Incoming LNG shipments down sharply, prices rise globally

LNG shipments into Greece are headed for a quieter period following heightened recent trading activity that put this energy source at the domestic sector’s forefront in the first half of 2020, overshadowing pipeline gas supply.

Latest activity indicates a swing in favor of pipeline gas, now favorably priced.

Last November, 18 tankers docked at gas grid operator DESFA’s Revythoussa LNG terminal just off Athens, bringing in a total amount of 1.5 million cubic meters of LNG, well over the schedule for this coming November, limited to three tankers booked for a total of 355,000 cubic meters.

Activity at the Revythoussa terminal was also subdued last month. Four LNG tankers brought in a total quantity of nearly 300,000 cubic meters.

LNG prices at the Dutch gas trading platform TTF, one of Europe’s biggest hubs, have risen constantly, as is the case internationally, following a dip in July.

Analysts believe rising demand in Asia, especially China, will make up for anemic demand in Europe and push LNG prices even higher as winter approaches.

Pipeline gas supply is expected to reassert its position in Greece.

Three bidders express first-round interest in South Kavala UGS tender

Τhree interested parties have submitted expressions of interest to a tender offering use, development and operation of an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece, The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF S.A.) has announced in a statement.

Expressions of Interest were submitted by the following parties, in alphabetical order:

  • CHINA MACHINERY ENGINEERING CO. LTD. (CMEC) – MAISON GROUP
  • DESFA – GEK TERNA
  • ENERGEAN OIL & GAS

HRADF’s advisors will evaluate the aforementioned expressions of interest and submit to the fund’s Board of Directors their recommendation regarding the candidates that qualify for the next phase of the tender (binding offers phase).

The almost depleted natural gas field “South Kavala” is located in the southwestern part of the Prinos-Kavala basin, in 52 meters of water depth in the North Aegean Sea, about 6 km off the west coast of Thassos.

The duration of the concession agreement will be up to 50 years following the licensing of the UGS in South Kavala. The conversion of the natural gas field “South Kavala” into a UGS will be carried out by the concessionaire within a binding period to be determined in the concession agreement.

The UGS South Kavala is intended to serve as energy infrastructure that will enhance the security of supply in the Greek market as well as in Southeastern Europe, ensuring gas supply to end users and facilitating security-of-supply obligations of power producers and natural gas suppliers.

Storengy’s Kavala UGS tender exit prompts formation changes

A decision by France’s Storengy (Engie) to not participate in a forthcoming tender offering an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) license for the almost depleted South Kavala offshore natural gas field in the country’s north has prompted a domino effect of formation changes by groups of investors planning to bid.

GEK TERNA appears to have formed an association with gas grid operator DESFA for the tender after having previously agreed to join forces with Energean Oil & Gas and Storengy.

Energean Oil & Gas, holding a license for the virtually depleted South Kavala field, has not remained an onlooker. The company has also found a partner, believed to be domestic, from the construction sector, according to sources.

To date, Energean Oil & Gas has held talks with three major groups, Mytilineos, AVAX and Aktor, the same sources added.

A Chinese investor is also believed to be interested in the South Kavala UGS tender, staged by privatization fund TAIPED, but will not link up with any partners.

The tender is offering rights for the use, development and exploitation of the virtually depleted offshore natural gas field south of Kavala as a UGS facility for a period of up to 50 years.

Participants must submit first-round, non-binding offers by October 19 following three deadline extensions.

South Kavala UGS bidders talk formations as deadline nears

Prospective bidders of an upcoming tender to offer an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) license for the almost depleted South Kavala offshore natural gas field in the country’s north are deliberating over possible partnerships as the October 19 deadline for official expressions of interest approaches.

Greek gas grid operator DESFA, Energean Oil & Gas and GEK TERNA will participate in the tender, according to enegypress sources, while some market officials believe a Chinese company, not yet revealed, is also interested.

All three Greek companies have remained tight-lipped on possible partnership formations for the tender. GEK TERNA and Energean Oil & Gas are believed to be discussing the prospect of teaming up, while DESFA and the Chinese company will most likely enter the tender alone, energypress sources informed.

The tender, staged by privatization fund TAIPED, will offer rights for the use, development and exploitation of the virtually depleted offshore natural gas field south of Kavala as a UGS facility for a period of up to 50 years.

Investments needed for the project’s development are estimated between 300 and 400 million euros.

The field is located approximately 6 kilometers from the west coast of the island Thasos, in the North Aegean Sea, at a depth of 52 meters.

Its development into a UGS facility promises to contribute to Greece’s energy security and that of southeast Europe.

TAP’s commercial launch now on the final stretch

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project, to enable the delivery of Caspian gas to destinations throughout southeastern, central and western Europe, is almost ready for its commercial launch, four years after construction began and 17 years after its first feasibility study was conducted.

The project, running from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan, will represent the EU’s main alternative route for natural gas, greatly contributing to the end of the continent’s dependence on Russian gas, supply security and intensified competition.

The TAP project will begin operating at a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters, annually.

Greece was the first of the project’s host countries to complete its segment of construction work, a 550-km stretch across northern Greece, from Evros’ Kipoi area in the northeast to Ieropigi in the Kastoria province, at the Greek-Albanian border.

Just days ago, Greece’s energy ministry approved the operation of the project’s Greek segment, running from Evros to Rodopi, Xanthi, Kavala, Drama, Serres, Thessaloniki, Kilkis, Pella, Imathia, Florina, Kozani and Kastroria.

Authorities of the project’s two other host nations, Albania and Italy, will soon grant their respective operating permits, sources informed.

The project’s commercial launch is expected to take place close to the final quarter this year, the energy ministry has announced.

The Greek and Italian gas grid operators, DESFA and Snam, respectively, will need to prepare their national grids so that natural gas quantities can reach consumers via TAP, sources added.

 

Storengy exits UGS tender, partners seek new operator

France’s Storengy appears to have stepped back from an upcoming tender for the privatization of an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at an almost depleted South Kavala offshore natural gas field in the country’s north, energypress understands.

Storengy, a subsidiary of the Engie group, had formed a three-member consortium with Energean Oil & Gas, holder of the South Kavala field’s license, and construction firm GEK-Terna for this tender.

Storengy’s apparent decision to withdraw from the South Kavala tender may be linked to a decision reached two years earlier by Engie for a revision of its international interests and investment plans.

Energean Oil & Gas and GEK-Terna, Storengy’s two partners for the South Kavala tender, remain interested in expressing first-round interest by a September 30 deadline, but to do so, they must find a new partner, a certified gas grid operator, as required by the tender’s regulations.

The two players have subsequently moved closer to gas grid operator DESFA, already eyeing this tender. According to sources, talks between the two sides have commenced. DESFA will need to hold a stake of at least 20 percent in any partnership formed.

Both sides are also believed to be considering other partnership options. Storengy’s withdrawal could also bring in unanticipated European operators.

Investments of approximately 300 to 400 million euros will be needed to develop the South Kavala UGS.

DESFA, seeking leading role, awaits RAE approval of investment plan

Gas grid operator DESFA’s majority stakeholder Senfluga – a consortium comprising three European operators, Snam, Fluxys and Enagas, as well as Greek energy company Damco – holding a 66 percent stake in the former state-controlled utility – is striving for extroversion and a leading market role in Greece’s post-lignite era.

As was recently indicated by DESFA’s chief executive Nicola Battilana, the company is striving to push ahead with major investment plans to bolster the role of natural gas as a transitional fuel towards climate-neutral energy systems, and also upgrade Greece’s geostrategic role in the southeast Mediterranean.

DESFA’s investment interest very much depends on the position to be adopted by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on projects of national significance. The gas grid operator anticipates the authority will approve, within the next few days, its ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030, worth 500 million euros.

The gas grid operator is looking for swift approval of the plan. Fast action would help the country’s climate-change objectives set by the Greek government.

Besides the Greek market, DESFA is also seeking to generate revenue through various projects abroad. DESFA is expected to be declared the winning bidder in a tender for the maintenance and operation of a Liquefied Natural Gas Import LNGI facility developed in Kuwait by state-run KIPIC.

DESFA is also working on a series of other interests, including becoming the fifth member of a team behind the Alexandroupoli FSRU project, a floating LNG terminal envisaged for Greece’s northeast. This FSRU, geostrategically significant for Greece, promises alternate LNG supply to the Balkans.

Project licensing preparations are also being made by DESFA for a pipeline interconnection to link Greece and North Macedonia. The operator anticipates a market test co-staged by DESFA and MER, the neighboring country’s gas grid operator, will produce favorable results.

Other project plans at DESFA include gas grid expansion in Greece’s west Macedonia region, to facilitate the entry of natural gas where lignite has dominated as an energy source.

DESFA one step away from Alexandroupoli FSRU entry

Just days after the entry of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz, Greek gas grid operator DESFA appears set to become the fifth member of Gastrade, the company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal envisioned for Greece’s northeast.

Talks concerning a DESFA entry, ongoing since the beginning of this year, have essentially concluded, while an announcement of the operator’s entry into Gastrade’s line-up is expected soon, no later than the end of September, energypress sources informed.

DESFA’s interest to join the consortium for the Alexandroupoli FSRU project, the first ever private-sector plan for such infrastructure in Greece, reflects the intention of the company’s new ownership and administration to broaden DESFA’s role from gas grid operator to a major player in Greece’s natural gas market.

As for Gastrade, keen to establish partnerships that support its strategic objectives, DESFA’s expected entry into the Alexandroupoli FSRU consortium appears to have been encouraged as a result of the operator’s knowhow, as a TSO, in LNG and the Greek gas market, its players, as well as the legal framework.

DESFA’s entry would also give the Greek State a stake in the Alexandroupoli project, supported for years by the previous and current Greek governments.

Besides the Copelouzos group, holding a 40 percent stake, the Gastrade consortium is currently also made up of Gaslog, Greek gas utility DEPA, and Bulgartransgaz, each holding 20 percent stakes. The entry of a fifth member will give all partners equal 20 percent shares.

The project, budgeted at 380 million euros, is expected to be launched no later than early 2023.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU, along with the existing Revythoussa islet LNG terminal just off Athens, are crucial given the current strains in Greek-Turkish relations as the two units represent the country’s only gas infrastructure not relying on Turkish territory.

The LNG terminals also promise to increase competition in the regional market and reduce natural gas supply costs to neighboring countries.

A market test was successfully completed for the Alexandroupoli FSRU in March.

Two, possibly three, bidders for South Kavala UGS license

An upcoming tender to offer an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) license for the almost depleted South Kavala offshore natural gas field in the country’s north is expected to attract the interest of two, or possibly three, bidding teams.

Interested parties have been given an extension to express non-binding first-round interest. Prospective participants are busy preparing.

The participation of Storengy – a three-member consortium formed by France’s Engie, Energean Oil & Gas, holder of the South Kavala field’s license, and construction firm GEK-Terna – is considered a certainty as this consortium was established in anticipation of this tender.

Greek gas grid operator DESFA, increasingly active, since its privatization, in various projects, including some beyond its more customary operator-related bounds, is seen as another certain bidder for the South Kavala UGS license.

Senfluga, the consortium of companies that acquired a 66 percent stake of DESFA, appears very interested in the South Kavala UGS tender. This consortium’s current line-up is comprised of: Snam (54%), Enagas (18%), Fluxys (18%) and Copelouzos group member Damco (10%).

Though Senfluga’s three foreign partners – Snam, Enagas and Fluxys – are examining the prospect of joining DESFA to express joint interest, separate bids from the two sides are considered likeliest. The main reason for this has to do with certain tender rules that restrict the ability of consortiums participating in the first round to then reshuffle, if needed.

Pricing policy regulations expected from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, ahead of binding offers, will be crucial to how the tender plays out as these rules will determine the project’s earnings potential and level of bids.

Long-standing DESFA northern Greece pipeline plan scrapped

Gas grid operator DESFA has scrapped plans for a natural gas pipeline that had been envisioned to run across northern Greece, from Komotini in the northeast to Thesprotia in the northwest, after maintaining the project in the company’s business plans for about a decade.

DESFA reached this decision as Russian President Vladimir Putin is supporting Gazprom’s development of a second branch for the wider Turkish Stream gas project, deviating Ukraine, to supply the Balkans and central Europe via Bulgaria, not Greece, as was initially considered.

A first Turkish Stream branch supplying Russian gas to Turkey is already operating.

“The project remained on the business plan for approximately ten years without progressing to the construction stage, while there is no sign of conditions leading to its construction in the immediate future,” DESFA announced.

The Komotini-Thesprotia pipeline project was budgeted at 1.8 billion euros.

The total cost of projects included in DEFSA’s development plan for 2021-2030 is now budgeted at 545.5 million euros.

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, DESFA, Port of Patras sign MoU for LNG bunkering

Gas utility DEPA, gas grid operator DESFA and the Port Authority of Patras (PPA) have signed a memorandum of understanding, its objective being to promote the use of LNG as marine fuel, given the new opportunities and development prospects for the Port of Patras and the wider region, the three partners have announced in a joint statement.

In particular, the memorandum provisions to jointly explore the LNG market growth capacity in terms of the use of LNG as a marine fuel in Patras, as well as to study all the required actions and the business cooperation framework for the construction of small-scale LNG facilities, as stipulated in the Port of Patras’ master plan, the statement noted.

Furthermore, the three parties agreed to promptly establish a joint task force for the implementation of the MoU and the completion of the required studies so as to:

  1. a) explore the feasibility and the conditions for the construction of small-scale LNG facilities
  2. b) the formulation and submission of the proposal regarding the facilities’ construction financing by European or national resources and
  3. c) the determination of the terms and scheme of a potential cooperation of the companies from a legal and business standpoint, for the promotion of the project.

For its part, PPA will train the Port’s personnel that will support LNG supply procedures and will adapt the Port Regulation so as to include the supply of ships with LNG.

The signing of the MoU is the first step towards the implementation of LNG bunkering at the Port of Patras, expecting to add value to the Port, as it will enhance its competitiveness in the wider Adriatic and Ionian region. At the same time, it will have a positive impact on the environment through the use of LNG as marine fuel.

The use of LNG as a marine fuel has multiple social, economic and environmental benefits, such as the creation of new employment opportunities, reduced public health damage – caused by ship emissions in urban centers near ports and coastal areas – the upgrade of the natural environment by reducing emissions and noise pollution, as well as further development of local economies through the dynamics resulting from using LNG.

Compared to conventional marine fuels, LNG contributes to the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions, nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and suspended particulate matter (PM).

It is noted that the Port’s master plan was updated in terms of small-scale LNG facilities under the co-financed by the European Union program Poseidon Μed ΙΙ (PMII), which is a practical roadmap towards the wide adoption of LNG as a safe, environmentally efficient and viable alternative fuel for shipping,  helping East Mediterranean marine transportation propel towards a low-carbon future. DEPA is the coordinator of the Poseidon Med II program, DESFA is the technical coordinator and Patras Port Authority  one of the main partners.

On the occasion of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, the CEO of DEPA, Konstantinos Xifaras, stated:

“DEPA is one of the key LNG suppliers in Greece, with great experience in related activities. In addition, as the coordinator of the European programs POSEIDON MED II and BlueHUBS, our company decisively contributes to the development of a comprehensive LNG supply chain for shipping and ports in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this context, DEPA is proceeding with the construction of a new LNG bunkering vessel for maritime use and the acquisition of two LNG Tanker Trucks that will serve the port of Piraeus. With this MoU, we join forces with DESFA and PPA to develop LNG facilities in the port of Patras, supplying the ships of the wider area with an environmentally friendly and, at the same time, competitive fuel as required by the EU’s and International Maritime Organization’s latest directives”.

For his part, the CEO of DESFA, Nicola Battilana, stated:

“Infrastructure is a key condition for the development of the regional and national economy. DESFA, as the Operator of the National Natural Gas System, is a strong supporter of any cooperation that contributes to the sustainable development of energy infrastructure. This MoU paves the way for examining the feasibility and the conditions for the construction of small-scale LNG facilities in one of the country’s main ports, while bringing Greece one step closer to developing a core LNG refueling network in maritime and inland ports by the end of 2025 and 2030, respectively, as defined by the DAFI Directive. Having as an ally sustainable development, the port of Patras strengthens its competitiveness to other ports in the Adriatic and Ionian region, while boosting local job openings and improving the environmental conditions of the city of Patras”.

The CEO of PPA Panagiotis Tsonis stated:

“Today is a great day for the Port of Patras. With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, we are taking an important step towards making our Port more modern and more competitive domestically and internationally. I want to thank the Management of DEPA and DESFA for the cooperation and I am confident that we will enter the implementation stage”.

Photo (left to right): Nicola Battilana – CEO DESFA, Konstantinos XifarasCEO DEPA, Panagiotis Tsonis- CEO PPA

RAE’s WACC reduction for operators ultimately neutralized

A recent decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, reducing the WACC rate amid a fixed four-year period for energy market operators, as a result of the government’s corporate tax reduction from 29 to 24 percent, is ultimately expected to be neutralized as the authority has asked operators to submit updated data based on latest market conditions, including borrowing costs, all factors applied by the authority to its WACC formula.

Gas grid operator DESFA, power grid operator IPTO, as well as the country’s gas distributors EDA Attiki, EDA Thess and DEDA, initially reacted against RAE’s intention to reduce the WACC rate, determining earnings, within the preset four-year period. It is supposed to be adjusted every four years.

However, RAE’s latest call for updated data from operators and distributors, effectively promising to offset any WACC rate adjustment, has been well received.

 

DEDA wants review of decision dropping 8 cities from 5-year development plan

Gas distributor DEDA wants RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to review its recent decision removing the entire Peloponnese and provincial cities Veria and Giannitsa from the distributor’s five-year development plan covering 2020 to 2024. DEDA has lodged a review request to RAE, sources informed.

In addition, the gas distributor has also delivered an upgraded 2020-2024 development program to the authority that envisions swifter development of natural gas distribution networks in Veria and Giannitsa.

Completion of these two network projects faced an 18-month delay, according to the previous schedule, prompting the authority to drop both from the DEDA five-year plan.

As for DEDA’s network development plan in the Peloponnese, covering six provincial cities, Tripoli, Corinthos, Argos, Nafplio, Sparti and Kalamata, the distributor intends to resubmit a revised and expanded five-year plan in September.

Regional Peloponnese authorities expect NSRF support to become available by September.

Gas grid operator DESFA is also planning to develop related projects needed for the Peloponnese grid.

Also, DESFA’s new business plan includes LNG truck-loading supply plans for Sparti and Kalamata, from the Revythoussa islet terminal off Athens.

Meanwhile, tenders offering construction contracts for gas networks covering northern Greece’s east Macedonia, Thrace and central Macedonia regions, as well as central Greece, are expected be launched in early July.

Gas firms look to hydrogen for maintenance of EU funding

Natural gas distribution and trading companies around Europe, including Greece, are turning to eco-friendly hydrogen in an effort to overcome European Commission financing prohibitions, following 2021, for fossil fuel-linked pipelines and other infrastructure.

Greece’s gas grid operator DESFA and gas utility DEPA are currently seeking ways to secure financial support for projects through EU funding and the European Investment Bank.

Converting these investment plans into eco-friendly projects by turning to hydrogen, a RES-generated fuel, is one alternative.

DESFA, counting on the experience of its main shareholders, Snam, Fluxys and Enagas – the trio’s Senfluga consortium controls the operator with a 66 percent stake – is examining the prospect of transmitting hydrogen through the national gas grid, the Greek gas grid operator’s chief executive Nicola Battilana told the four-day Delphi Economic Forum, ending tomorrow.

This DESFA investment plan could be revealed as part of the operator’s next ten-year business plan, now being put together.

DEPA chief executive Kostas Xifaras also spoke of the opportunities offered by hydrogen. The Greek gas utility and its Italian partner Edison are believed to be open to the prospect of establishing partnerships with third parties for hydrogen transmission through the prospective East Med pipeline.

Hydrogen has the potential to play a key role in energy transition and climate-change objectives, noted Aristotelis Chantavas, head of Enel Green Power Hellas.

Representatives of eight EU member states, Greece, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, among them Greek deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas, recently stressed the significance of maintaining EU funding support for natural gas projects.

 

Energy exchange preparing spot market for natural gas

The Greek energy exchange has started working on the creation of a modern gas trading platform, energpress sources have informed.

A related study taking into account the needs and interests of companies has been completed as part of the preliminary work. A finalized decision on the effort’s schedule is soon expected.

At present, Greece does not possess an organized wholesale market for natural gas. Commercial transactions are mainly based on two-way agreements between producers and suppliers.

The Greek energy exchange, combining its efforts with gas grid operator DESFA, intends to create a spot market offering conditions that will determine natural gas prices through supply and demand amid a transparent environment to be trusted by all parties involved.

Energy exchange officials believe Greece’s geopolitical role will be pivotal in establishing the country as a central natural gas supply route to markets in southeast Europe.

Authorities, market players to discuss LNG terminal’s slot reservation rules

The latest developments of a plan aiming to revise slot reservation rules at gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa just off Athens will be discussed between authorities and market players at a one-day conference planned by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for this Thursday.

A latest proposal delivered by DESFA to RAE as part of consultation will serve as the basis of the discussion.

The new slot-reservation formula being worked on for the Revythoussa terminal will aim to maximize LNG shipments to the facility while also restricting time slots registrations made by traders purely for the sake of protecting gas market shares.

Power utility PPC and Motor Oil were both left off the Revythoussa facility’s unloading plan for 2020 after failing to secure slots amid conditions of heightened demand.

Authorities want to avoid a repeat of such a situation. PPC and Motor Oil had used the LNG terminal a year earlier.

Participants at this Thursday’s event will be offered the opportunity to present observations before Revythoussa rules are revised and implemented for next winter.

The event should offer LNG importers a clearer indication of the terminal’s new rules before ordering plans for 2021 are pursued. As has been the case this year, LNG demand is also expected to be elevated in 2021.

DESFA considering west Macedonia pipeline expansion

Gas grid operator DESFA’s next ten-year development plan, for 2021 to 2030, may include gas network extension projects in areas that have not featured in previous plans, including northern Greece’s west Macedonia region.

The shape and extent of the pipeline network expansion plan will depend on the development, or not, of regional natural gas-fired power stations by electricity producers.

Preliminary considerations for DESFA’s new ten-year development plan come just weeks after a delayed approval by authorities of the operator’s ten-year plan covering 2020 to 2029.

A prospective decision by power grid operator PPC on whether its Ptolemaida V power station will operate as a natural gas-fired unit will be instrumental in shaping DESFA’s investment decisions for pipeline network expansions in the west Macedonia area.

DESFA also intends to develop metering stations at TAP project corridor points as the capacity to be offered by the TAP project will not suffice to cover regional needs if natural gas-fired power stations are developed in the west Macedonia region.

DESFA plans to construct three new metering and regulating stations in the Eordea, Kastoria and Aspros (Edessa, Naoussa, Giannitsa) areas, their budget totaling 8 million euros. These stations, whose completion is expected by the end of 2022, will enable the development of a mid and low-voltage network for natural gas transmission to these areas.

 

Gas imports up 17% in first four months, LNG at the forefront

Gas imports for both large and small-scale consumers increased by 17 percent in the year’s first four-month period, defying unprecedented market conditions brought about by the pandemic, especially during March and April, the peak of the lockdown.

Gas imports totaled 21,393 GWh between January and April this year compared to 18,211 GWh during the equivalent period a year earlier, according to data provided by DESFA, the gas grid operator.

During the four-month period, gas imports at DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa just off Athens rose to 11,679 GWh, a 45 percent increase compared to a year earlier. This terminal was the national gas grid’s biggest entry point.

Sidirokastro, at the Greek-Bulgarian border, followed with a pipeline-gas quantity of 7,952 GWh, an 8 percent drop compared to the equivalent four-month period a year earlier. Even so, Sidirokastro remains an important entry point.

The country’s other pipeline-gas entry point, Kipoi, in the Evros region, northeastern Greece, registered a 13 percent year-on-year increase of natural gas imports to reach 1,762 GWh.

The aforementioned data reconfirms a market overturn that emerged last year to show LNG imports exceed incoming pipeline gas amounts via the grid’s Sidirokastro and Kipoi entry points.

This trend highlights the fact that major Greek energy market players have been able to secure competitively priced LNG and favorable delivery solutions.

Revythoussa at full capacity in May, 10 LNG orders scheduled

A total of nine LNG shipments are scheduled to be delivered to the Revythoussa islet terminal just off Athens in May, taking the facility to full capacity for yet another month, data provided by gas grid operator DESFA has shown.

Three LNG tankers are scheduled to bring in three big orders for a total of ten recipients in May.

The inflow has already begun. Last week, the Maran Gas Ulysses, a tanker belonging to the Aggelikousis group, imported 149,254 cubic meters for four buyers, Motor Oil, Heron, gas utility DEPA and Mytilineos, whose share, 74,627 cubic meters, was the biggest.

The next shipment, scheduled to be delivered to the Revythoussa terminal on May 20 by the Gaslog tanker belonging to the Livanos group, will deliver 147,710 cubic meters of LNG for Elpedison and power utility PPC, taking the bigger share of the two buyers, 127,031 cubic meters.

A third and final LNG shipment for the month is scheduled to arrive May 31 on the British Saphire tanker, owned by BP. This vessel will bring in 121,123 cubic meters of LNG for DEPA and Elpedison, the bigger of the two buyers with a 64,993 cubic-meter order.

A total of five big LNG shipments are expected in June for orders placed by Mytilineos, Elpedison and DEPA.

Senfluga allocates €500,000 to Greek health and non-profit sectors

Senfluga, the company owned by Italy’s Snam (54%), Spain’s Enagas (18%), Belgium’s Fluxys (18%) and Coupelouzos Group’s DAMCO ENERGY SA (10%), has allocated 500,000 euros for the Greek health system and non-profit sector, the company announced in a statement.

These Senfluga funds enabled the purchase of 90,000 isolation suits from a Chinese supplier. The medical material will be shipped to Greece in the next few days.

The donation is also aimed at supporting social initiatives advanced by foundations. Funds have already been primarily allocated to the national health system as well as NGOs such as ActionAid Hellas, Doctors of the World Greece and IASIS, which, together, have activated a helpline and are contributing to efforts made by the Greek State for relief and support measures.

Senfluga is the main shareholder of Greek gas grid operator DESFA with a 66 percent stake.

Kavala gas storage unit cost-benefit study nearing completion

A cost-benefit analysis being prepared by the privatization fund TAIPED for the development of a gas storage facility at a virtually depleted offshore gas field south of Kavala is nearing completion.

This analysis is needed for the facility’s privatization procedure, whose first-round tender will most likely be launched early in the second half of this year, energypress sources have informed.

TAIPED and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, are currently exchanging information on project details ahead of the tender.

A joint ministerial decision – another privatization prerequisite – issued last month offers terms and conditions.

Once the cost-benefit analysis has been completed, RAE, according to the ministerial decision, will have four months to determine a pricing policy formula for the south Kavala facility.

Besides private-sector investors, gas grid operator DESFA operator and its shareholders will also be able to participate in the tender on equal terms. The project will operate independently, even if DESFA emerges as the winning bidder.

 

DESFA 10-year plan approved, virtual pipelines not included

Gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan has been approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, following a lengthy procedure, including consultation, that lasted several months.

A virtual pipeline proposal envisioning LNG supply to Crete, the north Aegean islands and the Dodecanese via tankers from the operator’s Revythoussa terminal just off Athens was left out of the approved plan. This is the ten-year plan’s only notable change compared to the draft forwarded for consultation.

LNG virtual pipelines serve as a substitute for conventional gas pipelines to enable the transport of LNG to points of use by sea, road or a combination of these.

The virtual pipeline proposal was removed from the DESFA ten-year plan following concerns expressed by consultation participants over higher surcharge costs for consumers that could have been imposed as part of the project’s cost recovery procedure.

The gas grid operator’s ten-year plan includes, for the first time, a natural gas outlet along the TAP route for the west Macedonia region in Greece’s north.

This TAP outlet, a project budgeted at 3 million euros and expected to be launched late in 2022, is intended to supply natural gas to the area’s provincial cities of Kozani, Ptolemaida, Florina and Amynteo for use at telethermal facilities as well as other energy needs in the post-lignite era.

The area’s telethermal system currently relies on energy produced by power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, soon set for withdrawal as part of the country’s decarbonization effort.

 

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.

Kavala gas storage unit an independent grid project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Utilities prepare emergency coronavirus plan for energy security

The country’s energy utilities have prepared an emergency plan – comprised of alternatives – designed to ensure ongoing operations at strategically important energy facilities amid the coronavirus outbreak, now also a growing concern in Greece.

The emergency plan, prepared by leading officials at power utility PPC, power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, gas grid operator DESFA and gas utility DEPA, in agreement with the energy ministry, is designed to offer maximum coronavirus protection to personnel, especially staff employed at energy production and distribution management posts.

The plan includes three alert levels, mild, medium and pandemic conditions.

Preventive disinfection operations are being carried out at utility facilities. Emphasis is being placed on IPTO’s national and regional energy control centers, DESFA’s LNG storage station on the islet Revythoussa, off Athens, as well as PPC’s power stations.

The plan also includes shift replacements and personnel transfers in the event of coronavirus spreads within utility ranks, as well as secluded on-site accommodation for personnel at energy infrastructure locations and power stations.

Online preparations are also being made to enable headquarter-based personnel to work from home should the outbreak worsen.

Overall, preventive measures promoted by national health authorities are being applied.

Energy utility officials who took part in a related energy ministry meeting have assured government authorities that the country’s electricity and natural gas supply will remain uninterrupted.

 

Energy firms react against RAE plan for WACC reduction

The prospect of upcoming WACC level reductions reportedly planned by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for gas grid operator DESFA, power grid operator IPTO, as well as the country’s gas distributors EDA Attiki, EDA Thess, DEDA and their parent company DEPA, the gas utility, has unsettled the administrations of all these companies.

Though RAE has not yet reached a decision on the matter, the aforementioned energy companies understand the authority is working to soon lower their WACC levels as a follow-up adjustment to the government’s business tax rate reduction, from 29 to 24 percent.

RAE has endorsed the current WACC levels for a four-year period. A revision at this point would cancel out this endorsement.

The energy companies will push for a delay of any WACC rate revisions until the four-year period has expired, it is believed.

DESFA officials have already pointed out a need for stability and predictability, also stressing the company has invested heavily in the operator during a difficult period for the country.

DEPA’s gas distribution companies fear a WACC revision may negatively impact an ongoing privatization procedure for DEPA Infrastructure, a new DEPA entity established for the privatization.

DEPA and its associated firms have warned DEPA Infrastructure would become a less attractive prospect for nine candidates who have expressed first-round interest, while a revision before the WACC level’s four-year period has been completed could be interpreted as a signal of uncertainty by investors.

DESFA wants stricter slot reservation rules for LNG terminal

Gas grid operator DESFA aims to significantly revise slot reservation rules for its LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, the operator’s objective being to prevent reservations of expediency made by traders purely interested in protecting their market shares by fending off other users from the facility.

A related proposal of new regulations, already forwarded by DESFA to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will instead aim to support use of the LNG facility for actual market needs.

RAE will need to stage a public consultation procedure before the plan is finalized. DESFA hopes it will be ready and implemented by summer, giving companies enough time to assess the new rules for the LNG terminal before they make business plans for 2021.

Recent congestion problems at the Revythoussa LNG terminal left a number of companies without slots for 2020.

Slot reservation applications submitted by companies last year for 2020 represented a total capacity three to four times the size of Greece’s overall annual gas consumption.

Under the new rules, slot reservations are expected to be legally binding, committing applicants to all related costs.

Lawmakers behind the facility’s existing set of rules, shaped nearly a decade ago, viewed LNG as a supplementary fuel, but it has taken on a far more significant role in the Greek energy market over the past few years.

 

Italy’s Snam, Italgas face off in DEPA Infrastructure sale

Snam, Italy’s gas grid operator, and Italgas, the neighboring country’s biggest natural gas distribution company, have emerged as rivals, despite sharing common interests, in a Greek privatization offering a full stake in DEPA Infrastructure, a new entity formed by Greece’s gas utility DEPA.

The Snam group holds a 13.5 percent stake in Italgas. Also, the two companies have a common key shareholder, CDP Reti, holding a 28.98 percent stake in Snam and a 26.05 percent share of Italgas.

The showdown between Snam and Italgas could end up leaving both bidders out of the DEPA Infrastructure privatization, whose deadline for first-round expressions of interest expires today following a slight extension.

The participation of both players in the DEPA Infrastructure privatization would represent a violation of the sale’s terms, privatization fund TAIPED has already pointed out following a related query.

Fully aware of the situation, Snam has sought a solution. The Italian firm could form another consortium as it had done for the sale of Greek gas grid operator DESFA. Snam led a consortium, Senfluga, joined by Fluxys and Enagas, for the acquisition of a 66 percent stake of DESFA.

Two major US funds, KKR and Blackrock, as well as Australia’s Macquarie, are among the field of players tipped to submit expressions of interest today. Two other funds, both undisclosed, one from China, the other from the Middle East, could also participate. Additional entries have not been ruled out.

Strong turnout seen for DEPA Infrastructure sale tomorrow

A solid build-up to tomorrow’s first-round deadline for a tender offering a full stake in DEPA Infrastructure, a new entity formed by gas utility DEPA, has indicated at least ten European operators as well as funds from beyond the continent will submit expressions of interest.

Snam, Fluxys, Enagas, Italgas, two major US funds, KKR and Blackrock, as well as Australia’s Macquarie, are among the field of players tipped to turn up.

Two undisclosed funds, one from China, the other from the Middle East, are also believed to be among the prospective bidders.

Candidates see DEPA Infrastructure’s investment plan as an opportunity for prospective synergies. Budgeted at 400 million euros, it envisions the development of a series of pipeline projects and other infrastructure in the wider southeast European region over the next five years.

Snam, Fluxys and Enagas, who formed a consortium named Senfluga to acquire a 66 percent of Greek gas grid operator DESFA in 2018, are expected to move independently for the DEPA Infrastructure tender’s first round, fearing antitrust regulations, before regrouping later on.