DEPA Commercial finalizing terms for 840-MW in RES units

State-controlled gas company DEPA Commercial plans to finalize connection terms for over 850 MW in RES projects by the end of this month as part of its plan to vertically integrate through entry into the domain of electricity production, energypress sources have informed.

DEPA Commercial intends to utilize its RES projects to establish power purchase agreements (PPAs) with major-scale consumers, as well as with the group’s retail gas subsidiary Fysiko Aerio, the sources added.

DEPA Commercial’s RES projects whose licensing procedures have reached an advanced stage represent a capacity of over 600 MW.

The gas company had established a business plan to enter electricity production prior to the outbreak of the energy crisis.

DEPA Commercial holds a 49 percent stake in renewable energy company North Solar, with an option to acquire the other 51 percent stake. North Solar’s RES portfolio totals 500 MW. Last summer, North Solar took over New Spes Concept, holding a 232-MW RES portfolio.

In addition, DEPA Commercial plans to finalize, within the next few days, its participation in an 840-MW gas-fueled power station in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, along with power utility PPC and Damco Energy.

 

Natural gas regains place as lower-cost heating option compared to oil

Natural gas heating has regained its place as a lower-cost heating option to heating oil, courtesy of a gas subsidy support. At current price levels, natural gas heating is estimated to be approximately 20 percent cheaper than heating oil.

Gas suppliers have set their October prices for households at levels of about 0.11 euros per KWh, unchanged from last winter. Subsidies offered by state-controlled DEPA Commercial will reduce this price level to 0.09 euros per KWh. Without any subsidy support, gas prices for household heating would just about double to 0.21 euros per KWh.

Unlike gas suppliers, heating oil suppliers have not been able to set their prices, despite the fact that winter trading for this fuel begins in two days, as a result of wildly fluctuating prices in markets, making it impossible to make projections.

Given the current market conditions, heating oil prices will be set anywhere between 1.40 and 1.50 euros per liter, a level of about 1.45 euros per liter seeming most probable.

These heating oil price levels take into account state subsidies of 0.25 euros per liter. Without the state subsidy support, heating fuel would reach between 1.65 and 1.75 euros per liter.

Elevated heating fuel prices seen, OPEC decision impact awaited

Heating fuel prices are likely to begin the winter trading season, starting October 15, at an elevated level of between 1.50 and 1.55 euros per liter, market officials have indicated.

Heating fuel subsidies, to be offered to households based on income criteria, stand to lower heating fuel prices to between 1.15 and 1.20 euros per liter.

Pricing predictions for winter remain uncertain as petroleum firm officials are awaiting the impact of a recent OPEC decision to cut back on output before finalizing their calculations. Market developments this week will be instrumental in the level of heating fuel prices to be set by petroleum firms.

If confirmed, heating fuel prices of between 1.50 and 1.55 euros per liter would place struggling households under even greater financial pressure. Fuel-based heating has been seen as a favorable option by many households for this coming winter, given the hefty electricity price increases. However, heating fuel prices of between 1.50 and 1.55 euros per liter would act as a deterrent for many households.

Gas heating, taking into account a gas subsidy of 90 euros per thermal MWh offered by gas company DEPA Commercial, is expected to cost 0.11 or 0.12 euros per KWh in October, sources informed.

At these levels, gas heating remains a lower-cost alternative to fuel-based heating for households not eligible for heating fuel subsidies.

Some investors behind CCGTs stalling, others forging ahead

Energy crisis uncertainty and the singling out of natural gas for its exorbitant price levels are factors troubling investors behind new combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant projects.

Some investors have stalled their CCGT investment plans, waiting to see how developments unfold concerning gas prices and availability, while, on the other hand, more aggressive players are forging ahead.

Elpedison has yet to reach an investment decision on a new 860-MW CCGT at the company’s Thessaloniki refinery facilities. Despite having begun some preliminary work, Elpedison’s partners – HELLENiQ ENERGY, until recently named Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), and Edison – have put their Thessaloniki CCGT project on hold to appraise international and European energy market developments.

If developed, Elpedison’s prospective 860-MW Thessaloniki facility would add to the joint venture’s two existing facilities. The HELLENiQ ENERGY petroleum group is also planning an FSRU at the Thermaic Gulf, which would establish a Thessaloniki hub for the company.

The Copelouzos group has also been troubled by the adverse market conditions. Group member Damco Energy had secured a license for an 840-MW CCGT in Alexandroupoli, northern Greece, but the high cost of natural gas and overall market uncertainty prompted the company to not go it alone and seek partners for the project.

According to sources, power utility PPC and gas company DEPA Commercial have joined Damco Energy for the Alexandroupoli CCGT. Official announcements on the partnership are expected soon.

Elsewhere, the GEK TERNA and Motor Oil groups have begun working on an 877-MW CCGT in Komotini, northeastern Greece. The former, in its publication of first-half results, noted work on the “Thermoilektriki Komotinis” project is continuing, its scheduled launch unchanged for 2024.

 

 

 

 

 

DEPA’s TotalEnergies LNG deal a break away from Russia, TTF

A gas supply agreement reached between DEPA Commercial and France’s TotalEnergies, securing, for the former, French LNG quantities totaling 10 TWh, nearly one-third of annual Russian gas supply, based on references prices not linked to the Dutch TTF hub, up to 90 euros per MWh more expensive than other hubs, paves the way for further agreements not connected to the TTF and Russian supply.

According to sources, DEPA Commercial is currently working on a strategic long-term LNG supply agreement with another major international player, once again using a pricing formula linked to a hub other than the TTF.

These moves are ensuring energy sufficiency for DEPA Commercial’s customers as well as the country, at competitive prices.

DEPA Commercial’s 10-TWh LNG agreement with TotalEnergies, which, according to sources, will result in supply from November until March next year, is equivalent to five months of Russian gas consumption in the Greek market.

The TotalEnergies amount should be enough to cover the country’s needs during this five-month period if Russia completely disrupts gas supply to Europe. In 2021, Greece’s gas imports from Russia totaled 35.37 TWh.

The Greek energy ministry’s leadership and DEPA Commercial officials are preparing for a trip to Azerbaijan, postponed three weeks ago, to seek an agreement for further gas quantities, at prices that are more competitive than the current Azerbaijani supply deal, DEPA Commercial’s most expensive.

 

 

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.

 

PPC, DEPA Commercial in PPP talks for gas-fueled facility

Power utility PPC and gas company DEPA Commercial, both state-controlled, are involved in advanced talks with private energy groups for a joint investment concerning the development of a gas-fueled power station.

PPC and DEPA Commercial have already agreed to join forces for this project and are now discussing the matter with private investors for the establishment of a public-private partnership (PPP), energypress sources informed.

More talks are necessary before the PPP’s formation can be considered a certainty, it is believed. Reports claiming that PPC and DEPA Commercial are holding talks with private companies that are either already developing or close to completing combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants remain unconfirmed.

Officials at PPC are interested in the CCGT plant as they believe natural gas prices will deescalate over the next few years, while DEPA Commercial has decided to enter the domain of electricity generation as part of a wider company plan to vertically integrate its operations.

 

 

DEPA Commercial makes another RES market acquisition

Gas company DEPA Commercial has further penetrated the RES market by fully acquiring NEW SPES CONCEPT, possessing solar farms with a total capacity of 232 MW, and is preparing to buy a further 51 percent stake, for full ownership, of North Solar, whose business plan features 500-MW of solar farms in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region.

DEPA Commercial aims to build a RES portfolio with a 1-GW capacity.

NEW SPES CONCEPT is currently developing 14 solar energy projects and holds as many electricity producer certificates.

DEPA Commercial made a first step into the renewable energy market last year with the purchase of a 49 percent stake in North Solar and is now expected to exercise an option for the other 51 percent of the company.

North Solar’s 500-MW solar farms in the country’s west Macedonia region are expected to receive finalized connection terms in the third quarter of this year, sources informed.

Besides its stakes in NEW SPES CONCEPT and North Solar, DEPA Commercial also holds a 20-percent stake in Gastrade, a consortium established for the Alexandroupili FSRU project in the country’s northeast.

Clarity on Larco, South Kavala UGS privatizations by end of July

The fates of two long-running privatizations, state-controlled nickel producer Larco and the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north, being offered through a tender for the development and operation of a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS), are expected to be cleared up by the end of July, privatization fund TAIPED’s chief executive Dimitris Politis has informed.

Also, the completion of gas company DEPA Infrastructure’s sale to Italian company Italgas is expected by September, along with new sale alternatives for the DEPA Commercial sale, whose initial procedure was officially terminated in May as a result of complications stemming from an ongoing legal battle between the company and fertilizer producer ELFE, the TAIPED official noted.

The “South Kavala” UGS tender’s final round has been held up as a result of objections raised by participants over project pricing regulations established by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy. These regulations are expected to soon be published in the government gazette.

Energean and a partnership bringing together gas grid operator DESFA and construction company GEK Terna are the final-round qualifiers of the “South Kavala” UGS tender.

Larco sale participants have been set a July 29 deadline for binding bids, Politis, the TAIPED chief, informed.

As for the DEPA Infrastructure sale procedure, hurdles have been removed as a result of revisions separating certification requirements set by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for the gas company’s distribution subsidiaries from the DEPA Infrastructure sale.

Alternative plans for the ill-fated DEPA Commercial sale, including a possible partial privatization, will be announced by September or October, the TAIPED chief informed.

DEPA Chief: ‘Holistic approach to energy matters needed more than ever’

Mr. K. Xifaras, CEO of Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA) SA., writes for International Energy Exhibition of Greece 2022

DEPA Commercial is Custodian of Greece’s energy security and of the smooth operation of the domestic energy market. Today, the energy sector, both in Greece and worldwide, is faced with a series of challenges and unforeseen factors which highlight, now more than ever, the need for a holistic approach to energy matters. The need to contain energy costs and support the society, on one hand, and the process of energy transition, on the other, have created a situation in which the market needs to find a balance which will ensure both the country’s energy efficiency and its survival in sustainable terms.

While trying to solve this difficult equation, the role of natural gas, as a bridge, fuel proves to be decisive for shaping the future of the energy market, given the diversification of energy sources and routes of supply and transport, as well as the expansion of storage capacity. DEPA Commercial, which consistently serves these strategic priorities, has been developing a multi-level strategy for the last three years that has proven to be particularly effective. A strategy with double focus: the verticalization and expansion of corporate activities, and the seamless transition to “green” energy, both of which are national goals described in the National Energy and Climate Plan and the European Green Agreement, enhancing our country’s role as a regional energy hub for the wider Southeast European region.

In order to cover the country’s immediate energy needs and to shield its energy security, DEPA Commercial is increasing the supply of LNG either through current contracts or through the spot market, while having already secured long-term agreements on more favorable terms. At the same time, the company is investing in important infrastructure projects and programs, which are drastically reshaping the energy status quo of the region and are contributing decisively to the process of Europe’s independence from Russian gas, such as the Greek-Bulgarian pipeline – IGB and the offshore LNG terminal (FSRU) in Alexandroupolis. Both, projects which will significantly increase the capacity of supply and storage of both Greece and the neighboring countries it serves.

TAP, Poseidon and EastMed are equally important pipeline projects, with the latter returning dynamically to the forefront as a result of the energy crisis, since it will enable the transport of natural gas from the fields of the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe. To that direction, DEPA Commercial is currently in advanced discussions with trading companies from Israel and Egypt.

In this way, a safety net is established regarding the security of supply in the wider region, which upgrades Greece’s geopolitical status by transforming it into a regulatory factor in the energy landscape.

Simultaneously, given the enhanced importance of natural gas, we have designed a comprehensive strategy aiming, on the one hand to expand the use of natural gas, both geographically and in terms of uses, and on the other hand to create the conditions for the development and utilization of renewable and alternative forms of energy. Keeping this in mind, DEPA Commercial is leading the developments towards the transition to a greener economy by designing and implementing initiatives that promote the further penetration of natural gas in the country’s energy mix, as a transitional fuel on the way to cleaner energy forms. The company also contributes substantially to the promotion of gas mobility and the use of cutting-edge technologies, such as Small-Scale LNG and CNG, thus expanding even further the natural gas network and ensuring distribution even in the most inaccessible areas. At the same, time, emphasis is placed on the development of a sustainable and efficient LNG supply chain for maritime transport that will increase the growth prospects of the Greek shipping sector.

With its sights on the future, DEPA Commercial is already active in the field of Renewable Energy Sources by creating a “green” portfolio that exceeds 200 MW of photovoltaic parks, and is also developing projects, infrastructure and technologies which will be able to serve in the future even “greener” energy such as hydrogen and biomethane.

Moreover, at DEPA Commercial we have proven that we operate always considering pertinent societal issues and, for this reason, with a true sense of responsibility we are contributing decisively to the absorption of a significant percentage of the rise in international gas prices, through the implementation of targeted market interventions aimed at supporting households and businesses, in full cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

With a solid vision and through hard work, DEPA Commercial is today an integrated energy company, with strong bases, operating vertically and according to modern corporate governance terms. We are meticulously planning our next steps and we are creating the conditions to successfully meet the ever-changing needs of the market and the economy.

 

DEPA Commercial sale over, DEPA Infrastructure completion June

Privatization fund TAIPED’s attempted sale of gas company DEPA Commercial is officially over, the European Commission admitting that the procedure cannot proceed as a result of an ongoing legal battle between the company and fertilizer producer ELFE, which, Brussels noted, in a report on the Greek economy, is expected to take two to three years to be resolved.

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

TAIPED is now examining alternative sale solutions, according to the Brussels report.

As for the yet-to-be-finalized sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure, acquired by Italgas, Europe’s second largest gas distributor, it is expected to be finalized in mid-June, the European Commission’s report noted.

The Brussels report made no mention of recent certification issues raised by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, which has changed its stance on the certification conditions for DEPA Infrastructure’s three subsidiaries, the gas distributors EDA Attiki, EDA THESS and DEDA.

Kavala UGS privatization delay, DEPA Commercial sale on hold

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 has, once again, been postponed for a latter date, according to the privatization fund’s updated asset development plan.

The deadline for this UGS privatization’s binding bids will be reset for the final quarter of the year, possibly in October or November, after being planned for May or June, sources informed.

A number of issues are delaying the privatization’s completion. RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, still needs to issue a pricing framework that will determine pricing details concerning the use of the UGS, the privatization fund informed.

Also, the fund is awaiting an EU regulation concerning compulsory gas storage requirements for member states, so that it may be included in the UGS project’s cost-benefit analysis.

In addition, a dispute between gas grid operator DESFA and RAE over the South Kavala UGS project’s accompanying projects is another obstacle preventing the tender’s continuation.

Elsewhere, in another major energy-sector privatization, gas company DEPA Commercial’s privatization appears to have been put on hold, indefinitely, as TAIPED, the privatization fund, in its update, noted alternatives need to be considered as a result of international developments and legal issues, a reference to the gas company’s ongoing legal battle with fertilizer producer ELFE.

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

DEPA Commercial’s privatization has remained stagnant at the binding-bids stage for over a year.

 

Greece, Cyprus, Israel look to push ahead with key projects

The prospective East Med gas pipeline and a subsea electricity grid interconnection, projects that would link Israel with Cyprus and Greece and which are being heavily promoted as a result of the EU’s new energy policy, aiming to end the continent’s reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible, are expected to dominate the agenda of today’s trilateral meeting in Jerusalem between the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Energy company representatives will, for the first time, also be participating in a trilateral meeting of energy ministers involving the three countries, highlighting the determination of all three countries, and the EU, for swift progress on projects and agreements that would contribute to greater energy diversification for Europe.

Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas will be accompanied by Kostas Xifaras, chief executive of gas company DEPA Commercial; Mathios Rigas, CEO of upstream company Energean; and Manos Manousakis, CEO of Greek power grid operator IPTO.

Representatives of corresponding Cypriot and Israeli companies will also be taking part in today’s trilateral meeting.

Prospects for the development of the EuroAsia electricity grid link promising to connect the three countries have grown considerably as Israel appears to have swept aside previous reservations. Israel has wanted the completion of the Crete-Cyprus link as a prerequisite ahead of further development.

 

 

FSRU at LNG terminal, Italy storage, lignite use decided

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas has staged an emergency meeting with the country’s crisis management team to establish measures that would need to be implemented should Russia decide to disrupt its natural gas supply to Europe.

Gas grid operator DESFA will need to deliver a cost-benefit analysis to the ministry by tomorrow on a plan entailing the addition of an FSRU at the Revythoussa islet LNG terminal, just off Athens, as a capacity-boosting move.

In addition, the operator has until Tuesday to report back to the ministry on the progress of its talks with Italy’s SNAM aiming to reserve storage capacity at the neighboring country’s underground gas storage (UGS) facilities.

DESFA must also update its estimate on additional LNG shipments that would be required in Greece if Russia disrupts its natural gas supply to Europe.

Gas company DEPA Commercial, Greece’s biggest gas importer, is closely monitoring the availability of LNG shipments in international markets in order to secure additional shipments, if this is deemed necessary.

Furthermore, power utility PPC will forward, by Tuesday, to the energy ministry, its annual lignite extraction plan for continual operation of its available lignite-fired power stations.

 

 

 

 

Gas trading debuts at energy exchange, prices at €85-88

Wholesale gas trading debuted at the Greek energy exchange without any problems, transactions representing a total quantity of 1,101 MWh at prices ranging between 85 and 88 euros per MWh, energypress sources have informed.

Energy exchange officials and participating companies expressed satisfaction following the first day of trading.

Ten companies – electricity producers and natural gas suppliers – are so far registered to participate in trading on the new platform. These are: AXPO, ELPEDISON, MOTOR OIL, DEPA Commercial, DESFA, PPC, EPA ATTIKI, ZENITH, HERON and MYTILINEOS.

The new platform, operating between 9am and 2.30am, incorporates a day-ahead market covering three 24 periods in advance, as well as an intraday market. It also hosts gas balancing trading covering the grid’s needs.

Officials are planning to also launch, at a latter date, trading for futures contracts, which will enable companies to pursue hedging strategies without needing to resort to other European markets for such tools.

The new platform promises to lead to more competitive natural gas prices as it will enable companies to capitalize on opportunities whenever they arise.

 

 

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.

 

Gastrade decides on additional Alexandroupoli FSRU by 2025

Gastrade, the consortium established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal planned for Greece’s northeast, has reached a decision to also install an additional FSRU unit at the location, expected to be completed in 2025, as a follow-up to the first terminal, set for completion in 2023.

The consortium’s decision for an additional FSRU in Alexandroupoli had been in the making from as far back as last summer, when the energy crisis was at its early stages, but was accelerated by the long-term turmoil now seen in relations between the west and Russia following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further highlighted the need for Europe to reduce its dependence on Russian gas as soon as possible. A completely new reality now appears to be in the making.

Southeastern Europe’s gas needs to result from Europe’s reduced energy dependence on Russia, through strategic diversification, has increased the prospect of Greece’s northeast becoming an energy hub that would facilitate gas exports in all directions, including to 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.

March power, gas subsidies unchanged, suppliers owed

The level of state subsidies to be offered to household and business consumers for electricity and natural gas in March will remain unchanged compared to February, a support measure worth 350 million euros for the month, sources have informed.

Energy suppliers have already been informed of the decision, reached by the energy ministry.

As a result, household consumers will receive electricity subsidies worth 39 euros per month for consumption up to 300 kWh, only for primary places of residence.

Low-income households eligible for social residential tariffs (KOT) stand to receive electricity subsidies worth 51 euros per month.

Monthly subsidies for non-household consumers, including businesses, farmers and professionals, will remain at the level of 65 euros.

As for natural gas, household consumers stand to receive state subsidies of 20 euros per MWh plus that much more from the gas company DEPA Commercial. Businesses will receive 20 euros per MWh.

According to sources, energy suppliers have yet to be compensated by DAPEEP, the RES market operator, for subsidies offered in January and February, on behalf of the Greek State. Subsidies offered by the Greek State over the two-month period were worth a total of 700 million euros.

DAPEEP sources have ascertained that the sum owed by the operator to energy suppliers will be covered either late this week or early next week.

This delay has increased the cashflow strain felt be energy suppliers, now facing even greater pressure following last week’s invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a development that has sparked a further rise in energy prices.

DEPA Commercial sale held up by legal battle with ELPE, crisis

Though gas company DEPA Commercial was vindicated in an Athens Court of Appeal verdict over an overpricing case filed by fertilizer industry ELFE for gas consumption between 2010 and 2015, the gas company’ privatization remains trapped as ELFE has responded by announcing it will take the legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court.

ELFE is seeking a compensation amount of 302 million euros. An initial court decision delivered in 2019 had awarded the fertilizer producer a 91 million-euro amount, which, however, was cancelled out by the latest court ruling, issued yesterday.

The ongoing legal dispute, which, in the end, could vindicate ELFE, is a concern for DEPA Commercial, as a legal defeat would prompt other industrial customers to take overcharging legal action against the gas company.

Besides the ongoing legal dispute with ELFE, another major factor holding up DEPA Commercial’s privatization is the government’s hesitation to sell amid the ongoing energy crisis. The government is awaiting market normalization, beyond the crisis, before it takes further steps in the DEPA Commercial sale.

DEPA Commercial privatization decision expected in January

A decision on whether to defer the final binding-bids stage in the 100 percent privatization of gas company DEPA Commercial is not expected until January, according to sources. Officials are delaying the progress of this sale fearing negative impact that could stem from the energy crisis and an unresolved legal dispute between the gas company and fertilizer industry ELFE.

The country’s privatization fund TAIPED is waiting to see how the government decides to move ahead on a number of issues, and is also awaiting the stance of ELPE (Greek Petroleum), which holds a 35 percent stake in DEPA Commercial, before reaching a decision, the sources noted. TAIPED controls the Greek State’s 65 percent share of DEPA Commercial.

Though the legal dispute between DEPA and ELFE could drag on for months, the DEPA Commercial sale has not been put on hold as authorities are pursuing a solution, according to TAIPED sources.

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.

On the other front, ELPE is likely to seek to sell its 35 percent share of DEPA Commercial regardless of what the government and TAIPED decide to do with their 65 percent share, sources informed.

One alternative being contemplated is to divide DEPA Commercial so as to enable the sale of subsidiary gas supplier Fysiko Aerio Elladas. Another possibility examined by TAIPED is to list DEPA Commercial on the Athens Stock Exchange, though this is seen as highly unlikely given the insecurity the ongoing ELFE legal case would cause among investors.

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.