPC is also preparing to make the first of a number of major RES investments. The utility is also in the midst of a successful and fast-moving effort to reduce debt owed to operators – power grid operator IPTO; distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO; and RES market operator DAPEEP; as well as sub-contractors.

PPC’s total debt to third parties, which was at a level of 900 million euros in July, 2019, was reduced to approximately 650 million euros in June and fell further to 580 million in a latest measure.

The company aims to reduce this debt figure to 550 million euros by the end of the year. However, tougher lockdown measures would probably slow down this debt-reduction effort.

Repsol given 6-month extension for Ioannina license preliminary work

A pandemic-related extension request made by Spain’s Repsol for an additional six-month period to complete preliminary research concerning a license in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, has been granted by EDEY, Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, in a decision reached last week that resets the deadline for April 2, 2021.

Repsol, operator of a consortium formed with Energean Oil & Gas for the Ioannina license, had lodged its extension request late in August.

Repsol’s preliminary research work at the Ioannina license was initially expected to be completed by early October ahead of a decision on whether it would proceed with drilling.

The pandemic has severely impacted the upstream industry worldwide. Multinationals engaged in hydrocarbon research and production activities have severely limited their investment plans as a result of the pandemic’s impact on petroleum markets.

A rebound for the upstream sector appears highly unlikely any time soon given the rising second wave of coronavirus cases.

The EDEY extension will enable Repsol to conduct a more thorough analysis of seismic data collected and enable the company to hold on for the prospect of improved upstream industry conditions.

EDEY justified its extension by noting it will help the investors complete their assessment of technical work conducted during the preliminary stage.

 

 

Household PV producers still awaiting decision for new plan

Electricity consumers interested in installing solar panels with capacities of up to 6 kWp on rooftops for the sale of production to the grid are being forced to keep waiting as a result of a delayed ministerial decision, despite the ratification of related legislation in March.

This ministerial decision was planned for June but the emergence of other priorities at the ministry, including preparations for a subsidy program supporting electric vehicle purchases through the EU’s post-pandemic recovery plan, has delayed this decision’s delivery.

Legislation was approved in March to once again enable household consumers to sell their self-produced electricity to the grid at a set price. An older program, concerning solar panels of up to 10 kWp for both households and businesses, expired on December 31, 2019.

The new legislation sets a selling price of 87 euros per MWh, or 8.7 cents per KWh, for domestic PV producers. 

The pending ministerial decision is expected to fine-tune various installation details.

The new program enabling households to sell their self-produced PV output to the grid should be ready for launch by autumn, barring no further delays.

Industrial consumers preparing to leave long-time supplier PPC

Three of eight industrial groups traditionally supplied high-voltage power by power utility PPC and holding contracts that expire at the end of this year are involved in advanced talks with domestic independent suppliers for new supply contracts, energypress sources have informed.

PPC dominates the high-voltage electricity market with a 97 percent share, but this figure could drop considerably if industrial consumers reach agreements with new suppliers.

Leading cement producers AGET Heracles and TITAN, as well as Macedonian Paper Mills (MEL), are the three industrial consumers involved in talks with independent suppliers for high-voltage contracts, the sources noted.

All three have never before held contracts with any other electricity supplier, but their shifts away from PPC, probably not concurrently, now appear highly probable. Such a development would signal the start of competition in Greece’s high-voltage electricity market.

Lower wholesale prices, which have widened profit margins, as well as lower natural gas prices lowering generation costs at gas-fired power stations operated by independent producers, are key factors behind the likely shifts of industrial consumers to independent suppliers.

Industrial producers, gearing up for the post-coronavirus era, are seeking lower energy costs but are not satisfied with the tariff levels offered by PPC, market officials have noted.

High-voltage power demand up during lockdown, exchange data shows

Industrial high-voltage electricity demand during lockdown in Greece registered an unanticipated increase, rising by 12.46 percent in March, 21.86 percent in April, 30.62 percent in May and 19.71 percent in June, all compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, according to figures provided by the energy exchange.

Prior to lockdown, high-voltage electricity demand registered a milder 2.46 percent increase in February compared to the same month a year earlier.

Overall, in the first half of 2020, demand for high-voltage electricity rose by 14.87 percent compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, the energy exchange figures showed.

On the contrary, demand for mid-voltage and low-voltage electricity between February and May fell to lower levels compared to last year, according to the energy exchange data, reflecting inequalities in the impact of the pandemic on various economic sectors.

Mid-voltage electricity demand slumped 18.89, 22.43 and 22.08 percent in April, May and June, respectively, compared to the equivalent months a year earlier.

In the low-voltage category, concerning households, electricity demand fell considerably during the five-month period from February to June, registering drops of 6.08, 10.96, 19.1, 12.77 and 18.45 percent, respectively.

Figures provided by power grid operator showed an overall decrease, for all categories, of 4.3 percent in the first half of 2020 and a high-voltage demand decrease of 9.4 percent.

Over €500m secured for new energy efficiency upgrades fund

Greece has secured over 500 million euros for a third “Saving at Home” subsidy program promoting energy efficiency upgrades of homes. This amount will stem from a sum of 32 billion euros allotted to Greece through the EU’s new post-coronavirus recovery package, energypress sources have informed.

The new program, to offer generous incentives to medium and high-income earners, will be set an objective to annually upgrade 60,000 homes into smart homes. This target could be raised to 80,000 homes buildings, according to some sources.

Smart energy management systems, electric vehicle recharging units and roof-mounted solar modules are among the projects to be eligible for subsidized funding through the new third round of the Saving at Home program, to be officially announced within the next few days ahead of a September launch.

The third Saving at Home program is expected to be followed by a long series of new-generation programs to become available from 2021 over a three-year period as part of a national strategy, now being shaped, to be funded by Greece’s 32 billion-euro share of the EU post-coronavirus recovery package.

According to energy ministry estimates, annual sums of at least 750 million euros are expected to be injected into smart home upgrades between 2021 and 2023, project activity that should reach a sum of between 2 and 2.5 billion euros.

EU recovery fund compromise cuts into JTF for lignite end

A significant contraction of the Just Transition Fund that has resulted from a major compromise deal just reached between the EU’s north and south for a huge post-coronavirus recovery package has raised questions about the decarbonization effort’s financing and ability to progress smoothly.

A sum of 30 billion euros initially planned by the European Commission to be offered to lignite-dependent EU members states for their transition to cleaner energy will be cut to 10 billion euros.

A variety of post-coronavirus recovery sub-funds have been reduced in size, including the JTF, established to support Europe’s decarbonization process.

Prior to the compromise deal, a European Commission proposal had been made to increase the JTF amount for the EU’s lignite-dependent members to 40 billion euros from an initial sum of 7.5 billion euros.

Subsequently, Greece now stands to receive a few hundred million euros for its  decarbonization policy following an earlier estimate for a sum of 1.7 billion euros. The loss for Greece is worth approximately one billion euros.

The recovery package talks over the past few days saw a split between nations hardest hit by the virus and “frugal” members who were concerned about costs.

The deal centers on a 390 billion-euro program of grants to member states hardest hit by the pandemic. Italy and Spain are expected to be the main recipients.

It is the biggest joint borrowing ever agreed by the EU. Summit chairman Charles Michel described it as a “pivotal moment” for Europe.

 

Power demand dives 14.61% in June as tourism slumps

Electricity demand slumped 14.61 percent in June, compared to a year earlier, despite the month’s lifting of lockdown measures, latest Greek energy exchange figures have shown.

June’s drop in power demand, attributed to the unprecedented decline in tourism activity, was even bigger than the declines registered in April and May, 13 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Numerous hotels and other tourism industry units have not opened for business. Also, flight bans were essentially not lifted until the beginning of this month.

Responding to the drop in electricity demand, energy producers have restricted output by 16 percent.

Natural gas and renewables dominated electricity generation in June. Natural gas-fueled generation covered 36.56 percent of demand, while RES production covered 26.43 percent, the energy exchange’s June report showed. Electricity imports covered 23.93 percent, hydropower 7.43 percent and lignite-fired production 5.64 percent.

 

 

Consumer shifts between independent suppliers at 30%

Roughly 30 percent of electricity consumers shifting from one electricity supplier to another are not moving away from the power utility PPC, as was usually the case up until just a few months ago, but from one independent supplier to another, a reflection of a further increase in competition, to the benefit of consumers, latest market data has shown.

Besides price offers, consumers are now also taking into consideration other factors such as supplier reliability, service standards and provision of supplementary services when choosing suppliers. This broader consideration is seen as a sign of the electricity market’s growing maturity.

Independent suppliers now face bigger bad debt figures as a result of an increase in unpaid receivables prompted by a number of factors, including business closures, consumer departures despite unpaid electricity bills, payment defaults, as well as tax file number changes by consumers seeking escape.

The scale of this undesirable situation for independent suppliers is nowhere near that of the enormous collection problem faced by PPC.

However, the bad debt problem highlights that independent suppliers, as a consequence of their efforts to boost market shares, are now dealing with a growing number of unreliable consumers. It also underlines the market’s tightened cash flow, especially in the business sector, as a result of the pandemic and recession.

Ministry still examining Energean Prinos rescue plan

The energy ministry is continuing its close examination of a business plan delivered by Energean Oil & Gas for the rescue of its Prinos offshore oil field in northern Greece, requiring investments totaling 75 million euros in 2020 and 2021 if the venture is to be kept afloat following the negative impact of  lower oil prices and the pandemic, according to the company.

“The ministry is continuing to examine the data provided by the company as well as the business plan. They have determined the size of the necessary funds at 75 million euros but we, too, need to verify this,” an energy ministry official informed.

Early signs of a petroleum market rebound are encouraging but this does not mean that the market has fully recovered, the official added.

The ministry acknowledges the potential damage closure of the oil field would have on the local economy and, as a result, is looking for solutions, the official added.

Energean officials have stressed that time is running out for the oil field’s rescue, urgently needing a solution to remain viable.

The government will need to utilize the EU’s temporary state aid framework to ensure financial support for the Prinos oil field, Greece’s only producing field at present, and its necessary investments.

PPC secures financial relief, cash injections worth €300m

Power utility PPC is reinforcing its financial position for protection against challenges already brought about by the coronavirus crisis and ones not yet fully apparent.

The corporation’s board has approved moves worth 300 million euros, including restructuring of high-cost loans, in an effort to boost its liquidity.

Financial tools and alternative borrowing sources have once again become available to the corporation following its return to profit territory and growth prospects.

Investors and banks are expressing renewed faith in PPC, as was made clear yesterday by three decisions taken by the utility’s board promising to inject about 300 million euros into the company.

CEO Giorgos Stassis and his board approved a JP Morgan offer worth between 200 and 250 million euros for unpaid receivables by customers in the low and mid-voltage categories. This package of unpaid receivables totals 260 million euros and concerns amounts overdue for no more than 60 days. The financial services company is offering an interest rate of 3.5 percent over a three-year period. Bonds will be issued by PPC through an SPV.

Also, the country’s four main banks, National, Alpha, Eurobank and Piraeus, have accepted a request by PPC for a delay in the payments of two 25 million-euro installments, respectively due June 30 and December 31, for a one billion-euro, five-year bond issued in 2018. The systemic banks, showing faith in PPC, agreed to receive these payments when the bond matures in 2023.

In addition, PPC has further diversified its borrowing sources. The board approved an Optima Bank proposal for a 15 million-euro debenture loan with floating six-month interest.

 

‘Energy ministry policies crucial in effort to revitalize economy’

The energy ministry’s policies promise to play a pivotal role in the challenge faced by the government to revitalize the national economy following lockdown, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has noted in an article featuring in GREEK ENERGY 2020, the energypress team’s latest annual publication covering the Greek energy sector.

Action is already being taken by the ministry through a decisive energy-sector agenda that aims for growth and is fully aligned with the European Green Deal, now a key economic growth tool throughout Europe, the minister notes.

New financial tools such as an EU recovery fund, worth 750 billion euros, according to a European Commission proposal, are designed to help the EU achieve its goal of transition towards a zero-emission economy through support for the gradual elimination of fossil-fuel dependence, RES growth and energy savings, the minister writes.

Greece is ready to make the most of this EU support package, effectively an additional NSRF funding program for the country promising capital worth around 32 billion euros, in order to achieve sustainable green-energy growth, according to Hatzidakis.

Besides decarbonization and RES development, other aspects incorporated into the energy ministry’s wider plan include:  electromobility growth; a third Saving at Home subsidy program for domestic energy-efficiency upgrades; reforms for greater competition, transparency and more attractive price offers in the energy market; reduced industrial energy costs; and energy-sector privatizations, the minister notes.

 

Crisis’ impact on Prinos looked at, Energean up against time

The energy ministry has turned to specialized consulting firm assistance for a detailed analysis on the pandemic’s financial impact on the Prinos offshore oil field in northern Greece, the country’s only producing field at present.

The energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou, handling the matter on behalf of the ministry, is currently holding talks on a daily basis with officials at Energean Oil & Gas, the field’s license holder.

The company wants emergency government support amid the extraordinary market conditions, energypress sources have informed.

The two sides are believed to be closely examining related data to determine the extent of the financial damage, for this project, due to the plunge in international oil prices, prompted by lower demand amid the widespread lockdown.

Energean Oil & Gas has invested 50 million euros between September, 2019 and May to keep production flowing at Prinos, an aging field, sources noted.

Sustainability is becoming a growing challenge at this venture, employing a workforce of approximately 270 employees, market authorities have noted. A cutdown in operating costs is seen as essential.

A cash injection for “Epsilon”, a fresher field in the area also licensed to Energean, could be made as a support for the company. Another option may entail financial support by the Greek State in exchange for a stake in Energean. Alternatively, state guarantees could be offered for a bank loan.

The finance ministry is also expected to become involved in the Prinos rescue effort. Much work lies ahead before any decisions can be reached. These will require European Commission approval.

Eurelectric calls for supplier protection against consumer debt

Sector association Eurelectric, representing the common interests of the electricity industry at a European level, has delivered a list of proposals focused on protecting companies against the pandemic’s financial impact.

The association’s proposals include compensation for suppliers as well as their protection against excessive consumer debt resulting from the crisis.

The association recommends the establishment of state support programs to help consumers cover the costs of outstanding electricity bills.

Eurelectric also calls for a monitoring effort to identify possible energy shortages and lack of personnel at energy companies.

The association wants appropriate measures adopted to counter major financial impact anticipated by energy companies as a result of reduced electricity demand and prices. Government measures supporting energy-transition investment plans of companies have also been requested.

Other Eurelectric recommendations include the establishment of a long-term RES plan offering clarity and security for investors.

The association also points out the need for a mechanism designed to recover excessive debt related to the coronavirus crisis.

 

PPC rivals awaiting utility’s next pricing move for response

Power utility PPC’s rivals are awaiting the utility’s next pricing-policy move before responding with offers of their own. A specially priced three-month package offered by PPC, the electricity market’s dominant player, to its customers as lockdown relief expires on June 26.

Lower wholesale electricity prices over the past couple of months as well as more efficient facility management by PPC, drastically reducing production from loss-incurring lignite-fired power stations, are two factors expected to enable the utility to keep offering appealing packages to customers, sector experts have told energypress.

An initiative taken by PPC during lockdown to equate usually higher tariff rates for consumption of more than 2,000 kWh with rates for consumption below the aforementioned limit could be an indicator of things to come from the power utility.

The market’s major independent suppliers are believed to have studied all possible scenarios in preparation for their respective responses.

PPC chief executive Giorgos Stassis has made clear the power utility’s intentions to regain part of its lost market share. The utility is expected to target specific customer profiles. In addition, bonus services may also be included in packages.

 

 

 

 

Energy exchange launch date rescheduled for September 17

The energy ministry is set to reschedule the energy exchange market’s launch date for September 17, two-and-a-half months beyond the original June 30 date, following commitments made yesterday, during a virtual conference, by the power grid operator IPTO and Hellenic Energy Exchange (HENEX) administrations on the delivery of information systems and time required for trial runs.

The energy ministry is now expected to soon deliver a related ministerial decision, probably next week, setting the new schedule for the target model, or, more specifically, the energy exchange’s spot markets.

The compatibility of platforms and other applications being co-developed by the Greek energy exchange and IPTO for the balancing market is seen as crucial to the success of the new schedule.

As has been previously reported, a delay in the delivery of a balancing market platform to IPTO by General Electric, commissioned this project, has been a key factor behind the inability of officials to meet the original June 30 launch date.

A GE team that was stationed in Athens for this project left the country without notice, citing the possibility of greater pandemic danger ahead, in reaction to the outbreak.

IPTO, now closely coordinating with GE for a specific delivery date following the relaxation of lockdown measures, has promised to gradually deliver required information systems as of this month, prompting Greek authorities to set a new launch date.

According to the new schedule, certain trial runs testing combined energy exchange and IPTO systems will begin on June 22. Simulated testing, or a dry run, of all systems is expected to start on August 3 and last until markets are actually launched on September 17, given no issues arise.

Petroleum sector rebounding, Motor Oil deputy tells

The petroleum market is now rebounding, a trend reflected by rising sales figures in May, Motor Oil’s deputy chief executive Petros Tzannetakis has told analysts during a virtual conference.

The official, responding to a related question, expressed cautious optimism for the petroleum sector’s performance this coming summer.

“Greece’s successful management of the pandemic can attract tourists. The borders have been opened and, at the same time, demand for gasoline is rising. I am cautiously optimistic,” Tzannetakis said.

It is currently not possible to make predictions on aviation fuel demand, he noted.

Motor Oil proved to be durable and resilient amid the pandemic’s unprecedented demand and price collapse for petroleum products, the deputy chief noted. The  corporate group’s major debt reduction and high-level liquidity played a key role, he pointed out.

Record sales figures in preceding years contributed to the corporate group’s resilience during the lockdown period, he explained.

Gov’t examining pandemic’s impact on Prinos oil field

The pandemic’s financial impact on offshore Prinos, Greece’s only producing oil field, south of Kavala, is being closely examined by government officials and specialized advisors, energypress sources have informed.

Conclusions have yet to be reached on the extent of the financial damage to the Prinos oil field, licensed to Energean Oil & Gas, but it appears the government will seek financial support for this venture through the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition.

Though it is still considered too early for any decisions, the government has apparently already recognized the damage inflicted on Prinos by the pandemic and subsequent drop in demand and oil prices.

The Greek government has pledged production continuity and job protection for Prinos, as was recently highlighted by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas.

Limits have been exhausted to keep Prinos operating, Energean Oil & Gas officials have pointed out, stressing the cost burden on the company.

 

PPC chief delivers favorable news on a number of fronts

Power utility PPC, undergoing gradual transformation, expects to have amortized the cost of an initial voluntary exit plan for lignite-unit workers within six months, while amounts owed by the corporation to a series of third parties are being reduced, chief executive Giorgos Stassis informed analysts during a conference call yesterday, following a presentation of first-quarter results.

The cost of an initial voluntary exit package concerning approximately 1,000 PPC employees working at lignite units in northern Greece, is estimated between 30 and 35 million euros.

Stassis offered positive news on a number of fronts, including electricity-bill payments and cash flow, service digitization, securitization of unpaid receivables, and the ongoing implementation of a five-year business plan.

Online payments by customers now represent 30 percent of transactions, an 80 percent increase since the beginning of the lockdown measures, while 18,000 customers per day turn to the corporation’s call center for information, up from 5,000, maximum, prior to the lockdown, the company boss informed.

PPC has chosen the current period to launch its initial voluntary exit plan in order to determine, within the next two-and-a-half months, how many of its 4,000 or so employees working at lignite-fired power stations and mines will take up the offer, offering severance pay totaling 35,000 euros.

State-controlled PPC wants to organize personnel transfers as part of the country’s decabonization process.  Vacant positions will be filled by workers to be transferred from PPC’s Amynteo facilities, planned to shut down in September, and Kardia, whose withdrawal is expected in 2021.

Electricity-bill payments by customers, down 18 percent in March and 14 percent in April, have rebounded to pre-lockdown levels since May, the chief executive informed.

Amounts owed to contractors, suppliers, operators and other third parties have fallen to 650 million euros from 900 million euros, Stassis said.

A small-scale securitization package for unpaid receivables up to 60 days will be offered in June or July, he added.

 

 

Electricity demand down 12.6% in April, industrial use slumps 23.6%

Electricity demand slumped 12.6 percent in April compared to the same month a year earlier, the biggest drop registered by high-voltage industrial consumers, forced to suspend or restrict output during the lockdown, power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report has shown.

Industrial electricity consumption in April fell sharply by 23.6 percent, the IPTO report showed.

The drop in electricity consumption linked to mining activity was even sharper, falling 55.5 percent in April. Besides the lockdown, this drop was also attributed to significant operational restrictions implemented at power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power plants.

Electricity generation in April fell by 3.2 percent, to 2,893 GWh compared to 2,990 during the same month a year earlier, according to the data.

This reduction was mild compared to major shifts observed in sources of generation. Lignite-based generation fell by 62.7 percent year-on-year, confirming, most emphatically, the commencement of PPC’s decarbonization effort.

High costs for lignite-based generation severely reduced the operational time of PPC’s lignite-fired power plants, limiting lignite’s share of the electricity production mix to just 10 percent in April.

On the contrary, the production share of interconnected RES facilities, benefiting from favorable conditions, rose sharply by 33.9 percent, year-on-year, to capture a market-leading 36 percent share of overall electricity generation in April.

Natural gas-fired power plants followed with a 30 percent share following an 11 percent year-on-year rise in output.

Electricity imports (grid interconnections) contributed 18 percent, while hydropower facilities increased their output by 19.8 percent to capture a 6 percent share in April.

PPC provided 951 GWh, or 56.6 percent of the production, while independent producers covered 43.4 percent.

Among the independent producers, Mytilineos led the way with 228.1 GWh, followed by Elpedison (210.4 GWh), Korinthos Power (154.1 GWh) and Heron II (136.3 GWh).

The IPTO data on generation highlights an increasing shift towards cleaner energy sources.