FSU at Revythoussa LNG unit, Italy storage solution advances

An FSU has been licensed and installed at gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, boosting the facility’s overall capacity to 370,000 cubic meters.

The new floating storage unit’s installation at the Revythoussa terminal comes as part of the country’s energy security effort for protection should Russia disrupt its gas supply. In addition, it will also be used to serve the needs of neighboring countries.

Other steps are also being taken as part of the national energy security plan.

Greek and Italian officials have reached an advanced stage in talks for maintenance of Greek gas reserves at 1.14 TWh at an underground storage facility in the neighboring country. According to sources, the two sides are set to sign a related Memorandum of Cooperation.

The European Commission requires all EU member states without – or without sufficient – natural gas storage facilities, such as Greece, to store by November 1, gas quantities representing 15 percent of annual consumption at existing storage facilities maintained by fellow member states.

Electricity producers operating generators with dual combustion units (natural gas and diesel) are soon expected to take part in an energy ministry meeting to examine fuel-storage issues. This session could take place tomorrow.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TAIPED, Kavala UGS bidders call for greater user funding

Greece’s privatization fund TAIPED and the final-round bidders in a tender offering the development and operation of a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north have called for an increase of the project’s funding by energy network users to a degree of as much as 100 percent, from a level of 50 percent proposed by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

This call for the project’s greater funding percentage by energy network users was expressed by TAIPED and the sale’s two candidates – Energean and a partnership bringing together gas grid operator DESFA and construction company GEK Terna – during consultation staged by RAE.

The project’s increased funding percentage by energy network users would ensure its sustainability, while, on the contrary, the risk level would be high, the tender’s final-round qualifiers noted.

RAE’s consultation covered the UGS project’s pricing framework and DESFA’s ten-year development plan from 2022 to 2031.

 

Greece envisioned as gas supply solution in Europe, Balkans

Greece is seen as a natural gas supply solution by Balkan and European countries, a Regional Task Force meeting in Sofia, staged within the framework of the EU Energy Platform –  formed to help establish common natural gas and hydrogen markets – has made apparent.

The Sofia meetings agenda focused on the search of natural gas supply solutions given an anticipated demand increase in Europe, including the continent’s southeast, Mihalis Thomadakis, Director of Strategy and Management at gas grid operator DESFA, who participated in the Sofia meeting, has told an ensuing industry event, Athens Energy Dialogues.

He was a member of the Greek delegation in Sofia led by Nektaria Karakatsani, an energy ministry expert on energy policy matters.

Delegations representing Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Moldova also took part at the Regional Task Force meeting in Sofia.

Thomadakis, the DESFA official, underlined that gas network upgrades need to be developed as quickly as possible in order to meet new needs emerging.

Besides the EU Energy Platform, established in April as part of Europe’s plan for a swift end to its reliance on Russian natural gas, the European Commission, in collaboration with the International Energy Agency, has also formed the Technical Support Instrument, a project already involving seventeen EU member states, for the same purpose.

The TSI project is promoting energy source diversification and transmission, biomethane production, international hydrogen trade, roof-mounted solar energy installations, energy efficiency measures, swifter RES licensing procedures, innovative hydrogen solutions, as well as RES projects for the industrial sector.

 

Kavala UGS binding offers in July, pricing rules unchanged

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has left unchanged, following consultation, a pricing framework for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north, a step enabling the project’s binding-bids stage to go ahead, energypress sources have informed.

According to the tender’s latest schedule, included in a European Commission report published yesterday, binding bids will be submitted towards the end of July, while, in the lead-up, the two bidding teams, a consortium comprising gas grid operator DESFA and GEK TERNA, and rival bidder Energean, will be updated on the license’s details.

The tender is expected to be completed towards the end of October.

According to the project’s pricing framework, 50 percent of the UGS facility’s development cost, budgeted at 314 million euros, will be guaranteed through regulated earnings.

The project’s operator will need to retrieve the remainder either from the Greek State, on the grounds of strategic reserve maintenance, or from other users of the facility.

 

Northern pipeline’s environmental permit paves way for development

The energy ministry has approved environmental terms for gas grid operator DESFA’s natural gas pipeline project covering northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, a decision that paves the way for work to commence in autumn.

The project, budgeted at 110 million euros, promises to extend the national gas grid’s coverage, contribute to the country’s decarbonization plan and support the transition of the west Macedonian region, until now a lignite-dependent local economy.

The pipeline is planned to run from a location two kilometers east of Trikala to a point north of the provincial town Ptolemaida in the Kozani region, a 93.56-km distance.

The project, already fully certified to transport hydrogen, will offer a capacity of 388,000 Nm3/h.

The pipeline’s completion is scheduled for the first half of 2023.

 

 

 

Biomethane a priority for DESFA, pilot project in the making

Gas grid operator DESFA, placing biomethane interests among its priorities, intends to forward a related proposal to the energy ministry by the end of June as part of ongoing consultation for regulatory framework revisions that will enable the Greek market to incorporate biomethane as a new commercial activity.

DESFA, supported by consultants, is preparing a related study on amendments needed to existing laws – covering domains such as environmental and building matters – for the development of a biomethane market in Greece.

Biomethane could replace natural gas for the operation of a compressor station in Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area and another in Abelia, Thessaly, central Greece, now being developed.

Both locations are situated close to areas offering considerable waste quantities, which makes biomethane projects viable solutions that will significantly limit DESFA’s environmental footprint.

The biggest part of DESFA’s transmission network is relatively new and could, as is, or with minor revisions, host green gases, namely biomethane and hydrogen. New network sections now being developed would be ready to transmit green gases from the start.

DESFA is currently holding preliminary talks with market players for possible partnerships in a pilot biomethane project. However, the operator intends to finalize its biomethane business plan before deciding on any partnerships.

 

RAE decides on 12-month FSU rental for Revythoussa, 70% capacity boost

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided on a 12-month rental solution for an FSU installation at the country’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, a move planned to increase the facility’s capacity by 70 percent at an overall cost estimated at 20 million euros, energypress sources have informed.

The FSU, to serve as an addition to three existing storage units at the Revythoussa LNG terminal, is planned for July, the sources added.

RAE’s finalized decision enables gas grid operator DESFA, operating the LNG terminal, to stage a second round of binding bids for reservation of capacities. The procedure is expected to take place imminently, by mid-May. Four companies participated in the non-binding first round.

The FSU to be moored will offer a capacity of between 150,000 and 174,000 bcm, increasing the terminal’s current capacity of 225,000 m3 to at least 375,000 m3.

 

 

Four Revythoussa FSU offers made, 6-month lease for start

Four companies have expressed non-binding interest in a procedure seeking FSU offers, both through lease and sale arrangements, for gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

The Revythoussa plan entails adding an FSU with a capacity of between 150,000 and 174,000 m3 to the LNG terminal, which would increase the facility’s current 225,000 m3 capacity, provided by three existing onshore storage units, to at least 375,000 m3, an increase of approximately 70 percent.

Local authorities were satisfied with the level of interest expressed by participants in the first-round procedure, staged to gauge the market for FSU availability. The procedure was staged with guidance from international broker SSY Gas.

A six-month lease solution for an FSU is now considered certain as an initial plan as RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, keeps assessing market data to decide whether an FSU lease or purchase solution is best for Revythoussa over the longer term.

A follow-up tender inviting interested parties to submit binding bids will be staged as soon as RAE has reached its decision.

According to the plan’s schedule, a follow-up tender is planned for the first half of May. Officials aim to have an FSU moored at Revythoussa by the end of July.

 

Swift moves for Revythoussa capacity boost, FSU by July 30

Gas grid operator DESFA’s plan to boost the capacity of its LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, with the addition of a floating storage unit (FSU), is in full progress, the target date for its mooring being no later than July 30.

DESFA is now preparing to stage a related tender for this plan and, as a first step, is researching the international market to check on the availability of an FSU matching Revythoussa’s requirements, factors including the installation’s period, should a lease solution be chosen, and storage capacity.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is soon expected to decide on whether the FSU should be purchased or leased.

The authority is expected to hold a meeting today with DESFA officials to discuss the plan’s details.

DESFA has indicated it could lease an FSU for a period of between 12 to 18 months and, as part of this plan, would receive the vessel between May 1 and July 30.

The operator is moving fast as the European Commission has requested all EU natural gas storage facilities be filled to 80 percent of capacity by November 1. In addition, the danger of a Russian disruption of gas supply to Europe also requires swift action, as does the higher energy demand anticipated during the summer season.

 

Revythoussa LNG truck-loading station set for June launch

A prospective LNG truck-loading station at gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, is expected to be launched in June, enabling up to 4,300 loads per year, according to a latest update from the operator.

DESFA submitted its proposals for operating framework revisions, as well as a pricing formula, to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in December and is expecting these to be approved within the next few days.

Furthermore, the new LNG truck-loading station’s reservation platform is planned to begin operating next month, ahead of the station’s anticipated launch in June.

Due to LNG’s high concentration, the Revythoussa truck-loading station will enable specially equipped trucks to transport large quantities of the fuel along road routes, simulating natural gas pipelines for increased flexibility in gas supply.

Trucks loading LNG at Revythoussa will be transported to the islet by ferryboat. Routes to the islet will be offered from three different points around the wider Athens area, Elefsina, Perama and Almyra.

Revythoussa FSU purchase advantageous over rental

The purchase of a floating storage unit (FSU) for installation at the Revythoussa islet LNG terminal just off Athens, to boost the unit’s capacity for the country’s protection against a further supply crisis, is financially advantageous compared to a one-year rental of an equivalent floating storage system, officials at gas grid operator DESFA, operating the terminal, have determined following their analysis of a related cost-benefit analysis.

The analysis, forwarded for consultation by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, last Friday, compares the costs of purchase and rent solutions over a five-year period.

Taking into account depreciation over the five-year period, the purchase of an FSU works out to be 48.4 million euros cheaper than a rental solution, DESFA officials have calculated.

An FSU rental for one year would cost a net amount of 110.6 million euros, whereas a purchase would cost 172.8 million euros, ultimately beneficial over a five-year period, according to the DESFA officials.

A capacity boost at the Revythoussa LNG terminal is seen as crucial in the effort to protect the country’s energy supply security should Russia disrupt its natural gas supply to Europe.

If Moscow does decide to cut supply to the continent, Greece, it is estimated, will need to order an additional 50 or so LNG shipments over the next 12 months.

Revythoussa FSU 12-month rental or permanent solution

Greek authorities are making comparisons in preparation for a choice between an FSU one-year rental and a permanent floating storage unit at the Revythoussa LNG terminal as part of a plan to boost the country’s gas storage capacity ahead of next winter.

A decision for a capacity boost at the Revythoussa LNG terminal, with the addition of a fourth unit, has already been reached, highly ranked energy ministry officials have informed. A competitive procedure will be staged for the contract.

The option of renting an FSU for the Revythoussa LNG terminal, a facility operated by DESFA, the gas grid operator, would take approximately two months to complete, sources said.

This solution would make operations at the Revythoussa LNG terminal more flexible as it would enable unloading of two LNG orders simultaneously, instead of just one, as is the case at present.

A disruption of Russian gas supply to the EU would force all member states to try and secure additional LNG shipments.

The second alternative, entailing the installation of a permanent floating storage unit at the Revythoussa LNG terminal, would require more time to complete without offering any additional advantages, compared to the FSU rental, energy ministry officials noted.

Officials at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, are comparing market data such as domestic gas demand projections, and also considering Revythoussa’s prospects for a bigger role as a natural gas gateway for neighboring countries. Bulgaria and Romania are already using the Revythoussa terminal for LNG imports.

DESFA calls for doubled gas network capacity, PPPs

The country’s changing energy policy, especially following an EU decision aiming to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas, will require far greater gas transmission capabilities, inevitably prompting the need for a major network capacity boost, double the current capacity, with project participation from private-sector investors through public-private partnerships, DESFA, the gas grid operator, has informed RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The EU’s energy policy, steering Europe towards energy-source diversification, promises to establish Greece as a southeastern transit country handling far bigger quantities than at present.

Speaking at the recent energypress Power & Gas Fourum, Michalis Thomadakis, DESFA’s Director of Strategy and Development Division, noted: “Certain projects need to be developed so that we can fully utilize the new role the Greek gas transmission system is being called upon to adopt in the wider region. This can only be done with investments. It basically means that the system’s capacity needs to be doubled.”

A disruption of Russian natural gas supply to Europe would create a need for approximately 40 bcm to the Balkan region. Much of this quantity would pass through Greek territory.

New infrastructure promising to greatly increase Greece’s LNG importing capacity is already in the making. Projects include the Alexandroupoli FSRU in the country’s northeast, the Dioryga Gas FSRU planned for the Korinthos region west of Athens, as well as an additional storage tank at Greece’s only existing LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

Given these prospects, DESFA is currently looking to develop new pipelines and make network revisions that would facilitate greater quantities to other European markets.

 

 

Emergency steps taken for FSU at Revythoussa LNG terminal

The energy ministry appears to be pushing ahead with an emergency plan for swift installation of a floating storage unit (FSU) at the country’s only existing LNG terminal, on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, for increased LNG storage capacity ahead of next winter, sources have informed energypress.

Gas grid operator DESFA, the Revythoussa facility’s operator, has already researched the market for an appropriate vessel, which will need to be equipped with modern technology and recently built.

The FSU to be moored at Revythoussa will need to offer an LNG storage capacity of between 130,000 and 140,000 cubic meters to satisfy the Greek market’s needs, the sources noted.

Under normal conditions, procedures concerning this specific project would take over 12 months to complete and enable installation, but authorities are now moving fast as a result of the extreme impact Russia’s war on Ukraine has had on the energy market.

DESFA will present a cost-benefit analysis to the energy ministry by this Wednesday, according to sources.

 

 

 

War, energy crisis hastening plans for new LNG facilities

Russia’s war on Ukraine and the energy crisis are precipitating new natural gas and LNG supply solutions, a development that has increased the importance of related projects planned in Greece.

The EU’s decision to drastically reduce the continent’s reliance on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and terminate the dependence prior to 2030 has increased the importance of supply routes not linked to Moscow’s interests.

This development has increased the feasibility of new infrastructure promising to facilitate natural gas and LNG supply to Europe from alternative sources.

A major US-EU agreement established late last week for supply of an additional 15 bcm, at least, of American LNG to the continent this year, and gradual supply increases further ahead in time, has greatly boosted the prospects for related infrastructure.

The EU intends to follow up on this agreement by also establishing further supply deals with other producers, including Qatar and Egypt, in an effort to increase its LNG imports by a total of 50 bcm.

The EU’s new direction, focused on LNG imports, is seen as essential as the deterioration in relations between Europe and Moscow is expected to last many years.

Related projects in Greece promise to serve as LNG gateways for the country as well as southeast and central Europe, while also establishing Greece as a gas hub with an increased geostrategic role.

The Gastrade consortium recently decided to begin planning a second FSRU for Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, as an addition to a prospective first unit.

Petroleum group Motor Oil aims to begin development of its “Dioryga Gas” FSRU project, 1.5 km southwest of the company’s refinery in Korinthos, west of Athens, by the end of the year.

Gas grid operator DESFA is preparing to further upgrade its LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

Also, the Mediterranean Gas company is planning to develop an FSRU at Volos port, on the mainland’s east coast. RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has already issued a license for this project.

In addition, another investor, still undisclosed, is set to begin licensing procedures for yet another FSRU in Greece, sources have informed.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

South Kavala UGS tender’s final round not until early summer

The final round of privatization fund TAIPED’s tender for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north will not be held until early this summer following a latest deadline extension by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on consultation regarding the facility’s business pricing framework, sources closely following the project’s developments have informed energypress.

Prior to this deadline extension, the overall procedure was delayed by several months as a result of a disagreement between RAE and gas grid operator DESFA over supplementary investments that would enable the country’s grid to cater to the needs of the UGS.

Consultation for UGS pricing framework proposals and other details, including DESFA’s ten-year development plan, was to expire on March 14, but RAE has offered participants an extension until March 30.

It is believed RAE’s text forwarded for consultation has been deemed far from satisfactory by prospective investors. If no changes are made, the tender could fail to produce a result, despite its long duration.

Such a prospect threatens to leave Greece as Europe’s only country without a single UGS for many years to come.

Elsewhere, EU member states are rushing to fill their UGS facilities ahead of next winter, following an order issued by the European Commission as part of a plan to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.

The EU has a total of 170 UGS facilities, offering a total capacity of 4.2 trillion cubic metres. Germany tops the list with 60 facilities that represent 42 percent of the continent’s UGS capacity. France follows with 16 UGS facilities, Italy has 13 functional facilities and 7 under construction, while Romania has 8 UGS facilities and Bulgaria one.

 

 

Revythoussa LNG terminal to acquire fourth storage facility

Gas grid operator DESFA is preparing to upgrade its Revythoussa LNG terminal on the islet close to Athens by adding a fourth LNG storage unit at the facility as a means of further reinforcing the country’s energy system for greater energy-crisis protection.

According to sources, the operator has finalized its decision on the plan, to be developed as a floating storage unit (FSU), or permanently moored LNG tanker.

The FSU’s storage capacity is planned to exceed 100,000 cubic meters, almost half the Revythoussa facility’s current 225,000 cubic-meter capacity offered by three existing LNG storage tanks installed on the islet.

Besides bolstering the Greek energy system, the Revythoussa LNG terminal upgrade also promises to create supply opportunities for Balkan markets.

In the event of a disruption of Russian gas to the Balkans, the Revythoussa LNG terminal, as it stands, could cover basic energy needs of the Bulgarian market. The Revythoussa LNG terminal is already supplying Bulgaria.

The terminal was last upgraded in 2018 with the construction of a third LNG tank, a 148 million-euro investment that has enabled transmission of gasified LNG quantities amounting to five billion cubic meters annually.

 

Gastrade decides on additional Alexandroupoli FSRU by 2025

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

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

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

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

The Gastrade consortium is comprised of five partners, founding member Elmina Copelouzos of the Copelouzos group, Gaslog Cyprus Investments Ltd, DEPA Commercial, Bulgartransgaz, and DESFA, Greece’s gas grid operator, each holding 20 percent stakes.

All five partners have agreed to offer 2 percent each so that North Macedonia can enter the consortium with a 10 percent stake.

RAE to propose 50% consumer coverage of Kavala UGS cost

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will propose that consumer surcharges cover 50 percent of the total development cost of a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north, sources have informed.

The authority is expected to include the UGS project on the agenda of its board meeting tomorrow and may forward, for consultation, its pricing policy and project funding proposal on Friday.

According to the same sources, the RAE plan includes a 35 percent cost-coverage proposal for the UGS project through EU funds or other support mechanisms – the Kavala project is on the EU’s PCI list, enabling EU funding – and 15 percent coverage by the investor.

The energy ministry appears to agree with RAE’s proposal for consumers to cover 50 percent of the UGS project’s cost through surcharges.

The need for strategic gas reserves has been further highlighted by the current energy crisis.

A pending regulatory framework from RAE is expected to soon be finalized, which would enable privatization fund TAIPED to move ahead with its next steps in the UGS’s tender. The procedure has remained stagnant for months.

The tender’s two final-round qualifiers, GEK TERNA – DESFA (Greek gas grid operator) and Energean, still need to submit binding offers. Should no other obstacles arise, the two qualifiers are likely to have submitted their binding offers within the next three months.

Kavala UGS ‘pointless without €420m network investments’

Maria Rita Galli, CEO DESFA

Interview to Thodoris Panagoulis, Energypress.gr

  1. Ms. Galli, I sought this interview in light of the public statements that were made last week on the issue of the conditions for the creation of an underground gas storage facility in South Kavala. But before I ask you about this, tell me how the gas system responded to the recent big test due to the bad weather system “Elpis”.

Last week, the extremely unfavorable weather conditions caused a peak in gas demand, putting the gas network in extremely demanding operating conditions, very close to the system’s maximum capacity. From Monday 24th to Wednesday 26th, the daily gas demand reached a peak of 317 GWh, with historic record high hourly gas consumption of 17 GWh reached on Wednesday evening (26/1, 19.00-20.00). The gas demand was served by LNG from the Revithoussa Terminal and by pipeline gas from the northern entry points (Sidirokastro and TAP at N. Messimvria), with no flows from the Kipi entry point. In January, the LNG terminal received a record number of 8 cargoes unloading, of which one on last Monday in the middle of the snow storm. In these circumstances, DESFA’s personnel made a continuous and huge effort and, even throughout the snowstorm and abnormal cold spell, the successful uninterrupted operation of the System was ensured in its totality. And this, thanks to the reliability of our systems and the quality and dedication of our people.

  1. Let us now come to the controversial issue: The president of RAE stated, very harshly, that DESFA as TSO, presented to the Regulator a study with which he considers as necessary for the operation of UGS of N. Kavala, projects in the gas network of total worth of 1 billion Euros and that this cannot be done because the Greek consumer will be overburdened. Are these investments of accompanying projects of 1 billion euros really necessary to operate, when constructed, the UGS of Kavala?

Last week we read many declarations and comments – some of them quite inaccurate – close to a public debate, on the results of the study requested by the Regulator and performed by DESFA as TSO, on the investments needed in the natural gas network to ensure the operation of the planned South Kavala Underground Gas Storage. Even if this topic is very technical and based on complex analysis and simulations, carried out by DESFA and third-party experts and engineers, Ι will try to explain it as simply as possible and provide some factual information.

In September 2020, DESFA was requested by RAE, to elaborate a study – submitted in November 2020, more than one year ago – identifying the investments that would be necessary to accommodate all the requests for capacity access from the ongoing and planned projects, in accordance with state of the art technical and commercial solutions and applicable legal and regulatory framework. During our subsequent interactions with the Regulator, DESFA did not receive any negative comment or remark either on the constraints identified by the study or on the projects, which would be required for the removal of these constraints.

In March 2021, RAE requested DESFA, to carry out a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) for these investments, to assess which of them would be beneficial to be implemented as part of the NNGS development. Later, DESFA was requested to carry out an integrated CBA, which would include the Underground Gas Storage itself, as well as the investments in the NNGS which would be necessary exclusively for the operation of the UGS. Such network investments have been estimated in c.a. €420 million, an amount far below the alleged €1bn reported in the press. The CBA, conducted by a highly reputable independent international expert, was presented to the Ministry of Energy, RAE and HRADF in November 2021 and was submitted to RAE in January 2022, confirming that the benefits generated by the UGS, namely by the reduction of price volatility associated to seasonal demand and the security of supply – as quite evident from what has been happening in the EU market in the last months – largely exceeds the costs of the UGS project and the associated network enhancements.

  1. So you say that the required projects, based on the base-case scenario, are 420 million Euros. If these projects are not done, can the warehouse be operational? Does it make sense for an investor to enter the process if these projects are not done? It has also been expressed that no project is required…

To put it simply, the UGS in South Kavala, without these upgrades, cannot have access to the natural gas system, either as a whole or partially. Let me explain this further: currently the total maximum daily flow capacity of the Greek System amounts to c.a. 32 Mcm/day, with individual lower capacity caps on the East to West line from Kipi to Karperi and of the North to South line and vice versa. After the completion of the two compressor stations under construction (Kipoi & Ampelia), the total capacity of the system will reach 40 Mcm/d, with an increase primarily of the North – South capacity and vice versa. However, even after the addition of the new compressor stations, the capacity of the West-to-East branch of the system, which is constrained by the 24” diameter of the pipeline and is fully contracted to existing and ongoing entry and consumption points, will not allow to safely transport more gas in the specific branch. The UGS in South Kavala will be exactly on this branch.

The UGS – according to the information provided by HRADF – requires a system capacity upgrade in order for it to be able to serve all Entry and Exit points of the NGTS at an injection rate of gas into the storage of 7Mcm/d and a withdrawal rate of 9 Mcm/d, that is the amount of gas that in one day can be extracted from the storage to be used to serve the market. To comprehend the dimension, 9 Mcm/d equal approximately to the daily import of Russian natural gas from Bulgaria. It is important to understand that the access to the injection and withdrawal capacity of the storage needs to be guaranteed on a firm basis, otherwise its operation cannot be ensured, and no importer, trader or customer will have an interest to pay for such capacity and to store gas, without having the certainty of extracting such gas whenever needed and delivering it to the consumption points anywhere in the country. Assume you are a gas supplier, have booked and paid for the space in the storage, purchased the gas in summer, transported it and stored it in the storage, and when the winter cold spell comes and the prices are sky-rocketing, we tell you that you cannot take your gas and transport it when it is needed in the market…. In other words, without firm available capacity allocated to it, the UGS in South Kavala will have very limited value for the users and therefore the market as a whole. With no upgrade projects, there is no guaranteed access to the NNGS and vice versa.

  1. How are the projects that DESFA considers necessary for UGS related to the state of the rest of the gas transmission system, based on the role that natural gas now plays in the country’s energy balance, the quantities that are circulating and the new infrastructure that is being prepared?

The Greek natural gas market recorded a significant growth over the last seven years, with gas demand almost doubled from 2014 to 2021, reaching the historical high of 6.74 bcm in 2021, while further significant growth is expected, driven by new gas fired generation replacing lignite plants, new distribution areas and the role of Greece as an entry door of the wider Balkan and SEE Gas Market. Consequently, the peak daily gas flow is expected to reach c.a. 45Million cm/day in 2030, which exceeds the 40 Million cm/day of the NGTS, after the ongoing compressor stations enhancements.

To support such growth, many new import and export infrastructures have been planned to connect with the natural gas system, some completed, such as TAP, some under construction, as IGB and the Alexandroupolis FSRU, which took the FID few days ago, and the planned projects of the Dioriga Gas FSRU, the Greece-North Macedonia Interconnector, and the South Kavala Underground Gas Storage. These projects require the capacity of DESFA system to be enhanced to ensure that the associated gas imports can flow to the consumption points in the country and export points to neighboring nations. Enhancement projects are already ongoing as part of DESFA TYDP, which nevertheless are not sufficient to satisfy all the requests received. The existing and expansion capacity of the NGTS, resulting from the NGGS ongoing upgrade projects has already been fully contracted to the new import and export projects, as well as the new gas fired power plants under development. At the same time, two large scale projects that will drive Greece’s energy transition, the pipelines in West Macedonia and West Greece, are under way. The underground gas storage comes after these projects and requires new capacity, in order to operate properly, as described above.

  1. I would like you to comment on the fact that DESFA is on the one hand the Administrator of the national system (and also has the responsibility for its proper operation, security of supply, etc.), but also a shareholder of FSRU of Alexandroupolis, and a potential investor in YAFA Kavala. Are his proposals as an Operator influenced by his investment activities?

Not at all! As the Operator of the NNGS, we have very specific obligations for the integrity of the NNGS, but also the security of the supply of the country with natural gas. The performance of these obligations, under the control of RAE, derive from Greek and European legislation, but also directly affect the reputation of DESFA and its shareholders. The operational safety of the NNGS is our absolute goal, which, in all our years of operation, we have accomplished with adequacy and professionalism. In this capacity, we would never commit access to a new infrastructure for which we could not guarantee its safe operation in conjunction with the safe operation of the NNGS.

The assessment of which network enhancements would be needed to accommodate the operations of the storage came from the Regulator and have been delivered more than one year ago back in 2020. It is in the institutional role of the TSO to communicate to the market and the Regulator the necessary network developments, which are subject to public consultation. Eventually, one should be asking why this assessment was not requested before the launch of the South Kavala tender, but only after it was officially launched. We believe that any investors in the USG, and ultimately the Greek consumers, who are going to benefit or not from this investment, would require the assurance that the investments can operate before committing to it.

Therefore, indeed, also as potential bidder to the HRADF competition, we would like UGS in South Kavala to have unhindered access to the NNGS, in order to take the commitment to invest in the project.

I would like to emphasize that the role of DESFA. as the Operator of the National Natural Gas System is fully compatible with being a candidate investor in another natural gas infrastructure, which by the way will be fully regulated. This is a common feature of the European gas market, where the TSOs are also operators of the underground gas storages, as it is the case of our three TSO shareholders, Snam – which is the largest EU Gas storage operator, Enagas and Fluxys. Let us not forget that this is exactly what the Greek State demanded from the potential investors in DESFA privatization, that is to be operators of recognized prestige and experience, which could pass to DESFA their experience and know-how from more mature gas markets. What may be unprecedented in the Greek reality, i.e. an Operator being a potential investor in competitive tenders and private projects, is a regular case in the European energy scene. For example, all DESFA shareholders participate or are associated with companies involved in the management of underground storages and LNG infrastructure, in France, as well as in Germany, while in England and Portugal the respective Gas Transmission System Operators are also Operators of the respective electricity transmission systems.

Finally, our role as minority shareholder of the FSRU of Alexandroupolis, which we have concluded in December 2021, has no implications regarding our role as TSO, as well as potential participations in the USG Kavala. We have passed a very rigorous process of DG COMP, in order to enter the company and RAE has approved our entrance, recommending the unbundling between regulated and not regulated investments, which will be implemented in due time.

  1. Finally, I would like to ask you about the following: Do you have any comment on the “aggressive” tone during the recent public statement of the president of RAE. Prior to this placement, were you informed about RAE’s positions? Does the formal and institutional channel between the Regulator and the Administrator work?

It was something that no one from us expected and I cannot deny that we have been negatively surprised and disappointed, as our communication with RAE so far on this issue was absolutely smooth and cooperative, as well as with all the other issues in which we have a dialogue with RAE, which are currently quite a lot and very important for the energy market. It is noteworthy that inaccurate data were also given to the press, despite us having presented and explained the data in detail to RAE and had never received any indication that the Regulatory Authority had these kind of objections.

Let me say that it is not common practice, nor do we consider it correct, that the findings of a complex technical and economic study, are commented – with such negative statements – to the press before  any discussion with the Operator through the institutional channels of communication. In addition, some of the terms utilized wereparticularly offensive to DESFA, its employees and executives and we believe that it is not to anyone’s interest, and certainly not to DESFA’s, nor to the Regulator’s and the consumers’.

I would not wish to make an assessment of specific comments, but I would just like to highlight that a private company, such as DESFA, with its governance and shareholders with an international presence, will never engage in a useless large scale and long-term investment, no matter if regulated or not, as this would be finally detrimental to its economic interest and sustainable business model.

For our part, we remain, as always, open to engaging in a collaborative and constructive dialogue with market participants, institutions and the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and fully committed to continuing to perform successfully – with the highest know-how, skills and our commitment – the role of the gas transmission system operator for the benefit of consumers and the market.

Kavala UGS procedure delay, ministry guidance needed

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has reached a preliminary decision on a business pricing framework for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north, but more work is needed before a public consultation procedure can be launched.

According to energypress sources, this procedure will go ahead once the authority and energy ministry have fine-tuned RAE’s terms.

RAE is expected to forward its preliminary decision to the ministry by Monday for a response ahead of the authority’s next board meeting on Thursday, when the UGS pricing framework proposal is expected to be finalized ahead of public consultation, which should begin at the end of next week.

Privatization fund TAIPED has pressed for this pending, and significant, step to be taken so that the prospective facility’s ongoing privatization can enter its final round of binding bids.

A gas grid operator DESFA and GEK TERNA partnership, as well as Energean Oil & Gas, have advanced to the second round of the project’s tender, staged by TAIPED, offering contracts for the development and operation of the facility.

The lead-up has sparked controversy. A DESFA proposal for a parallel double pipeline running from Thrace, in the country’s northeast, to northern city Thessaloniki, so that the Kavala UGS could function, would cost consumers in Greece nearly one billion euros, more than double the operator’s estimate of 450 million euros, RAE president Thanassis Dagoumas has contended.

DESFA, in response, insists the Kavala UGS pipeline proposal would cost 420 million euros and is necessary as existing infrastructure is close to saturation point, especially in the north.  Upgrades are needed to facilitate new infrastructure that would establish the country as a gas hub, DESFA officials noted, describing its proposal as a necessary network upgrade.

Five hydrogen projects seeking inclusion on IPCEI list

Authorities at the energy and development ministries are working on approval procedures for five hydrogen-related projects involving as many companies – Damco (Copelouzos group), Snam, Energean, TAP and gas grid operator DESFA – all seeking their inclusion on the EU’s list of Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI).

Damco is interested in developing a low-carbon blue hydrogen production facility in Greece’s north. The project is planned to use natural gas for the production of hydrogen, while also capturing carbon emissions.

A Damco partnership with Italy’s Snam, involved in a number of hydrogen projects, is looking to develop three hydrogen producing facilities, in Athens, Thessaloniki and Alexandroupoli, as well as hydrogen reloading railway stations.

Energean plans to develop a blue hydrogen plant of virtually zero emissions at Prinos, using natural gas and combining carbon capture and storage technology. Energean has already being given recovery fund approval and funding for this project.

DESFA, the gas grid operator, wants to develop hydrogen transmission projects.

TAP is interested in developing projects linked to the major White Dragon project – involving the country’s biggest energy groups with gas company DEPA Commercial as head coordinator, for a hydrogen producing facility in northern Greece’s lignite-dependent west Macedonia region – with the intention of transporting and exporting hydrogen to European markets through interconnections.

Once the five hydrogen projects are approved domestically, their investors will need to prove the maturity of the projects, technically and financially, in accordance with IPCEI criteria.

 

RAE, disgruntled, staging consultation for Kavala UGS price regulations

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will discuss, at a board meeting on Thursday, business pricing regulations for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north, before offering a proposal for public consultation ahead of a finalized decision, the authority’s president Athanasios Dagoumas told a press conference yesterday, confirming a previous energypress report.

Privatization fund TAIPED has pressed for this pending, and significant, step to be taken so that the prospective facility’s ongoing privatization can enter its final round of binding bids.

A gas grid operator DESFA and GEK TERNA partnership, as well as Energean Oil & Gas, have advanced to the second round of the project’s tender, staged by TAIPED, offering contracts for the development and operation of the facility.

In his comments yesterday, the RAE chief, clearly annoyed, noted that the process, until now, has had to overcome obstacles. He was particularly critical of DESFA, alleging the operator forwarded an unacceptable proposal as the authority’s role is to “protect the people, not help operators maximize their profit.”

DESFA proposed the development of a parallel double pipeline running from Thrace, in the country’s northeast, to northern city Thessaloniki, so that the Kavala UGS could function, according to Dagoumas, who added this would cost consumers in Greece nearly one billion euros, more than double the operator’s estimate of 450 million euros.

“There’s no way this proposal would cost 450 million euros…must be joking. Consumers in Greece would need to cover one billion euros so that the operator can make a profit,” Dagoumas argued. “They ought to be ashamed of themselves, having consumers pay one billion euros for pipelines we don’t need. This is not a colony.”

Senfluga, the consortium representing Italy’s Snam (54%), Spain’s Enagas (18%), Belgium’s Fluxys (18%) and Coupelouzos Group’s DAMCO ENERGY SA (10%), controls DESFA with a 66 percent stake. The Greek State holds the other 34 percent.

DESFA, responding to energypress questions, offered a completely different picture, insisting its Kavala UGS pipeline proposal would cost 420 million euros and is necessary as existing infrastructure is close to saturation point, especially in the north. Upgrades are needed to facilitate new infrastructure that would establish the country as a gas hub, DESFA officials noted, describing its proposal as a necessary network upgrade.

 

 

Authorities on alert to counter snowstorm impact on country’s grid

The government and market operators are on high alert to counter, as effectively as possible, the impact on the grid of heavy snowfall around the country over the next few days.

Severe snowstorms last winter had led to network damages and outages over a number of days in a various parts of Greece, including the wider Athens area.

The government, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, power grid operator IPTO and gas grid operator DESFA are all on stand-by as the weather system, dubbed Elpida, moves in, bringing heavy snowfall.

The energy sector is well prepared to ensure energy sufficiency during the snowstorm’s anticipated rise in energy demand, authorities have noted.

Pipeline natural gas and LNG reserves at DESFA’s Revythoussa islet terminal just off Athens are sufficient to cover heightened demand during the adverse weather, officials have noted.

Total energy demand for today is forecast to reach 171,775 MWh, of which 58,825 MWh is expected to be provided by renewables, 94,606 MWh by natural gas-fueled power stations and 13,290 MWh by hydropower units.

Four lignite-fired power stations, Agios Dimitrios II, III IV and Meliti, are currently operating, while independent natural gas-fueled power stations operated by Heron, ENTHES, Thisvi, Protergia and Corinth Power are also generating for the grid.

DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, has announced a new hotline (800 400 4000) to which consumers can report any network damages.

 

RAE close to decision on Kavala UGS pricing regulations

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is preparing to decide on business pricing regulations for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north, a step that would pave the way for the second round of binding offers in an ongoing privatization offering contracts for the development and operation of the facility.

The facility’s pricing regulations are scheduled to be discussed at a RAE board meeting this Thursday, sources informed.

The authority may opt to not take a final decision on the pricing regulations during this session and instead announce a preceding public consultation procedure of brief duration, between one and two weeks, to take into account the resulting feedback and then decide on the pricing regulation details, the sources added.

A gas grid operator DESFA and GEK TERNA partnership, as well as Energean Oil & Gas have advanced to the second round of the project’s tender staged by privatization fund TAIPED.

According to a previous RAE decision, 50 percent of the project’s cost will be passed on to gas network users. As for the other 50 percent, 35 percent is expected to be covered through EU funding, assuming the project is included on the EU’s Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, while the remaining 15 percent will be taken on by the eventual investor.

Natural gas consumption hits record level in 2021, up 10.9%

Natural gas consumption in Greece reached an all-time high in 2021, increasing by 10.87 percent to 69.96 million MWh, up from 63.1 million MWh in 2020, according to annual data provided by DESFA, the country’s gas grid operator.

Natural gas-fueled power stations represented the greatest share of this consumption, using 68.65 percent in 2021, while household consumers and suppliers linked to the grid followed with 18.77 percent. Industrial enterprises directly linked with DESFA’s high-pressure supply system consumed 12.56 percent of the country’s total natural gas inflow.

Sidirokastro in Greece’s northeast remains the main natural gas entry point, while considerable natural gas quantities were also brought in from the new Nea Mesimvria entry point, in the north, which, since late 2020, has linked the country’s grid with the TAP pipeline running across northern Greece.

 

Small-scale LNG supply to detached locations now imminent in Greece

The arrival of small-scale LNG supply in Greece is now imminent following the completion in the  construction of an truck loading station at gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

Revythoussa’s LNG truck loading station, the first such installation in southeast Europe, represents an important step towards the introduction of small-scale LNG supply in Greece. A second step, the installation of an LNG jetty by DESFA at its Revythoussa facility, is planned to soon follow.

Once this project is completed, Greece will become Europe’s latest country possessing truck-loading facilities, enabling LNG supply from Revythoussa to non-interconnected facilities around the country.

This prospect will offer greater energy supply flexibility to Greek industries, small-scale producers and farms in remote areas detached from the country’s natural gas grid.

 

DESFA market test for North Macedonia gas pipeline link in March

A DESFA gas grid operator market test for a gas pipeline project to link the Greek and North Macedonian systems is set to begin following the launch, by the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE), of a related public consultation procedure, ending February 7, the authority has announced.

The project’s market test will follow and is expected to be launched by March, the latest.

Towards the end of 2021, DESFA signed a 25 million-euro loan agreement with the European Investment Bank for the project’s Greek segment. This loan had been approved by the EIB more than a year earlier, in August, 2020.

At the time its approval was announced, EIB noted the project promises to further optimize Greece’s gas grid and also promote supply security and competition in the neighboring country through gas source and route diversification.

The project’s Greek segment, budgeted at 67 million euros, is planned to run from Nea Mesimvria, on the western outskirts of Thessaloniki, to the Evzoni area on the northern border.

Late in December, the EIB also approved a 28.9 million-euro loan agreement for the project’s North Macedonian segment. An agreement for this loan is expected to be signed within the next few weeks.

The EIB has also extended a 12.4 million-euro loan to North Macedonia from the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) for technical support and development of the project.

The gas pipeline, whose overall cost is estimated at 110 million euros, is planned to cover a total of 123 kilometers.