DEPA Commercial, Egypt’s EGAS negotiating gas deal

Gas company DEPA Commercial is negotiating an agreement with state-controlled Egyptian gas firm EGAS for LNG supply, just weeks after Greek and Egyptian officials established a joint technical committee as a first step for the development of a Greek-Egyptian electricity grid interconnection.

Energy dealings between the two countries will be discussed at a meeting today in Cairo between Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas and Egypt’s minister of petroleum and mineral resources Tarek El-Molla. Also, DEPA chief executive Kostas Xirafas will meet with the EGAS administration.

The Greek energy minister is also taking part in today’s 6th EastMed Gas Forum, in Cairo, along with his counterparts from Egypt, France, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the State of Palestine.

An announcement of a Greek-Egyptian gas agreement, following today’s sessions, has not been ruled out.

The prospect, promising DEPA Commercial greater diversity of sources and lower costs for its customers, has acquired greater significance as the EU finds itself embroiled in an intensifying energy crisis.

Greece and Egypt have also established a joint Exclusive Economic Zone, the recent agreement for the development of a Greek-Egyptian electricity grid interconnection emerging as a first step.

Paving the way for LNG bunkering in Cyprus

A technical workshop was organised by the EU co-funded project Poseidon Med II on the afternoon of 10th November during the EMC 2021 Conference and Exhibition, in Nicosia. This was an onsite live event aiming at disseminating the Action’s milestones while presenting the synergies in the gas sector that Poseidon Med II has fostered on the island and the wider Eastern Mediterranean area. 

With more than 40 registered attendees, the event was opened by Ms Eliana Charalambous Tanos, Acting Permanent Secretary to Mr Vassilis Demetriades, Shipping Deputy Minister to the President. At her speech she underlined the strategic importance of LNG to Cyprus while explicit reference was made to the Fit for 55 EU package and the framework currently being shaped by the regulators on decarbonization and climate change. 

Mr. G. Polychroniou, Executive Director, Strategy & Business Development at DEPA COMMERCIAL SA addressed the audience afterwards with an introductory note on what the project has achieved to date, also expressing the view that LNG is not a transitional fuel but rather a viable option that will strengthen the position of East Med in the pathway towards a low carbon economy. 

Mr. N. Argyrou, General Manager from Bunkernet undertook the role of Moderator giving the floor to 4 highly respected panelists, to position themselves on the future energy prospects of Cyprus by answering a series of questions. 

Dr. Solomonidis, Chairman of the BoD at Rogan Associates shared in his presentation the project’s activities from the side of infrastructure with a primary focus on the new LNG bunkering position at Vassiliko terminal. He also commented on the contribution of PMED II towards the readiness of the infrastructure in Vassilikos to receive LNG, but also on the next steps required to promote LNG as a marine fuel on the island. 

Dr. Kassianides, Chairman at Cyprus Gas Public Company (DEFA) confirmed that bunkering is certainly a priority for DEFA and they shall invest in relevant functions in the near future. As regards to the gas reserves found, Dr. Kassianides supported that quantities are still small to monetize the reserves but did not exclude any of the future scenarios if the market conditions are positive.

Mr. M.Demetriades, Non-Executive Director at Fameline Holding Group commented on the new project of Navigas under the Fameline Group called ‘BlueHubs’ and expressed the firm commitment of the Group to stay close to the party building the LNG terminal. He also pinpointed that Cyprus is a big ship management centre. 

Mr. Zacharias Siokouros, CEO at the Cyprus Marine & Maritime Institute (CMMI) concluded the panel discussion with an insight on the current and future projects that the Institute is involved to support the energy vision of Cyprus. A flagship initiative is the establishment of the Cyprus Decarbonisation Hub to foster new collaborations and research on alternative fuels and technology advancements in shipping.

 

 

DEPA Commercial sale on hold over crisis, ELFE case concerns

The government appears likely to defer the final binding-bids stage in the 100 percent privatization of gas company DEPA Commercial, fearing negative impact as a result of the energy crisis, and also taking into account an unresolved legal dispute between the gas company and fertilizer industry ELFE.

The government wants, for the time being, to keep control of DEPA Commercial as part of its defense effort against the energy crisis’ price surge.

Three weeks earlier, the finance and energy ministers announced that state-controlled DEPA Commercial would absorb 15 percent of natural gas price increases as part of the government’s effort to soften the effect of the energy crisis on consumers.

The gas company’s unsettled legal dispute with ELFE, the fertilizer industry, is the other major factor behind the government’s hesitation to press ahead with the final stage of DEPA Commercial’s privatization.

The government will not move on to the final stage of the DEPA Commercial privatization until the gas company’s dispute with ELFE is over, sources informed.

ELFE is seeking compensation from DEPA, contending the gas company overpriced gas supply between 2010 and 2015, while DEPA has filed a case seeking overdue amounts from the fertilizer producer, based in Kavala, northern Greece.

Suppliers commend power bill subsidies, disapprove DEPA Commercial support

Energy suppliers have commended the government’s subsidy support package for electricity bills, stating the initiative is headed in the right direction, but, on the contrary, disapprove government intervention offering support to state-controlled gas supplier DEPA Commercial that will enable the company to absorb 15 percent of the natural gas cost increase.

This support offered to DEPA Commercial affects competition and the market’s overall functioning, rival gas suppliers protested. “DEPA Commercial may be a state-controlled company but this does not spare the firm from having to comply with free market and competition regulations,” a rival company official remarked. “The government’s move raises competition issues,” the official added.

As for the electricity bill subsidies, these will protect consumers from having to carry the entire burden of the surge in prices, while, on the other hand, suppliers will benefit from some cashflow relief as they will be requiring greater capital amounts at present and in the mid to long term, suppliers added.

 

 

 

DEPA Comm., ELFE appeals this week, key for privatization

An Athens Court of Appeal will, on Thursday, hear three appeals submitted by gas utility DEPA and fertilizer industry ELFE following a Court of First Instance verdict in 2019 concerning an ongoing legal dispute between the two companies.

ELFE is seeking 302 million euros in compensation from DEPA, contending the gas company overpriced gas supply between 2010 and 2015.

DEPA has also filed a case seeking 86.7 million euros from the fertilizer producer, based in Kavala, northern Greece, in overdue amounts. The Court of First Instance had issued a verdict trimming this amount to 60 million euros. It is now the turn of the Athens Court of Appeal to decide.

Much attention is being paid to this case as, should it drag on, it could impact the ongoing 100 percent privatization of DEPA Commercial. In addition, a decision vindicating ELFE can be expected to also prompt other gas consumers to file overpricing cases against DEPA.

If the legal battle is prolonged, TAIPED, the privatization fund, could temporarily shelve the privatization until a final legal decision is reached. Another option being considered by the government is for the Greek State to cover any resulting compensation claims if ELFE is vindicated, as a form of guarantee for the prospective buyers.

The Greek State’s 65 percent stake is being offered by TAIPED, the privatization fund, and Hellenic Petroleum ELPE is also selling its 35 percent stake.

Five hydrogen project proposals make cut for IPCEI contention

Five Greek hydrogen production project proposals have been included in a first-round list submitted by the government to the European Commission for inclusion in its Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) category, reserved for projects promising important contribution to economic growth, jobs and competitiveness.

The five Greek project proposals, approved by energy minister Kostas Skrekas and development minister Adonis Georgiadis, were selected from 23 proposals submitted by companies for contention following an annoucement by the two ministries last April.

The short list of proposals is planned to be assessed by the European Commission in November for a place on the IPCEI list, ensuring EU support funds.

The list features the 8 billion-euro White Dragon project – involving the country’s biggest energy groups with gas company DEPA Commercial as head coordinator – for a hydrogen producing facility in northern Greece’s lignite-dependent west Macedonia region; the White Dragon-linked Green HiPo project of Advent Technologies; the H2CEM hydrogen project by cement producer TITAN; the BLUE MED project, for eco-friendly blue hydrogen production, by Motor Oil and gas grid operator DESFA; as well as the H2CAT hydrogen storage and transportation project by B&T Composites.

DEPA: CNG, LNG supply in remote areas must be competition-based

Gas company DEPA Commercial has objected to a RAE (Regulatory Authority for Energy) proposal calling for the development of distribution networks at remote areas for CNG and LNG supply, noting, in related public consultation, that such a move would not reflect international practices, according to which CNG and LNG compression and transportation activities are taken on by suppliers based on free market competition conditions and prospects.

The RAE proposal for CNG and LNG distribution networks covering supply in remote areas is extremely restrictive and does not allow for alternatives that would facilitate greater competition and reduced costs for consumers, DEPA Commercial contended.

Also, any decision to develop virtual pipeline networks in remote areas should serve as a temporary solution and ensure that the normal development of distribution networks is not undermined, DEPA Commercial noted.

Gas grid operator DESFA, in its contribution to the public consultation procedure, noted that if a virtual pipeline network is regarded as part of the national grid, then this would help boost social welfare, minimize any potential burden on existing gas consumers, and maximize the positive impact of natural gas penetration in Greece.

 

 

DEPA Commercial turnover down 47.8% due to pandemic

Gas company DEPA Commercial has forecast an increase in natural gas volume-based sales of over 20 percent in 2021 following a pandemic-induced total turnover reduction of 47.8 percent last year, down to 396.5 million euros from approximately 760 million euros in 2019.

As a result, DEPA Commercial’s profit after tax in 2020 fell to 37.5 million euros from 67.9 million euros in the previous year.

Despite the reduction, DEPA Commercial offered shareholders – privatization fund TAIPED (65%) and Hellenic Petroleum ELPE (35%) – dividends totaling 6.6 million euros.

The company attributed its turnover drop to international market conditions shaped by the pandemic during the first half of 2020, which suppressed prices at international hubs, creating purchasing opportunities at spot markets, before price levels partially rebounded.

These conditions conduced opportunistic gas orders by major-scale consumers in Greece, who have usually covered a great part of their natural gas needs through DEPA, based on long-term supply contracts, the company explained.

In terms of volume, DEPA’s gas sales in 2020 totaled 25.5 TWh, down 6.7 percent compared to 2019, primarily as a result of the aforementioned factors.

DEPA Infrastructure bids July 16, Commercial sale delayed

Privatization fund TAIPED has set a July 16 deadline for binding bids concerning the sale of a 65 percent stake in gas company DEPA Infrastructure.

This sale represents Greece’s only energy-sector privatization proceeding as planned, based on the fund’s updated Asset Development Plan.

A total of six bidding formations have qualified for the privatization’s second round. They are: EP INVESTMENT ADVISORS; FIRST STATE INVESTMENTS (European Diversified Infrastructure Fund II); ITALGAS SpA; KKR (KKR Global Infrastructure Investors III L.P.); MACQUARIE (MEIF 6 DI HOLDINGS); SINO-CEE FUND & SHANGHAI DAZHONG PUBLIC UTILITIES (GROUP) Co., Ltd.

On the contrary, TAIPED has decided to delay bids for the sale of gas supplier DEPA Commercial until the third quarter of this year as a result of the company’s ongoing legal dispute with ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals).

DEPA Commercial has challenged an Athens Court of First Instance verdict that ordered the company to return 61 million euros to ELFE for alleged overcharging between 2010 and 2015. The appeal has been deferred for September and may be jointly heard with a separate case involving the two companies over a similar amount of unpaid receivables that is allegedly owed by the fertilizer and chemicals producer to DEPA.

The DEPA Commercial sale, offering the Greek State’s 65 percent stake of the company, has attracted all the country’s major energy players as well as foreign companies.

Seven bidders are participating: C.G. GAS LIMITED (Copelouzos group); MET HOLDING AG; SHELL GAS B.V.; GEK TERNA; ELPE & EDISON INTERNATIONAL HOLDING N.V.; Motor Oil Hellas & PPC; and Mytilineos.

DEPA Commercial pushing to mature RES licenses in time for auction

Gas company DEPA Commercial, currently placing emphasis on its alternative business interests, is making efforts to bring to maturity solar energy licenses in time for an upcoming RES auction. These PV licenses concern solar farm projects representing a total capacity of 499.61 MW.

Late in January, DEPA Commercial announced it had acquired a 49 percent stake in North Polar, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) established on the basis of a portfolio carrying solar energy project certificates and production permits. These licenses concern projects in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region.

DEPA Commercial and its SPV partner have submitted environmental terms for these projects and are now expecting their connection terms.

The partners are striving to participate in the next RES auction to be staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the first to be held under new terms expected to soon be approved by the European Commission.

On another front, DEPA Commercial is closely monitoring developments regarding the Alexandroupoli FSRU in northeastern Greece, another of its project interests.

DEPA Commercial holds a 20 percent stake in Gastrade, a company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition still needs to approve Greek gas grid operator DESFA’s entry into the consortium, also with a 20 percent stake, to be taken from the Copelouzos group’s current 40 percent share in the Alexandroupoli FSRU venture.

The Brussels authority’s endorsement of DESFA’s entry is seen as a formality following its recent approval of the entry of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz as a fourth member of the consortium, also with a 20 percent stake. Gaslog is the other consortium member, also holding 20 percent.

The DESFA entry approval is anticipated within the second quarter. Gastrade’s partners are then expected to swiftly follow with an investment decision on the Alexandroupoli FSRU’s construction.