DESFA considering 2 options for gas transportation to Epirus

Gas grid operator DESFA is examining two alternative solutions for the transportation of natural gas to Greece’s northwestern region of Epirus, one of the company’s most important projects of its ten-year development plan covering 2022 to 2031, still not finalized.

One option being considered by DESFA is an extension of a gas pipeline in west Macedonia, northern Greece, from Ptolemaida all the way to Ioannina, the Epirus prefecture’s capital.

The other solution being considered entails the development of an LNG terminal at Igoumenitsa port, from where a 50-km gas pipeline would be constructed into the Epirus region.

The options will undergo public consultation for comments and observations by market players before RAE, in conjunction with DESFA, decides which of the two will be implemented.

DESFA aims to finalize its ten-year development plan covering 2022 to 2031 within the summer before delivering it to RAE in September.

Operators react against RAE’s net profit deduction proposal

Market operators have disapproved a proposal by RAE, the Regulatory Authority of Energy, to deduct a percentage of their net profit from non-regulated activities, contending this would act as a growth disincentive.

Gas grid operator DESFA’s chief executive Maria Rita Galli expressed the company’s concerns earlier this week, during a press conference, following preceding disapproval by power grid operator IPTO just hours earlier in public consultation focused on a formula for the calculation of permitted and required ESMIE (electricity transmission system) revenue.

The DESFA chief executive told reporters the operator is currently in talks with RAE for an agreement that would satisfy both sides.

Deducting a percentage of net profit from operators represents an older approach that has generally been abandoned today, Galli pointed out. Subjecting DESFA to such a deduction would put the operator in a disadvantageous position compared to other companies.

RAE has informed this disputed deduction would be used for the benefit of electricity transmission system users.

IPTO has proposed that the authority’s deduction be limited to outlays made for non-regulated services.

Energy exchange gas platform to be presented Monday

The energy exchange is nearing an expansion through the addition of a new trading platform for natural gas market products, scheduled to be presented by the Hellenic Energy Exchange and gas grid operator DESFA this coming Monday.

Related public consultation, already in progress, is planned to run until the end of August.

Until now, the Greek energy exchange has only facilitated electricity market trade.

The energy exchange, in association with DESFA, has been working on the new gas market platform since last year, the aim being to launch it within 2021.

The exchange’s new gas platform is expected to help establish Greece as a trading hub of geostrategic and geopolitical significance.

EDA THESS and DESFA: Ambitious cooperation with a lot of perspectives

The fruitful cooperation between the National Transmission System Operator and the Distribution Company was the main topic raised in the meeting held at the Company’s premises between the CEO of DESFA, Mrs Maria Rita Galli and the General Manager of EDA THESS, Mr. Leonidas Bakouras.

During the meeting, Mr. Bakouras had the opportunity to stress one of the main strategic pillars of the company that is to ensure the safe and uninterrupted distribution of natural gas.

The CEO of DESFA and the General Manager of EDA THESS discussed about the issues that concern the operation and maintenance of transmission and distribution networks.

The focal point of the meeting was the emerging opportunities and perspectives for further collaboration between the two operators. The great potential to enable the integration of renewable gases such us biomethane blending with natural gas was highlighted. The ultimate goal to ensure security of supply was shared, with the aim of continuously improving the services provided to the users and end consumers.

Moreover, the need for further cooperation in the conduction of preparedness drills, was discussed, by combining scenarios with high level escalation of events that could lead in general crisis in the network. The aim is to enhance the safety-oriented effectiveness of the response mechanism for the involved structures of the two operators and to promote the coordination with the Authorities and co-competent bodies.

Concluding, promoting the sustainability of natural gas networks in alignment with the targets set by the energy roadmap 2030- 50 is a common view.

(photo: The CEO of DESFA, Mrs. Maria Rita Galli with the General Manager of EDA THESS Mr. Leonidas Bakouras) 

 

 

DESFA pipeline agreement with North Macedonia’s MER in July

Gas grid operator DESFA expects ongoing negotiations with North Macedonia’s energy sources company MER, for a cooperation agreement concerning the construction of a natural gas pipeline linking the two countries, will be successfully completed in July, enabling the staging of a market test for the project, whose Greek segment will run north from Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area.

DESFA plans to stage a market test for the pipeline in early autumn, assuming its cooperation agreement with MER is signed in July.

The cooperation agreement will commit both sides to the project’s construction, serving as a road map for its development and also specifying responsibilities to be taken on by DESFA and MER.

RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, has set conditions, demanding a market test, and its successful outcome, in order to give the green light for construction of the Greek segment.

Apart from the cooperation agreement to be signed between DESFA and MER, the governments of Greece and North Macedonia plan to sign a corresponding bilateral agreement concerning the interconnection of the two countries through the project.

The details of this bilateral agreement are just about ready and have already been submitted to the European Commission for approval, Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas told a recent conference.

Brussels’ approval is needed for North Macedonia to qualify for Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) support funds for its segment of the gas pipeline.

The Greek segment, budgeted at 51.4 million euros, will cover a 57-km distance.

DESFA participating in talks for European Hydrogen Backbone

Greek gas grid operator DESFA is one of the participants in early talks for the establishment of a European Hydrogen Backbone, along with 22 fellow operators representing a total of 21 countries.

A latest report, published last month, notes that this network of pipelines can cover a total of 11,600 kilometers by 2030, to service emerging hydrogen markets, and 39,700 kilometers by 2040, with prospects for further expansion beyond this date.

Total investments estimated between 43 and 81 billion euros will be needed to develop the 39,700 kilometers of the hydrogen network pipelines.

Upgrades of existing pipeline networks, to enable the transportation of hydrogen, will account for 69 percent of the investment cost, while the other 31 percent concerns the development of new pipelines.

According to the plan, Greece’s two main industrial hubs, Athens and Thessaloniki, will be linked, by 2040, to the new hydrogen pipelines, to run alongside existing gas infrastructure. Alternatively, an upgrade of the existing gas pipelines, also seen as an option, will depend on market conditions.

DESFA’s Alexandroupoli FSRU entry on Vestager agenda

The European Commission’s pending approval of gas grid operator DESFA’s acquisition of a 20 percent stake in Gastrade, the company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal planned for Greece’s northeast, is expected to be on the agenda of an Athens meeting this Thursday between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition.

The Greek government considers the Alexandroupoli FSRU to be a pivotal energy supply source for Greece and the EU.

Gastrade’s other participants are awaiting Brussels’ approval of the DESFA entry so that they can go ahead with an investment decision and commence its development.

European Commission approval of DESFA’s participation in the Alexandroupoli FSRU is necessary as the company is the operator of Greece’s gas grid and, by acquiring a 20 percent of Gastrade, would also gain entry into an independent gas system.

The DG Comp’s endorsement of the DESFA entry is seen as a formality following Brussels’ recent approval of the entry of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz as a fourth member of the Gastrade consortium, also with a 20 percent stake.

Greek enterprises face April 27 date for hydrogen project proposals

Leading Greek energy players are gearing up to participate in a European Commission effort concerning the development of the continent’s first major investments in eco-friendly hydrogen production, a key aspect in Brussels’ decarbonization drive.

Interested parties face an April 27 deadline to submit proposals concerning a number of categories, including PCI-supported sustainable low-emission hydrogen production, the emphasis placed on RES-generated hydrogen.

The White Dragon project, as it has been dubbed, has brought Greece’s biggest industrial corporations closer, as they prepare to jointly bid for project categories Brussels will subsidize in the context of the Hydrogen Europe program.

The White Dragon project provides for investments of 2.5 billion euros in electrolytic hydrogen production by means of solar energy from photovoltaic parks with a capacity of 1.5 GW. They are planned for northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, a lignite-dependent economy.

Gas utility DEPA, gas grid operator DESFA, petroleum group Motor Oil, the Mytilineos group, Terna, Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, Polish company Solaris, as well as the Demokritos National Center for Scientific Research and the Center for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH) are taking part.

The hydrogen to be produced will be used for district heating, fuel to be exported via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, and as fuel for large vehicles such as lorries and buses.

 

DEPA Commercial pushing to mature RES licenses in time for auction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motor Oil ‘Dioryga Gas’ FSRU on DESFA 10-yr plan, set to roll

Approval by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, of gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year grid development plan, covering 2021 to 2030, with the inclusion of petroleum group Motor Oil’s “Dioryga Gas” FSRU project, 1.5 km southwest of the company’s refinery in Korinthos, west of Athens, paves the way for this unit’s actualization.

Motor Oil anticipates the FSRU, promising to offer yet another natural gas entry point to the domestic system, can be launched by the end of 2023.

To accept LNG via sea routes, the floating storage regasification unit’s capacity is estimated at 2-3 bcm per year.

The “Dioryga Gas” FSRU project was incorporated into DESFA’s ten-year development plan following amendments to a preliminary plan, made once an agreement had been reached between the gas grid operator and Motor Oil.

This agreement ended a dispute between the two sides over the project’s absence from the operator’s ten-year plan. Motor Oil protested against the FSRU’s exclusion, expressing its disapproval to DESFA as well as RAE.

The project’s inclusion on DESFA’s ten-year plan will enable Motor Oil to take investment decisions needed for its development.

The petroleum group is currently also examining the regulatory and commercial frameworks concerning the project with the aim of offering optimal services to users. Motor Oil intends to stage a market test in 2021.

The “Dioryga Gas” FSRU project will ease the saturation pressure on Greece’s other FSRU, on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, reinforce gas supply to the Greek market as the country’s LNG storage capacity will increase by 80 percent, and also facilitate further penetration of natural gas in remote parts of the country.

EastMed alliance broadens, eight countries express support

Support for the EastMed pipeline, planned to transport natural gas from offshore Levantine Basin gas reserves in the southeast Mediterranean to Greece and further into Europe, is growing in numbers with an initial Greek-Israeli-Cypriot alliance promoting this project now joined by five additional partners, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Serbia and North Macedonia.

Energy ministers representing these eight countries forwarded a letter of support for the EastMed project to the European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson late last week, Greece’s energy and environment minister Kostas Skrekas has told local media.

The pipeline, to be developed by IGI Poseidon SA, a 50-50% joint venture between Greek gas utility DEPA and Italian gas utility Edison, is planned to cover a 1,470-km distance.

IGI Poseidon plans to develop EastMed all the way to Italy via Cyprus, Crete, the Peloponnese, mainland Greece and Epirus, the country’s northwestern flank.

This latest move, bringing the eight energy ministers together for the joint letter, was initiated by Skrekas, Greece’s energy minister, sources informed, following an initiative taken two months earlier by his Israeli counterpart Yuval Steinitz to organize a joint virtual conference involving ministers of all eight countries.

In their letter to Simson, the EU energy commissioner, the eight ministers highlight the importance of EastMed, noting the project promises to contribute to the wider region’s energy security and offer benefits to consumers as a result of increased competition and reduced natural gas price levels.

Regional gas interconnections, including the Greek-Bulgarian IGB, Bulgarian-Serbian IBS, Bulgarian-Romanian IBR and the Romanian-Hungarian IRH would be utilized to extend EastMed’s reach, the letter notes.

Greece and North Macedonia are currently planning a new gas pipeline interconnection whose Greek segment is being promoted by gas grid operator DESFA.

DESFA 2021-30 plan endorsed, west Macedonia, Patras pipelines included

Gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan for 2021 to 2030, featuring projects budgeted at over 500 million euros in total, including pipelines in the country’s west Macedonia and Patras regions, has been approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Speaking at the 2nd Power & Supply Forum, on online event staged earlier this week by energypress, DESFA’s chief executive Maria Rita Galli pointed out that this amount is double that of the previous plan and includes 54 projects through which the company will strive to contribute to strengthening Greece’s role as a regional energy hub.

The west Macedonia pipeline, a new entry to the ten-year plan, is budgeted at 110 million euros and planned to cover a 130 km distance in northern Greece.

Despite not being included in the national recovery plan for subsidy support, DESFA is prepared to develop this project with company reserves and loans.

Even if developed without subsidy support, the eventual cost of the west Macedonia pipeline for gas consumers will be spread out into limited amounts if gas demand in the region is high, as is anticipated.

Power utility PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis, another energypress forum participant, informed that the company’s prospective Ptolemaida V lignite-fired power station will have converted to natural gas by 2025.

The conversion promises to boost the facility’s capacity, which will increase its consumption and add to the west Macedonia gas pipeline’s feasibility.

The gas pipeline planned for Patras, budgeted at 85 million euros, will cover a distance of approximately 140 km, from Megalopoli, in the central Peloponnese, to the western city’s industrial zone. Patras’ industrial sector is expected to ensure strong demand for natural gas.

The Patras project could, in the future, be extended to reach other cities on Greece’s west side, such as Pyrgos, western Peloponnese, and Agrinio, in the northwest.

 

Desfa-Gek Terna, Energean to S. Kavala UGS tender 2nd rnd

DESFA-GEK TERNA and Energean Oil & Gas have advanced to the second-round, binding-offers stage of 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”, while China’s CMEC-MAISON GROUP failed to qualify, privatization fund TAIPED has announced in a statement.

Following the signing of confidentiality agreements, the two qualifiers will be granted access to the tender’s virtual data room, where financial and technical data will be uploaded for due diligence procedures.

However, much work lies ahead before this project matures to enable the submission of binding offers. A number of regulatory issues remain pending, officials monitoring developments have informed, describing the project as complex and highly technical.

Pending issues include determining the percentage of the UGS’s capacity to be regulated for pre-determined earnings, and the percentage of capacity whose earnings will be shaped by market forces. The regulatory period and WACC level also need to be decided and set.

Given these tasks, as well as obstacles raised by the pandemic, binding offers are not expected to be submitted any sooner than late-2021. The final stage of this tender appears most likely to take place early in 2022.

Ministry seeks recovery fund aid for west Macedonia gas pipeline

Development of a high-pressure gas pipeline in west Macedonia, in the country’s north, which would enable the country’s gas grid to be extended to the area, is among the energy ministry’s proposals for EU recovery fund inclusion.

Though still too early to tell if this project will become eligible for financial support through this fund, it should be pointed out that the European Commission is generally hesitant about backing natural gas-related projects.

The project’s inclusion, or not, in a national recovery and resilience plan being prepared by a special energy-ministry committee, currently filtering proposals by this ministry and other ministries, stands as a crucial test that could determine whether the west Macedonia gas pipeline project will become eligible for EU recovery fund support.

A national plan’s finalized list is expected within the next few days before it is forwarded, by early April, to the European Commission, whose approval will be needed.

The energy ministry is also seeking 300 million euros through the recovery fund for the redevelopment of the power utility PPC’s mining areas in west Macedonia, a lignite-dependent economy.

Regardless of whether the west Macedonia high-pressure gas pipeline plan will qualify for EU recovery fund support, gas grid operator DESFA appears determined to move ahead with the project, budgeted at 110 million euros and constituting part of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

The new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) could serve as an alternative financing source, while DESFA will also consider company cash reserves and a bank loan if necessary.

 

DESFA’s Alexandroupoli FSRU entry awaiting DG Comp OK

Gas grid operator DESFA’s agreement, last November, for the acquisition of a 20 percent stake in Gastrade, the company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal planned for Greece’s northeast, requires, as its final step, approval from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, to officially make the operator the consortium’s fifth member.

DG Comp approval of DESFA’s agreement is needed as the operator, managing Greece’s gas transmission system, is entering an independent gas system through its agreement to buy a Gastrade stake.

The DG Comp’s endorsement of the anticipated DESFA entry is seen as a formality following its recent approval of the entry of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz as a fourth member of the consortium, also with a 20 percent stake.

A finalized investment decision by Gastrade for the development of the Alexandroupoli FSRU is expected this spring. The unit’s launch is scheduled for the first half of 2023.

The FID will enable the procurement procedure for the project’s equipment to go ahead, beginning with the floating unit, for which a Gastrade tender has already been completed.

A preferred bidder has also been declared for the FSRU’s subsea-and-overland pipeline, to link the floating unit with the country’s gas grid.

Bids for a tender offering a contract for the design, procurement and construction of the project’s fixed mooring system were submitted in late-February.

Talks are still in progress, at a diplomatic level, for the possible entry into the Alexandroupoli FSRU by North Macedonia’s state gas company, through the acquisition of a 10 percent stake from Gastrade. The outcome of these talks will not affect the project’s development.

DESFA to push ahead with west Macedonia gas pipeline

Gas grid operator DESFA is determined to push ahead with the development of a natural gas pipeline in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, a project budgeted at 110 million euros, either with financial support from the EU’s current National Strategic Reference Framework or other financing solutions, including bank loans, if the project is ultimately excluded from EU recovery fund support.

Though a finalized decision on the list of projects to receive EU recovery fund support has not been reached, DESFA, according to energypress sources, will proceed with this pipeline project, part of the operator’s ten-year development plan for 2021 to 2030, totaling 545.5 million euros.

In examining its financing options for this gas pipeline project, DESFA will take decisions based on containing network usage fees to be paid by consumers.

The European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB) no longer finance conventional gas-based infrastructure projects, unless eco-friendly hydrogen is incorporated into their plans. Even so, the west Macedonia gas pipeline has been included in the recovery fund catalogue as the project is linked to the post-lignite era.

Possessing a clearly developmental role with multiple benefits for the wider region, the pipeline represents part of the energy transition plan for west Macedonia, a lignite-dependent local economy, as it will help replace lignite-based energy, contribute to growth, and support the region’s industry.

The pipeline, to stretch 130 km, could be swiftly licensed, DESFA officials believe, as long as its financing plan is settled and municipal and regional authorities acknowledge the region’s gas penetration need. The pipeline’s delivery was forecast for within 2023 before questions concerning the project’s financing emerged.

Man Energy Solutions to support Terna for LNG truck-loading station

German company Man Energy Solutions has signed an agreement with construction company Terna to help with the development of a truck-loading station at gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

Man Energy Solutions will take on the task of fully constructing infrastructure needed for the management of LNG supply, through trucks, to customers.

Commenting on the agreement, Thanassis Papaioannou, head of Man Energy Solutions’ Department of Machines and Electricity Units in Greece, noted: “We are very pleased to bring our knowhow in the LNG domain to [the] DESFA [terminal], joining forces with TERNA, one of the leading construction companies in the country. The actualization of this project will create new growth opportunities in areas where natural gas networks do not exist – that is, access to gas.”

Just days ago, it was also announced that DESFA has reached a finalized investment decision on the development of a small-scale LNG jetty at the Revythoussa terminal, as an addition to the facility’s LNG truck-loading station, contributing, amongst other things, to the emergence of LNG bunkering at the nearby Piraeus port.

DESFA focusing on gas pipeline for west Macedonia network

Gas grid operator DESFA and energy ministry officials are currently discussing financing options that could be sought for the operator’s plan to develop a gas pipeline needed to facilitate a gas network expansion in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, energypress sources have informed.

DESFA is awaiting approval by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for its ten-year development plan, worth more than 545 million euros, including the gas pipeline project.

The talks between DESFA and the energy ministry officials are focused on public funding possibilities, primarily European, to cover part of the cost of the gas pipeline, which would ultimately help contain the level of network usage tariffs to be covered by consumers.

Local officials anticipate this network expansion plan should qualify for EU development fund support, even though EU policy generally does not favor gas projects, as it clearly represents a development project that promises multiple regional benefits, including replacement of lignite-based energy, on the way out as a result of the country’s decarbonization strategy.

Besides the EU recovery fund, officials in Greece are also considering the prospects of financial support from the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework or a number of regional development programs.

The gas network expansion plan in the country’s west Macedonia region will require the development of a 130-km gas pipeline from Trikala, in the mainland’s mid-north, a project budgeted at 110 million euros.

According to sources, DESFA has revised an original pipeline route plan, bringing the pipeline closer to cities where medium and low-pressure networks for households and businesses are to be developed by gas distributor DEDA.

DESFA to develop small-scale LNG jetty at terminal by late ‘22

Gas grid operator DESFA has reached a finalized investment decision to develop a new small-scale LNG jetty at its LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, paving the way for the establishment of a small-scale LNG supply chain in Greece.

This new infrastructure, to be developed at the northeastern flank of the islet, will come as an addition to the facility’s LNG truck loading station, contributing, amongst other things, to the emergence of LNG bunkering at the nearby Piraeus port.

The new small-scale LNG jetty, budgeted at 20.4 million euros, is planned to begin operating in autumn, 2022, according to the gas grid operator’s ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030.

DESFA has applied for subsidized financing support through the National Strategic Reference Framework (2014-2020), which would cover 50.42 percent of the project’s cost. The operator will either use cash reserves or take out a loan for the remainder of the project’s cost.

LNG bunkering at Piraeus port will begin with supply to small-size gas-fueled vessels.

South Kavala UGS qualifiers in March, plenty of work needed

Privatization fund TAIPED is expected to have completed its appraisal of first-round bids in a tender offering development and operation of an underground gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece next month, possibly within the first half of March, energypress sources have informed.

The fund, at that point, will be ready to announce its list of second-round qualifiers.

TAIPED and the government are taking cautious steps for this project, regarded as complex, especially on matters concerning the tender’s binding-offers stage, sources informed.

Three bidding teams have submitted non-binding expressions of interest for the first round. These are: China Machinery Engineering Co. Ltd. (CMEC) – Maison Group; DESFA – GEK Terna; and Energean Oil & Gas (in alphabetical order).

Much work appears to still lie ahead for this privatization, whose completion is not expected any sooner than next autumn, sources noted.

Pending matters include the delivery of a finalized operating framework for the South Kavala UGS by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

This framework will determine the pricing system for the UGS, or the proportion of the facility’s earnings to be regulated and the proportion to be shaped through competitive procedures.

Besides RAE’s operating framework, bidders will also need to conduct due diligence before submitting second-round offers.

 

 

Alexandroupoli FSRU 2Q investment decision, work to start in ’21

The shareholders of Gastrade, a company founded by the Copelouzos Group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU planned for Greece’s northeast, are gearing up for an investment decision, expected in the second quarter, ahead of the beginning of the project’s development, anticipated within the current year.

Gastrade’s shareholders will most likely make an investment decision in May, sources informed.

The consortium’s shareholders are currently awaiting final administrative details that will formalize the entry into Gastrade of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz and DESFA, the Greek gas grid operator.

Last week, Thanassis Dagoumas, the head official at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, approved the transfer of a 20 percent Gastrade stake from the Copelouzos Group’s Asimina Eleni Copelouzou to the Bulgarian gas company.

Copelouzou now controls 40 percent of Gastrade, with three stakeholders, Gaslog, DEPA Commercial and Bulgartransgaz each holding 20 percent.

Within the next few weeks, the RAE chief is also expected to endorse a further 20 percent transfer from Copelouzou to DESFA, giving the consortium’s five partners equal shares of 20 percent each.

Gastrade has already announced a tender offering an EPC contract for the floating LNG terminal in Alexandroupoli. Participants face a February 18 deadline.

An investment decision promises to push forth engineering studies, including geotechnical, as well as the order of a floating vessel for the project during the year. The FSRU will be completed in 2023, Gastrade shareholders have announced.

The shareholders appear receptive to the idea of North Macedonian involvement in the Gastrade consortium. They are awaiting bilateral developments at a diplomatic level, sources informed.

North Macedonia pipeline market test by September

Gas grid operator DESFA has begun preparations with the energy ministry to stage a market test by September for the Greek segment of a gas pipeline interconnector to run to North Macedonia.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, requested a market test, to ensure sufficient capacity reservation by users, for the project when it endorsed DESFA’s development plan covering 2017 to 2026.

North Macedonian authorities are also working on preparations for the project’s development. Just days ago, the country’s transport and communications minister Blagoj Bocvarski noted that all will be ready by the end of 2021 for the announcement of a tender concerning the construction of the project’s North Macedonian segment.

All licensing requirements will have been resolved earlier, by the middle of this year, Bocvarski added.

DESFA and its North Macedonian counterpart MER signed a Memorandum of Understanding in October, 2016 for the pipeline project.

Its Greek segment, budgeted at 51.4 million euros, will cover a 57-km distance, beginning from Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area.

The pipeline will be linked to Greece’s prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU in the northeast. North Macedonia currently fully depends on Russian gas supply through a Balkan pipeline.

DEPA calls for RAE to prioritize Kipoi, Abelia compressor stations

Gas utility DEPA has underlined the gas-supply security importance of two prospective compressor stations in Kipoi, northeastern Greece, and Abelia, in the mid-north, urging RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to prioritize their development.

The two projects, on a RAE list of infrastructure projects for preventive action, are expected to significantly improve energy supply security in Greece over the mid and long-term by facilitating the transportation process of natural gas.

DEPA stressed the importance of the two compressor stations in a letter forwarded to RAE’s public consultation procedure on its preventive action plan.

The two compressor stations are vital for grid-connection and gas-flow purposes concerning the prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU and an underground gas storage facility (UGS) planned for development at an almost depleted offshore natural gas field in South Kavala, DEPA pointed out in its letter.

Also, the Abelia compressor station is needed to ensure hydraulic gas-flow sufficiency from north to south, via the TAP project, DEPA noted.

Both compressor station projects feature in gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030.

South Kavala UGS tender qualifiers by early February

Greece’s privatization fund TAIPED will finalize its list of second-round qualifiers in a tender offering development and operation of an underground gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece by late January or early February, sources have informed.

Three parties submitted first-round expressions of interest: China Machinery Engineering Co. Ltd. (CMEC) – Maison Group; DESFA – GEK Terna; and Energean Oil & Gas (in alphabetical order).

Assessments of their supporting documents and other criteria are expected to be completed within the next twenty days.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, still needs to deliver decisions concerning the operating framework of the UGS.

These pending issues include a RAE decision on the percentage of the UGS project’s capacity to be regulated, thus pre-determining this proportion’s revenue, and the earnings percentage to be determined by market forces.

The authority also needs to decide on the duration of the regulatory period and its WACC level.

North Macedonia involvement in key Alexandroupoli projects

North Macedonia plans to help cover its energy needs through an involvement in two Greek-based projects, the prospective FSRU in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, and, in the same region, a gas-fueled power station to run on LNG stemming from the floating LNG terminal.

Much progress has been made on the neighboring country’s interest in these two projects since a meeting in Athens last September between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his North Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev. The partnership also represents a strategic decision for the Greek government.

It is considered certain that a state-owned North Macedonian company will soon enter the Alexandroupoli FSRU project’s equity pool with a 10 percent stake, energypress sources have informed.

This project’s five current partners – Copelouzos group, Gaslog, Greek gas utility DEPA, Greek gas grid operator DESFA and Bulgartransgaz – are expected to each offer small portions of their respective 20 percent stakes to make available a 10 percent stake for the state-owned North Macedonian company in the Alexandroupoli FSRU.

The project’s development is not expected to be impacted by any equity reshuffles.

Two international tenders staged by Gastrade, a company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, have been successfully completed. One of the two tender concerns the FSRU’s construction. The other concerns the installation of pipelines linking this facility to the national gas grid.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU consortium is expected to make a final investment decision in late February, sources informed.

On the other front, ESM, North Macedonia’s state electricity company, is expected to acquire a 25 percent stake in a gas-fueled power station to be developed by Damco Energy, a Copelouzos group subsidiary, in Alexandroupoli’s industrial zone.

The initiative will secure 200 MW of the facility’s 800-MW capacity for North Macedonia. The country currently has an electricity deficit of approximately 2 GWh.

Bulgarian state-owned electricity company NEK EAD also appears interested in acquiring a stake in the Alexandroupoli power station. Bulgaria has projected an electricity deficit a few years from now as the country must phase out major lignite-fired power stations. European Commission exemptions extending the lifespans of these units are expiring.

Gas market competition intensifies, TAP lowering prices

Competition has intensified in the country’s wholesale gas market at a time of changing conditions and negotiations for 2021 deals between importers and major-scale consumers, namely electricity producers and industrial enterprises.

Many gas supply contracts expired at the end of 2020, requiring a large number of players to renegotiate deals. Some of these big consumers have already reached new agreements with gas wholesalers.

Market conditions have changed considerably compared to a year earlier. Supply of Azeri gas through the new TAP route has already begun to Greece as well as Bulgaria, increasing overall supply, which has obliged, and permitted, gas utility DEPA to pursue a more aggressive pricing policy as the company pushes to absorb quantities it has committed to through clauses in existing contracts.

Also, the TAP-related increase of gas supply to Bulgaria, combined with this country’s inflow of Russian gas through oil-indexed price agreements, currently relatively cheaper, is now depriving Greek wholesale gas companies of entry into a neighboring market that was available for trading activity last year.

Furthermore, conditions have also been impacted by a competition committee decision no longer requiring DEPA to stage gas auctions to make available a share of its gas orders to rival traders. This measure was introduced and maintained to help liberalize Greece’s gas market.

The new conditions are pushing Greek traders towards more competitive pricing policies. They appear to have acknowledged that their profit margins will be narrower in 2021.

DEPA, helped by the fact that a sizeable proportion of its gas purchases is oil-indexed, is said to be playing a dominant role in the ongoing negotiations for new contracts with customers.

It should be pointed out that, unlike rival gas importers such as Mytilineos, Elpedison and Heron, all benefitting through self-consumption of a large part of their gas orders for gas-fired power stations they operate, DEPA does not self-consume.

Prometheus Gas, a member of the Copelouzos group, remains a formidable player, while the power utility PPC and petroleum company Motor Oil are less influential in the wholesale gas market.

Higher LNG prices, compared to pipeline gas, will decrease demand for LNG this year and weaken the interest of traders for LNG supply through gas grid operator DESFA’s Revythoussa terminal on the islet just off Athens. Last year, this facility was a hot spot of trading activity as a result of lower-priced LNG.

Azeri gas through TAP route now just a fortnight away

Just two weeks remain before the scheduled launch of the TAP gas pipeline on January 1, a development to facilitate the inflow of Azeri gas into the Greek market.

This coming Monday, in the final step before the launch, the TAP project, running across Greece’s north, Albania and the Adriatic Sea to Italy, will be interconnected with Greek gas grid operator DESFA’s domestic network.

Greek gas utility DEPA has already reached an agreement with Azeri officials for an annual amount of 1 bcm through the TAP route. Azerbaijan is offering customers discount prices for 2021.

TAP’s Azeri natural gas supply to the Greek market will represent a fifth gas source alternative for Greece, bolstering the country’s energy security while also promising to offer benefits to consumers and the national economy.

The technical details of the TAP-DESFA pipeline interconnection, situated in Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area, were completed several weeks ago. The link has undergone testing over the past month or so.

Post-lignite telethermal plan presented in Parliament

Sustainable heating solutions for the residents of provincial cities in Greece’s Mecedonia region, as well as Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, to replace telethermal systems supported by power utility PPC’s regional lignite-fired power stations that are gradually being withdrawn, have been included in an upgraded just transition plan presented in Parliament yesterday.

This replacement plan was included in a memorandum of understanding and strategic cooperation signed last September by regional and municipal authorities, PPC officials and gas grid operator DESFA.

The plan features the development of network interconnections as well as a thermal hub consisting of the Ptolemaida V power station, now being developed for an annual capacity of between 300-400 MWh; a new combined heat and power (CHP) unit expected to produce between 270 and 350k MWh per year; electric boilers (0-125k MWh per year); and a natural gas boiler (10-125k MWh per year).

According to the plan, the Kardia region will be equipped with 80-MWth electric boilers by October, 2021, to eventually serve as back-up for the system, while new natural gas-fueled thermal energy facilities will also be developed for a total capacity of 160 MWth, along with a CHP unit and natural gas boilers.

 

TAP trial test preparing launch, Azeri gas delivery by year’s end

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project, to enable the delivery of Caspian gas to destinations throughout southeastern, central and western Europe, is currently undergoing trial tests at its interconnection with the Greek grid in Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area, sources have informed.

As things currently stand, gas grid operator DESFA should be ready to receive Azeri natural gas through the Nea Mesimvria point within the next few weeks, a development that will offer the Greek gas grid a fifth alternative supply entry point.

Completion of the trial testing, expected to last until next month, will enable the project’s commercial launch. Greek gas utility DEPA and Bulgaria’s BEH have reserved respective capacities at preceding auctions.

The TAP project’s launch promises to benefit the Greek economy and also bolster the country’s energy supply security.

At present, the national gas grid possesses three entry points. Russian gas enters Greece via the Nea Mesimvria point after crossing the Bulgarian system. Kipoi in Evros, northeastern Greece, linked to a Greek-Turkish pipeline, and the LNG terminal at the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, represent the Greek system’s two other entry points.

Besides Nea Mesimvria, the TAP project, running across northern Greece and through Albania all the way across the Adriatic Sea to Italy, will also offer the Greek gas grid a fifth entry point via Italy.

Distributor DEDA wants swifter delivery of operator projects

Gas distributor DEDA, covering all areas around Greece except for wider Athens, Thessaloniki and Thessaly, wants gas grid operator DESFA to complete key grid projects six months sooner so that the distributor may proceed with tenders for distribution network expansion projects.

DESFA needs to construct metering/regulating stations in Livadia, central Greece, as well as the Kastoria and Kozani regions in northern Greece.

DEDA called for a swifter delivery of these stations in public consultation staged for DESFA’s ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030.

DESFA plans to complete work on the Livadia metering/regulating station in March, 2022. However, DEDA has requested the station’s completion six months earlier, explaining it will not be able to distribute to consumers in the area until the station’s construction has been completed.

DEDA also called for the Kastoria and Kozani stations to be complete six months earlier, citing the same reasons.

In addition, DEDA requested the development of a natural gas compressor station close to the areas of Karpenisi, central Greece, and Amfissa, slightly southeast, to facilitate CNG supply to these regions.