PPC triggers options for 2021 gas orders from DEPA, Prometheus Gas

Power utility PPC has activated options to extend, by an additional year, its 2020 gas supply contracts with gas utility DEPA and Prometheus Gas, a joint venture involving the Copelouzos group and Russia’s Gazprom, for respective gas orders of 2 million MWh and 2.5 million MWh, according to sources.

PPC expects to require a total gas amount of between 17 million and 18 million MWh for its electricity generation needs in 2021, unchanged compared to the estimate for this year.

A nine-year gas supply agreement between PPC and DEPA securing the power utility approximately 11 million MWh of gas, annually, expires at the end of this year. As a result, PPC will need to reshape its gas supply policy from scratch.

The gas supply prices secured by PPC through its aforementioned one-year contract extensions with DEPA and Prometheus Gas are roughly 8 to 9 percent lower compared to the prices of the power utility’s long-term agreement with DEPA.

The cost of PPC’s additional one-year gas order from DEPA is believed to be about 30 million euros, while the 2021 order from Prometheus Gas is estimated to be worth 36 million euros, sources said.

Early this year, PPC purchased additional gas amounts totaling 4.5 million MWh from DEPA and the Copelouzos group, through a competitive procedure, to primarily cover needs at its Aliveri and Megalopoli power stations.

PPC is also covering this year’s gas needs through supplementary LNG orders. The power utility has so far brought in three shipments of 2 million MW each, and may order a further 2 million MWh in the second half.

Natural gas market forecasts for 2021 remain hazy. RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has yet to determine the manner in which slots will be distributed at gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens. In addition, the sale of DEPA Commerce, a new DEPA entity established for the gas utility’s privatization, is expected next year.

 

DEPA Commerce 5-year business plan includes turn to RES sector

Gas company DEPA Commerce’s five-year business plan for 2020-2024, containing investments estimated at 200 million euros, aspires to broaden the company’s interests by also incorporating renewable energy projects totaling 200 MW, either through independent development or acquisitions of mature plans.

Privatization fund TAIPED and the energy ministry are expected to approve the DEPA Commerce business plan within July.

DEPA Commerce was formed by gas utility DEPA as a new entity for its privatization procedure.

Besides RES projects, the DEPA Commerce business plan also includes hydrogen and biomethane projects, as well as electromobility initiatives.

The company’s expansion of business activities is expected to lead to greatly increased EBITDA and profit figures.

Once finalized and approved, the DEPA Commerce five-year business plan will be included in the due diligence package for prospective bidders.

DEPA Commerce sale may change gas, electricity markets

Ongoing procedures in the sale of DEPA Commerce could serve as a catalyst for major changes in the retail gas and electricity markets, leaving fewer players in these markets.

Challenges of the new era, from electromobility to renewable energy, are expected to soon lead to the establishment of various energy-sector mergers and partnerships in Greece.

Talks between company officials for potential partnerships have proliferated since seven consortiums were confirmed as the qualifiers through to the second and final round in the sale of gas utility DEPA’s commercial division.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) chief executive Andreas Siamisiis, during a press conference yesterday, left open the prospect of an entry by an additional partner into the consortium formed by ELPE and Italy’s Edison. This consortium is among the sale’s seven qualifiers.

Such a development could even influence the line-up of electricity supplier Elpedison, a joint venture formed by ELPE and Edison for Greece’s retail market, Siamisiis admitted.

It is believed that fellow qualifiers Motor Oil and Greek power utility PPC, who also joined forces for the DEPA Commerce sale, are moving to expand their consortium for this sale.

Highlight the importance of the DEPA Commerce sale, and its potential to lead to sweeping changes, six major Greek energy companies are involved in the DEPA Commerce sale, a record level of interest for any local energy-market sale in recent years.

Besides the three aforementioned Greek players, Mytilineos, GEK-TERNA and Copelouzos are also vying for DEPA Commerce.

Electricity producers are the market’s biggest gas consumers, which entwines the interests of gas and electricity players.

Six Greek heavyweights among DEPA Commercial contenders

Six major Greek energy market players are among the contenders through to the second round of the DEPA Commercial sale, the biggest domestic turnout for an energy-sector tender in recent years, highlighting the gas market’s significance and prospects over the next decade.

The country’s energy transition plan is aiming for zero emissions by 2030.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), joined by Italian partner Edison, a Motor Oil and power utility PPC partnership, Mytilineos, Gek-Terna and the Copelouzos group are the six Greek contenders, among a list of seven bidding teams shortlisted for the DEPA Commercial sale’s final round, entailing binding bids.

Gas utility DEPA, from which DEPA Commercial has been established for the utility’s privatization, may have lost its monopoly in the natural gas market, but its assets and market share promise the new owner a leading position during Greece’s decade of decarbonization, electric vehicle market growth and drastic reduction in fuel consumption.

As a result, fierce bidding for DEPA Commercial is expected.

The company’s acquisition will provide the new owner with a portfolio of 350,000 customers plus DEPA Commercial’s international supply contracts with Russia’s Gazprom, supplying pipeline gas to the Greek company for years; Algeria’s Sonatrach, supplying LNG; and Turkey’s Botas.

Gas quantities from Azerbaijan have also been reserved by DEPA Commercial via the imminent TAP route.

 

 

 

Seven bidders through to DEPA Commercial sale’s final round

The Board of Directors of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), during today’s meeting decided, that seven interested parties meet the criteria to participate in Phase B (Binding Offers Phase) of the tender process for the acquisition of 65% of the share capital of DEPA Commercial (Trade) S.A., with an option of acquiring the total of its issued share capital by virtue of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between DEPA S.A. shareholders, HRADF and Hellenic Petroleum S.A. (HELPE), the development fund has announced in a statement.

The prequalified interested parties to participate in Phase B of the tender are (in alphabetical order):

  1. C. G. GAS LIMITED
  2. Consortium HELLENIC PETROLEUM SA & EDISON INTERNATIONAL HOLDING N.V
  3. Consortium MOTOR OIL HELLAS CORINTH REFINERIES SA & PPC SA
  4. GEK TERNA SA
  5. MET HOLDING AG
  6. MYTILINEOS SA
  7. SHELL GAS BV

Following the signing of the relevant Confidentiality Agreement, the prequalified interested parties will receive the documents of Phase B (Binding Offers Phase) and will grant access to the virtual data room (VDR), where data and information related to DEPA Commercial S.A. are uploaded, the statement added.

 

 

 

 

DEPA sales progressing, DEPA Infrastructure VDR in a fortnight

Gas utility DEPA’s double privatization effort involving DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade appears to be making progress.

The sale’s authorities expect to make accessible a DEPA Infrastructure video data room to prospective buyers between late June and early July. Then, approximately a month later, once a shortlist of final-round qualifiers has been announced, authorities plan to also open a VDR for DEPA Trade.

Meanwhile, DEPA has agreed to a new pricing formula with Russian supplier Gazprom, sources have informed.

The current pricing formula, indexing 40 percent of supply to the Dutch gas trading platform TTF, one of Europe’s biggest hubs, and 60 percent to oil prices, will be reversed.

DEPA and Gazprom also appear to have reached an agreement on an amount the Greek utility will need to pay its Russian supplier for natural gas not absorbed in 2019. A take-or-pay clause is included in their supply contract.

DEPA will pay a little over 40 million euros, well below a figure of 130,000 million euros believed to have been initially tabled. The take-or-pay amount that may result for 2020 remains to be discussed.

DEPA’s agreement with Gazprom is particularly significant for the prospects of the DEPA Trade privatization, as besides its retail gas market presence, this company will also pitch the details of its supply contracts as an important company asset.

DEPA Trade’s list of nine first-round bidders include Shell, which had sold its 49 percent share in EPA Attiki and EDA Attiki to DEPA in 2018 but is again interested in reentering the Greek gas market. The other bidders are: fellow-Dutch company Vitol; Qatar’s Power Globe; Met Holding, a subsidiary of Hungarian group MOL; C.G GAS; as well as four Greek bidders, Motor Oil Hellas with power utility PPC, a surprise partnership; Gek Terna; ELPE-Edison; and Mytilineos.

 

DEPA Trade sale short list this month, sooner than expected

Privatization fund TAIPED is expected to announce its short list of final-round qualifiers in a tender offering a stake of at least 65 percent, possibly even 100 percent, of DEPA Trade – a new entity formed by gas utility DEPA as part of its privatization – within the next few weeks, far sooner than expected.

Deteriorated international investment conditions have prompted fears of a slower sale procedure.

The privatization fund, now close to finalizing its appraisals of nine first-round bids, has requested clarification from participants.

The DEPA Trade privatization was expected to drag well behind that of DEPA Infrastructure, seen as a lower-risk sale effort offering investors regulated earnings, but the two privatization efforts now appear likely to move ahead almost concurrently, or a few weeks apart.

A list of six final-round qualifiers in the DEPA Infrastructure sale was announced a week ago. Authorities are aiming to complete this sale towards the end of the year.

As for DEPA Trade, this entity promises the winning bidder an immediate advantage in Greece’s natural gas market as more than 200,000 customers around the country will be gained.

DEPA Trade’s wholesale gas trading activity is another appealing factor, despite the fact that it shrunk to 40 percent of the market’s total last year, as the growing southeast European market offers huge potential.

DEPA Trade’s nine first-round bidders are: C.G GAS LIMITED; MET HOLDING AG; POWER GLOBE LLC; SHELL GAS B.V.; VITOL HOLDING B.V.; GEK TERNA; HELLENIC PETROLEUM (ELPE) & EDISON INTERNATIONAL HOLDING N.V. consortium; MOTOR OIL HELLAS & GREEK POWER UTILITY PPC (consortium); MYTILINEOS.

 

DEPA Trade, Infrastructure sales delayed for after summer

The final rounds of privatization procedures for DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade, two new entities formed by gas utility DEPA to facilitate its sale, will be postponed until after summer as a result of the pandemic’s impact on global economic activity and investments, pressuring asset values, sources have informed.

Investors are being offered the Greek State’s 65 percent stake and Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s 35 percent share of DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade.

However, the privatization fund TAIPED, combining its efforts with the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, intends to press ahead with a June launch of a privatization procedure for a depleted offshore gas field south of Kavala planned to be developed as an underground gas storage facility.

An appraisal of first-round offers submitted by nine investment teams for DEPA Infrastructure and that many more for DEPA Trade is expected to be completed within June.

Barring unexpected developments, TAIPED should announce its list of finalists for both sales next month. This will be followed by the opening of a virtual data room facilitating due diligence procedures for both companies.

DEPA Infrastructure bidder shortlist expected end of month

A shortlist of second-round bidders for DEPA Infrastructure, a new entity formed by gas utility DEPA ahead of its privatization, is anticipated towards the end of May, while the cut for DEPA Trade bidders, the utility’s other new division being privatized, could be announced a month later, government sources have informed.

DEPA Infrastructure, whose earnings are regulated by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is less vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic, which is not the case for DEPA Trade, fully exposed to market forces.

“We will not rush, for any reason, to take action that would lead us to much lower offers than the prices we are seeking,” Aris Xenofos, president of the privatization fund TAIPED, told Reuters yesterday.

Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) levels set for network operators by RAE before the coronavirus crisis emerged offer protection to certain privatizations against the global economic uncertainty, government sources told energypress.

Though absolute safety can never be assured, DEPA Infrastructure, whose WACC level has been set at around 7 to 8 percent, is less susceptible to financial volatility compared to other companies on Greece’s privatization list.

DEPA Trade, Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, and power grid operator IPTO – its earnings are regulated but the company is listed through IPTO (ADMIE) Holding – are all far less resilient.

Motor Oil, PPC Renewables in talks for major wind energy park

Talks between PPC Renewables and the Motor Oil Hellas group for joint development, installation and operation of an island-based wind energy farm with a capacity of approximately 100 MW have reached an advanced stage, sources have informed.

The project’s feasibility, however, will depend on the development of a grid interconnection with the mainland system.

PPC Renewables and Motor Oil are currently examining details concerning the prospective wind farm’s sustainability, interconnection and financing. Once they have reached conclusions, the two sides will decide on whether to proceed with the project.

PPC Renewables and Motor Oil have already joined forces to express first-round interest in a tender offering a stake in DEPA Trade, a new entity established by gas utility DEPA.

PPC Renewables has set as a strategic objective the formation of partnerships with domestic and foreign players for new projects not included in the existing portfolio of parent company PPC, the power utility. PPC Renewables intends to develop these new projects without involvement by PPC.

The company’s wind energy park plan with Motor Oil could serve as a base for more projects involving the two sides.

PPC Renewables has already planned a series of collaborations with foreign partners, including Germany’s RWE, UAE group Masdar Taaleri Generation  D.O.O. (MTG), as well as EDP Renoveis, a Portuguese company with a Chinese main shareholder. PPC Renewables is striving to have developed RES projects with a total capacity of 1.5 GW by 2024.

Motor Oil has made clear its plan to broaden its portfolio with emphasis on green energy. The refining group wants to establish a solid presence in the renewable energy market through acquisitions and partnerships.

Motor Oil has already completed two acquisitions, a wind-energy purchase from Stefaner and a solar energy project acquisition from Metka EGN, a member of the Mytilineos group.

 

‘Firm steps for privatizations but pandemic’s impact considered’

Decisive steps are being taken for Greece’s energy-sector privatizations, representing two thirds of the country’s overall privatization program, but the pandemic’s impact on international markets will not be neglected, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has pointed out in an interview with Greek daily To Ethnos.

There is no need to rush a plan to reduce the Greek State’s stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) as this sale is not one of restructuring character, the minister noted.

A government decision to sell stakes in DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade, two new entities emerging from a split at gas utility DEPA, is moving ahead as planned, Hatzidakis informed.

First steps have been taken to reduce, below 51 percent, the Greek State’s share in power grid operator IPTO, “but this does not mean we will proceed tomorrow morning,” he said.

State-controlled power utility PPC is preparing terms of an international tender for the sale of at least 49 percent of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a subsidiary, the minister said. This procedure is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of this year, he added.

DEPA Infrastructure board soon, bidders shortlist in June

Corporate revisions at gas utility DEPA, shaped by legislation ratified in December, have just about been completed ahead of the enterprise’s privatization plan.

All that remains, according to sources, is an announcement of the board members at DEPA Infrastructure, one of the new corporate entities established as part of the utility’s transformation.

This announcement is expected to be made within the next one or two weeks. DEPA Infrastructure will be established as an entirely new company with its own tax file number.

DEPA Trade, another new entity emerging from the wider corporate revision, will succeed the existing DEPA utility.

The utility’s other division, DEPA International Projects will, for the time being, remain a subsidiary of DEPA Trade before it is broken away 60 days prior to the submission of bids for its parent company.

Then, as the final step of its process, DEPA International Projects will be merged with EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, the government has announced.

Nine bidding teams that have expressed official interest for DEPA Infrastructure are currently providing data to the privatization fund TAIPED, expected to shortlist candidates around June, sources estimate.

Meanwhile, DEPA is preparing its video data room as well as financial and technical reports that will be examined and evaluated by investors before they shape their bids. DEPA is expected to complete these reports in May.

Ministry seeking to reignite stalled energy sector initiatives

The energy ministry is seeking to resume coronavirus-interrupted actions on a number of fronts, which, prior to the crisis, were expected to lead to major energy sector changes in 2020. These include the decarbonization effort, privatizations, green-energy infrastructure investments and a launch of the energy exchange.

The ministry’s strategic plan aiming to inject new impetus into these initiatives includes market liquidity protection through support mechanisms and bank loans for operators and key market players such as power utility PPC.

Efforts will also be made to accelerate decarbonization initiatives and keep alive pending energy sector privatizations, including those of gas utility DEPA’s two new entities, DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade; the prospective sale of a 49 percent stake of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a PPC subsidiary; as well as an underground gas storage facility at a depleted offshore gas field south of Kavala.

Green energy investments, a key party of Greece’s revised and more ambitious National Energy Climate Plan, are expected to regain dynamic momentum as of 2021, following this year’s pandemic-induced disruption.

This is also the case for major infrastructure projects such as power grid operator IPTO’s grid interconnections for Crete, the south, west and north Cyclades and other areas. These interconnection projects require investments totaling more than 4 billion euros. These are expected to be completed by 2030.

Grid interconnection projects are also being worked on for the gas sector. Gas grid operator DESFA is looking to expand its network to cover 39 cities.

IPTO, DEPA Trade, DEPA Infrastucture sales put on hold

Energy-sector privatizations planned for launch in the second quarter, as well as sales already in progress, are being put on hold as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the global economy and the plans of the government and privatization fund TAIPED.

Two thirds of Greece’s privatization program this year concerns energy utilities, as energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has noted.

The freeze on plans includes the sale of an additional stake of power grid operator IPTO, which was planned for the second quarter.

State Grid Corp of China (SGCC), already holding a 24 percent share of IPTO and possessing first-offer rights, has expressed an interest to boost its stake.

However, IPTO and SGCC officials have not been able to meet for talks as a result of the extreme conditions. Greece’s deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas had planned a trip to China one-and-a-half months ago but was unable to travel as a result of a travel ban imposed by the Chinese government following the coronavirus outbreak in China early this year.

Two privatization procedures for gas utility DEPA’s new entities, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure, both of which have drawn considerable interest, have also been put on hold.

The DEPA Trade sale attracted nine bidding teams, domestic and international, for its first round, a turnout interpreted as a vote of confidence for the Greek economy. The sale’s first-round expressions of interest could be appraised in the summer.

DEPA Trade sale’s PPC-Motor Oil union, Shell return surprise

The privatization of DEPA Trade – a new entity established by gas utility DEPA – offering the Greek State’s 65 percent stake in a procedure whose deadline for first-round offers expired yesterday, produced two surprises. Firstly, Shell reemerged in the country’s gas market following a withdrawal less than two years ago. Secondly, in an unanticipated move, power utility PPC teamed up with Motor Oil for a joint bid.

Shell departed from the Greek natural gas market in July, 2018 by selling its 49 percent stakes in gas supplier EPA Attiki and gas distributor EDA Attiki, both covering the wider Athens region, to DEPA.

Shell received a total of 150 million euros, 39 million for its 49 percent stake in EPA Attiki and 111 million euros for its 49 percent stake in EDA Attiki.

The company’s reemergence can be primarily attributed to an interest in DEPA’s long-term contracts with Gazprom, Sonatrach and Botas, with an eye on the wider Balkan and southeast European regions, sources said.

PPC and Motor Oil decided to join forces for the DEPA Trade sale as a result of the failure of both to secure slots for 2020 at gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens. PPC holds a 30 percent stake in its partnership with Motor Oil, sources informed.

Following its Revythoussa failure, PPC has been more aggressive in a market test for the Alexandroupoli FSRU, expiring today. PPC wants to secure a capacity at this prospective unit in the country’s northeast as the company is determined to have LNG access. A successful bid in the DEPA Trade sale would bolster this position.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Edison did not submit a joint bid for DEPA Trade through Elpedison, their joint venture for Greece’s retail energy market, as had been speculated. Instead, they are believed to have made separate bids. The two had not shaped a common action plan in the event of a successful DEPA Trade bid, sources said. However, the establishment of a new joint venture by the two firms at a latter stage, specifically for DEPA Trade, cannot be ruled out.

The country’s planned privatizations, including DEPA Trade, face likely delays as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s repercussions. The progress of these sales will depend on the course of the pandemic.

DEPA Trade’s first-round bidders forwarded their offers on-line and must follow up with deliveries of official documents by April 24. The evaluation of first-round offers is not expected to begin any sooner than April 25.

DEPA Trade offers due today, at least 7 players interested

Five Greek and two international investment groups are expected to submit bids for the DEPA Trade privatization, whose first-round deadline expires today at 5pm.

DEPA Trade was established as a new gas utility DEPA entity for the privatization, offering the Greek State’s 65 percent stake.

Bidders may also submit their expressions of interest online, via email, as a result of restrictive measures prompted by the coronavirus crisis, but will need to follow-up with official documents by April 24. The evaluation of first-round offers is not expected to begin any sooner than April 25.

The local bidders expected to submits bids, all leading energy players, are Mytilineos, GEK Terna, Motor Oil, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and the Copelouzos group.

ELPE plans to submit a joint bid in partnership with Edison, possibly through Elpedison, their joint venture for Greece’s retail energy market, sources informed.

The Copelouzos group is also working on delivering a joint offer, with Czech firm KKCG.

Shell is among the foreign companies looking interested, despite its sale, two years ago, of stakes in DEPA gas supply and distribution companies.

Dutch firm Vitol is the other foreign player believed to have been drawn to the DEPA Trade sale. Vitol had reached the final stage of an ELPE sale with Algeria’s Sonatrach as a bidding partner, but the pair ended up not submitting a binding offer.

Expressions of interest in DEPA Trade may also come from Swiss-based Hungarian firm Met Energy Holding, active in natural gas wholesale trade. This firm is already present in Hungary, Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine. Qatar’s Power Global is another possibility.

DEPA Trade’s portfolio includes 409,000 customers – households and businesses.

 

No date change, at present, for DEPA Trade privatization effort

No further scheduling revisions are intended – at present – for the DEPA Trade privatization procedure, whose first-round deadline has already been reset for March 23, government officials have told energypress.

Officials at privatization fund TAIPED are concerned the coronavirus crisis could impact the sale and subdue bidding interest.

DEPA Trade was established as a new gas utility DEPA entity for the privatization, offering the Greek State’s 65 percent stake.

The DEPA Trade privatization procedure can move ahead as planned because the aforementioned deadline has already been extended once and is non-binding, the energy ministry has contended, adding extension requests are limited to a very small number of investors.

Essentially, the ministry, and government as a whole, are determined to avoid any sale delays as this would reinforce the picture of a halt in economic activity.  The government sees the next fortnight as a crucial period for the coronoavirus preventive measures and economy.

Subdued interest by prospective bidders, including funds and consortiums, cannot be ruled out as Greece is still regarded as a high-risk market. These concerns also apply for the country’s two other upcoming major privatizations concerning DEPA Infrastructure and Athens International Airport.

 

Market slump a worry for DEPA Trade sale, gov’t holds firm

Privatization fund TAIPED and the energy ministry, already into the early stages of a sale offering the Greek State’s 65 percent of DEPA Trade, a new entity formed by gas utility DEPA for its privatization, are keeping a close watch on international markets, battered amid fears prompted by the coronavirus spread around the world.

The DEPA Trade sale, an emblematic energy-sector privatization, had already been given a first-round deadline extension for non-binding bids, until March 23, prior to the latest coronavirus-related market concerns. But the worsening international conditions, which prompted markets to plunge on Monday, have made the DEPA Trade sale’s officials far more vigilant.

Though an improvement of market conditions by the DEPA Trade privatization’s March 23 non-binding deadline cannot be ruled out, authorities are certainly  concerned for a number of reasons.

DEPA Trade does not offer investors secured WACC levels, as is the case with networks and infrastructure, including DEPA Infrastructure, power grid operator IPTO and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO. This absence of a fixed yield makes DEPA Trade’s value susceptible to international and domestic market turmoil.

Also, far lower LNG prices at present represent an unfavorable development for DEPA Trade as the company is committed to pipeline natural gas import agreements with take-or-pay clauses. This restricts the firm’s ability to choose.

In addition, investors, local and foreign, inevitably revise investment plans, or, at best, wait, when faced by overwhelming situations such as the coronavirus outbreak.

Furthermore, any market-slump period is not a good time to sell assets. Should markets remain unsettled for an extended period, the market value of DEPA Trade will be impacted.

The government plan remains unchanged, the DEPA Trade privatization still being at an early stage, energy ministry officials told energypress.

 

DEPA Trade sale threatened by unfinished ELFE pricing case

An unfinished legal battle between gas utility DEPA and ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals), recently vindicated by an Athens Court of First Instance verdict calling for a 63 million-euro return from the gas utility for gas supply overcharging, threatens to block the launch of a privatization offering 65 percent of DEPA Trade, a new DEPA entity established for the privatization, despite strong investor interest.

The Court of First Instance decision in favor of ELFE, delivered four months ago, is a major blow for DEPA’s finances as the sum could potentially balloon if other firms follow the example set by ELFE and also take legal action, authorities have stressed.

The court ruled that DEPA overcharged ELFE between 2010 and 2015 by applying an oil-indexed gas pricing formula used by Russia’s Gazprom.

DEPA is expected to win an appeal as the utility is backed by a strong case, sector experts have pointed out.

If, however, ELFE ultimately proves these predictions wrong and wins the case then other companies supplied by DEPA, including electricity producers, would be prompted to take legal action of their own against the utility, taking advantage of the legal precedent. This would require DEPA to return sums worth hundreds of millions of euros, in addition to the ELFE amount.

Subsequently, the DEPA Trade sale cannot proceed with such ambiguity hanging in the air as prospective bidders will simply not turn up and submit binding bids if all is not clear.

Additional IPTO stake seen offered within next three months

The government, gearing up for a series of energy sector privatizations, plans to hasten the sale of an additional yet unspecified stake in power grid operator IPTO. The procedure could now be launched within the next three months.

Investor interest in IPTO has risen as the operator’s asset value is projected to increase sharply over the next decade.

The Greek State currently controls a 51 percent share of IPTO, directly and indirectly. Late in 2019, State Grid Corp of China (SGCC), the buyer of a 24 percent stake in IPTO and holder of priority rights should any additional stake be offered, expressed an interest to boost its stake in the operator and also acquire a 20 percent stake in subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnector, project promoter of the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection, a project budgeted at one billion euros.

The size of the additional IPTO stake to be placed for sale remains unclear, but, without a doubt, SGCC’s decision on whether or not to exercise its priority right will be influential.

Italy’s Terna, holding a 30 percent stake in CDP Reti, an Italian holding company, is also believed to be interested in the upcoming IPTO sale. SGCC would also be involved here as the Chinese company holds a 35 percent stake in CDP Reti. French operator RTE and a variety of funds are also considered believed to be considering the IPTO sale.

IPTO’s assets are seen rising from a present level of 1.5 billion euros to five billion euros over the next ten years as a result of the development of major grid interconnection projects to link the country’s Dodecanese and North Aegean Islands with the mainland.

Greece’s energy-sector privatizations will not be limited to gas utility DEPA’s two new entities, DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade, both underway, nor will there be a gap until the next sale, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, scheduled for September, energy ministry officials have informed. The Hellenic Petroleum ELPE sale will be deferred.

 

‘DEPA key to Greece’s leading Balkan role, energy diversification’

Greek gas utility DEPA chief executive Konstantinos Xifaras met earlier today with the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt (photo), for a meeting focused on the recent energy-related developments in Southeast Europe as well as on the progress of significant projects in the wider region, currently under way or in design phase, such as the IGB pipeline, the Alexandroupoli FSRU and the EastMed pipeline, a project of strategic importance.

Following the meeting, Ambassador Pyatt remarked: “Greece is a leader in the Balkans in providing energy security and diversification of energy sources, and DEPA is key to its strategy. The U.S. therefore strongly supports DEPA’s participation in major projects that advance this strategy, particularly the Alexandroupoli FSRU, the IGB, TAP and potential EastMed pipeline, which are literally changing the energy map of Europe. These projects are critical for regional peace and security and will make Greece a regional energy hub.”

The DEPA chief commented: “We discussed, with the Ambassador, the course of significant energy projects currently under way in our region, in which DEPA has a leading role.  Over the past months, our company has striven to strengthen its position in the regional energy market, achieving notable cost reductions as well as expanding its activities in new sectors and products. At the same time, we remain focused on the double privatization [DEPA Trade, DEPA Infrastructure] and we are upgrading our participation in these international projects developing Greece into a regional energy hub, safeguarding, at the same time, the diversity of supply sources to the benefit of the country and consumers.”

 

ELPE not on 2020 privatizations list despite priority status, unclear why

The schedule for the Greek State’s sale of its 35.47 percent stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) remains unclear despite this privatization being declared a priority by the New Democracy government immediately following its election victory last summer.

Speaking yesterday at an energy conference, Athens Energy Dialogues, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis offered a rundown of the government’s planned privatizations for 2020. ELPE was not on the list.

Signs of a slowdown in the ELPE plan emerged in early autumn when energy minister Costis Hatzidakis requested patience from investors for this particular sale. Ministry officials reiterated this call for patience yesterday.

Towards the end of 2019, the privatization fund TAIPED declared that its 2.4 billion-euro revenue target for 2020 would be achieved as a result of a series of planned privatizations.

TAIPED, at the time, included the ELPE sale on its privatization agenda for 2020, along with Athens International Airport and the two new gas utility DEPA entities, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure.

Some pundits have attributed the government’s ELPE delay to a decision by the Latsis Group, ELPE’s main shareholder with a 45.48 percent share, not to sell and not wish the entry of any new investor into the petroleum group’s equity make-up.

Certain industry experts have gone as far as to say that the ELPE privatization has been cancelled.

Others are attributing the ELPE sale delay to the launch of the DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure privatizations. ELPE holds a 35 percent stake in DEPA and these new entities, established to serve the DEPA privatization.

Also, less favorable international conditions at present cannot be overlooked. Hatzidakis, the energy minister, has, from early on, been adamant on selling at the right time, when international conditions are at an optimal level.

Improved Gazprom deal raises DEPA in the eyes of investors

Lower-price deals sealed or about to be sealed between gas utility DEPA and its international suppliers are among the factors the government is relying on for a successful privatization procedure of the gas utility, a procedure launched yesterday, beginning with DEPA Trade, one of DEPA’s two new entities formed for the sale.

DEPA is believed to have renegotiated a far more favorable supply deal with Russia’s Gazprom, the Greek utility’s biggest supplier.

Forty percent of DEPA’s natural gas orders from Gazprom will no longer be pegged to fluctuating international oil prices. Instead, this percentage of DEPA’s Gazprom orders will be linked to price levels of Dutch gas trading platform TTF, one of Europe’s biggest hubs. Just days ago, prices at TTF were about half those of pipeline gas. The other 60 percent of DEPA’s orders with Gazprom will remain oil indexed.

This development promises to make DEPA’s supply deals with Gazprom far more competitive. Prospective bidders already appear to be warming to the prospect.

Major Greek corporate groups such as Mytilineos, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) – already holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA and considering teaming up with its Elpedison partner Edison for the DEPA sale – GEK Terna and Motor Oil are believed to be gearing up for bids. The Copelouzos group’s involvement in the DEPA Trade sale is considered certain – in a partnership with Czech entrepreneur Karel Komarek, holding a key stake in Greek lottery OPAP.

Elpedison partners still undecided on joint bid for DEPA Trade

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Italy’s Edison, co-owners of energy company Elpedison through a successful 50-50 joint venture, have yet to decide whether they will submit a joint bid for DEPA Trade, a new entity formed by gas utility DEPA as part of its privatization.

The two partners, who now fully own Elpedison following last June’s departure by Ellaktor (22.73%) and Elvalhalkor (1.48%), are keen to place greater emphasis on energy production and retail supply growth at their venture, both in electricity and natural gas.

Investors will be offered the Greek State’s 65 percent stake in DEPA Trade. ELPE controls the other 35 percent.

Elpedison officials have held preliminary talks on the DEPA Trade sale but decided to delay a decision for later on, energypress sources informed. Privatization fund TAIPED has not yet launched the DEPA Trade sale. Bidders are expected to face a March deadline.

The Elpedison partners are believed to have tabled contrasting approaches in their effort to make a joint bid for ELPE Trade, according to some sources. However, both sides have hinted that a solution can be found. An announcement on final decisions will not take long, company officials told energypress.

Both sides have rejected rumors of a breakdown in talks and preparations for separate bids.

If they unite and submit the winning joint bid for DEPA Trade, the ELPE and Edison officials will need to forge a unification plan bringing together DEPA Trade and Elpedison.

 

DEPA Trade sale launch near, Middle East tension a concern

The launch of a privatization procedure offering 100 percent of DEPA Trade, a new entity established by gas utility DEPA for the sale, is near, as long as the heightened tension in the Middle East does not lead to extreme events and turbulent market conditions.

Officials at privatization fund TAIPED and the energy ministry are aiming for a start before the end of January, while, according to some sources, the sale’s launch may take place at the end of next week.

The heightened tension in the Middle East is a concern for the organizers of this privatization as extreme developments could unsettle oil and gas markets to an extent that would render the current period unsuitable for the DEPA Trade sale. If so, officials may need to delay the sale’s launch.

TAIPED and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA, are close to reaching an agreement on the sale process of this stake should ELPE not emerge as the sale’s winning bidder. The petroleum group intends to seek a full acquisition in the DEPA sale. The details of a clause requiring ELPE to sell its stake, if the group fails to submit the winning bid, are now being worked on.

The agreement between TAIPED and ELPE will need to be endorsed by the boards of both entities.

 

 

DEPA, ELPE, south Kavala gas storage privatizations in 2020

The privatizations of gas utility DEPA – through two separate tenders offering the utility’s trade and infrastructure divisions that have resulted from a split designed for the sale – as well as the Greek State’s 35.48 percent stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), stand as the major sales planned by privatization fund TAIPED in 2020.

TAIPED also plans to push ahead with a tender for the conversion of a depleted natural gas field in the offshore South Kavala region into an underground gas storage facility in the New Year.

The DEPA and ELPE privatizations are expected to raise one billion euros from a target of 2.4 billion euros set for 2020. If achieved, this amount will represent a new privatization revenue record for TAIPED.

The DEPA Infrastructure tender is already in progress. Participants are due to express non-binding interest by February 14. The DEPA Trade tender is expected to be launched within January. TAIPED is confident both these sales can be completed in 2020.

A planned privatization to offer a 30 percent stake in Athens International Airport ranks as TAIPED’s other major sale plan for 2020. The Greek State currently holds a 55 percent stake in Athens International Airport S.A. or AIA, the airport authority that owns and manages Athens International Airport.

DEPA Infrastructure sale first-round deadline set for Feb.14

Interested buyers of DEPA Infrastructure, a new entity emerging from a split at gas utility DEPA, have until February 14 to express non-binding first-round interest in its sale, offering the entire stake, the privatization fund TAIPED has announced.

TAIPED is selling the Greek State’s 65 percent stake and Hellenic Petroleum has contributed its full 35 percent stake.

Strategic investors as well as investment funds seeking strong yields have already displayed strong interest in the sale, TAIPED sources have informed media.

Procedures concerning the privatization of DEPA’s other new entity, DEPA Trade, are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2020. It remains unclear whether ELPE will contribute its 35 percent DEPA stake to this sale. ELPE has noted it will seek to take full control of this new company by acquiring the other 65 percent.

Greek groups, all involved in the energy sector, and foreign groups, some of which have already entered the country’s energy market, are interested in DEPA Trade, TAIPED sources added.

Alexandroupoli FSRU 2nd-round market test ready for launch

Gastrade, heading an effort for the development of an FSRU in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, is preparing to launch a binding second-round market test.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has approved the procedure’s finalized texts concerning participation terms and conditions, indicative tariffs, schedules and a capacity reservation model for the LNG terminal.

The second-round market test could be completed by the end of January, it is anticipated. This would pave the way for a final investment decision by the company while a concurrent effort is made to finalize the venture’s equity make-up.

Besides the Copelouzos group, the venture’s initiator, GasLog, active in LNG transportation, is also on board with a 20 percent stake. A final decision by gas utility DEPA on its participation, also with a 20 percent stake, remains pending.

DEPA’s prospective involvement in the Alexandroupoli FSRU project, considered a certainty, has been passed on to DEPA Trade, a new entity established in preparation for DEPA’s privatization.

A final decision by Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) concerning its possible entry with a 20 percent stake is also pending.

An effort offering the remaining 20 percent is in progress. Candidates include Romgaz, Romania’s biggest natural gas producer and main supplier in the domestic market. The company’s shareholders recently voted to enter the Alexandroupoli FSRU project.

“We are very optimistic. We believe we will do better than what we need to in order to make the final investment decision,” Gastrade’s chief executive Costis Sifneos noted recently.

Greece’s decarbonization program, announced recently by the government, will bring about major changes to the country’s energy mix, according to Sifneos. He expects the domestic natural gas market to grow from its current size of 4.5 billion cubic meters, annually, to 7 billion cubic meters over the next 5 to 7 years.

The Greek gas market has grown by 17 percent this year alone, while, for the first time, LNG quantities exceeded pipeline gas.

DEPA Infrastructure sale to be announced mid-December

Privatization fund TAIPED is preparing swift privatization action at gas utility DEPA to follow the government’s ratification of a restructuring plan at the company that will place for sale two new corporate entities, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure, emerging through this process.

A tender offering investors the Greek State’s 65 percent of DEPA Infrastructure – resulting from the Greek State’s equivalent stake in DEPA – will be announced no later than December 15, according to energypress sources.

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s 35 percent stake – resulting from the Greek State’s equivalent stake in DEPA – is expected to be included in the DEPA Infrastructure sale, sources noted. The petroleum group has indicated it is not interested in maintaining interests in DEPA Infrastructure. If this is so, then the potential buyer or buyers of DEPA Infrastructure will become full owner.

DEPA Infrastructure is the full owner of Attiki gas distributor, covering the wider Athens area, and DEDA, covering the rest of Greece. DEPA Infrastructure also holds a 51 percent stake in distributor EDA Thess (Thessaloniki and Thessaly). Italy’s ENI is the minority partner in this venture.

DEPA Infrastructure, through all its interests, has lined up a five-year investment program worth 250 million euros. Revenues at DEPA Infrastructure are regulated and worth a total of approximately 130 million euros.

Italy’s Italgas and Germany’s E.ON are believed to be among the potential bidders for DEPA Infrastructure. Belgium’s Fluxys and Spain’s Enagas, both part of a three-member consortium controlling Greek gas grid operator DESFA, may also participate in the DEPA Infrastructure sale.

The announcement of a sale procedure for DEPA Trade will follow and is expected by the end of January.

ELPE is not expected to offer its 35 percent stake to this sale, meaning bidders will most probably be bidding for the Greek State’s 65 percent.

The Mytilineos group, Motor Oil and a partnership comprised of Copelouzos and KKCG, the Czech company holding a stake in Greek lottery company OPAP, are seen as likely participants in the privatization fund’s ELPE Trade sale. International players ENI and Edison have also been mentioned by pundits.

 

Italian energy firms eyeing array of local investments, PM in Italy

Italian investors are displaying widespread interest for energy investments in the Greek market, including possible stakes in distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, power grid operator IPTO, gas utility DEPA’s two new entities DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure, as well as joint ventures in wind energy stations, electric vehicle projects and smart grids.

Deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas, joining Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on an official visit to Rome today, is expected to be informed of this Italian investment interest. Thomas is scheduled to meet with Italian economic development minister Stefano Patuanelli.

The Greek Prime Minister, to meet with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte, can also expect to hear of this Italian investment interest during talks which, besides the refugee crisis, will also address cross-border energy projects such as TAP and East Med.

Snam maintains the most emblematic of Italian investments in the Greek market at present with a 66 percent stake in gas grid operator DESFA, including control of the country’s natural gas transmission and storage infrastructure.

Italian firms are regarded as pioneers in a number of green-energy domains, including smart grids, electric vehicle recharging station installations along highways, even wave power projects.

Just days ago, a consortium comprising Eni, Fincantieri and Terna announced it would commercially develop its pilot project Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter (ISWEC) for wave energy generation, initially at small Italian islands, followed by projects abroad.

The Greek Prime Minister and his energy deputy will also meet with Italian entrepreneurs, including Eni gas e luce chief executive Alberto Chiarini.

Italy’s Terna, one of Europe’s biggest transmission system operators, is believed to be interested in acquiring a stake of IPTO and its Ariadne subsidiary, project promoter of the submarine Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

Enel is considering moves into networks, renewable energy investments and the electric vehicles sector.

Italgas, Italy’s biggest gas distributor and the continent’s third biggest, appears interested in DEPA Infrastructure. Italgas is believed to have reached a preliminary agreement to acquire fellow Italian company Eni gas e luce’s 49 percent stake and management rights in EDA Thess, covering the Thessaloniki and Thessaly areas.

Eni, increasing its involvement in pioneering projects, including wave energy, is believed to be looking to increase its Greek market presence, possibly through acquisitions.