PPC retail market share remains high, 64.37% in August

Power utility PPC’s retail electricity market share remains high, capturing 64.37 percent in August, down slightly from the previous month’s 65.25 percent, a latest report issued by the Greek energy exchange has shown.

The slight contraction does not represent a wider change in the overall market, but, instead, has been attributed to a market share gain by one supplier, Elpedison, a joint venture involving petroleum group ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and Italy’s Edison, following ELPE’s decision to stop receiving high-voltage electricity from PPC for supply from Elpedison. As a result, Elpedison’s retail electricity market share increased to 5.69 percent from 4.44 percent, placing the company in third place among the independent electricity suppliers.

PPC has essentially maintained recent market share gains in the retail market’s low and medium-voltage categories following power bill hikes made by independent suppliers as a result of their decisions to trigger wholesale cost-related clauses included in their electricity bills.

The entire field of independent electricity suppliers increased their overall share to 35.63 percent in August from 34.75 percent in July.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, led the pack of independent suppliers with a 7.67 percent market share in August, marginally below July’s 7.85 percent. Heron followed in second place with 6.4 percent in August from 6.77 percent in July and Elpedison was ranked third with aforementioned figures. NRG ranked fourth with 4.42 percent from 4.26 percent, while Watt and Volt was ranked fifth with an unchanged market share of 2.67 percent. Volterra was sixth with 2.05 percent from 2.07 percent, Fysiko Aerio Attikis seventh with 1.87 percent from 1.94 percent, Zenith eighth with 1.56 percent from 1.55 percent, Volton ninth with 1.46 percent from 1.43 percent and KEN tenth with 0.75 percent, unchanged from July to August.

ELPE leaving PPC for supply agreement with Elpedison

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), until now receiving its high-voltage electricity from power utility PPC, appears set to end this association to establish a new supply deal with energy firm Elpedison, the petroleum group’s own 50-50 joint venture with Italy’s Edison.

If this move is confirmed, Elpedison’s retail market share will make a gain to nearly 1.5 percent.

PPC, currently involved in talks with industrial consumers for new high-voltage supply deals until 2023, is likely to lose another big producer, sources informed, without elaborating.

Last month, the power utility officially reached a supply agreement with Aluminium of Greece, a member of the Mytilineos group, the final deal between the two enterprises following a 60-year association.

Barring one case, in which considerable ground still needs to be covered, PPC’s other negotiations will industrial consumers are believed to be nearing agreements, sources informed.

PPC and the industrial consumers still need to agree on the extent of a tariff increase, expected to be set at approximately 20 percent. The new agreements are not expected to offer consumers discounts for punctual payments.

Other details being discussed include how the respective profiles of industrial consumers will influence tariff agreements. Take-or-pay clause details are also still being negotiated.

This round of deals between PPC and industrial consumers will be the last involving fixed tariff agreements. From 2023 onwards, industrial consumer supply agreements with PPC will be subject to floating rates pegged to wholesale market costs.

Conditions for power purchase agreements (PPAs) between industrial consumers and RES producers are expected to have ripened by 2023. A related energy exchange platform facilitating such agreements is expected to be ready within 2022.

IGB gas pipeline launch delayed by 8 months for late-June, 2022

The commercial launch of the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline has been deferred by 8 months, for June 30, 2022, as a result of pandemic-related obstacles faced during the project’s development.

The gas pipeline’s technical work is now expected to be completed by the end of this year, instead of April, 2021, as was originally scheduled.

Two months earlier, ICGB, the consortium developing the project, informed companies that have reserved pipeline capacities through a market test of the unavoidable delay in the commercial launch.

Contractor AVAX, the winning bidder for the project’s construction in an international tender staged by ICGB, began developing the pipeline in May, 2019, prior to the pandemic, whose emergence and impact forced the company to drastically reschedule the IGB project.

International quarantine rules have delayed the IGB project’s progress as many workers needing to regularly cross the Greek-Bulgarian border have been forced to quarantine, each time, for days.

The quarantining rules have also complicated the transfer of equipment needed from one country to the other.

The ICGB consortium is comprised of Bulgaria’s BEH, holding a 50 percent stake, and IGI Poseidon, a 50-50 partnership involving DEPA International Projects and Italy’s Edison.

The IGB gas pipeline, to cover a total length of 182 kilometers, will run from Komotini, northeastern Greece, to Stara Zagora in Bulgaria, offering a second interconnection between the two countries, in addition to the nearby Sidirokastro link.

The project is planned to begin operating at an annual capacity of 3 bcm, which could be boosted to 5 bcm at a latter date.

 

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.

New deadline extensions granted for work at hydrocarbon blocks

The higher risk entailed in hydrocarbon exploration as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and a mass turn, including by petroleum companies, to green-energy activities are factors forcing investors with licenses to Greek blocks to delay their development plans.

Energean Oil & Gas and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) have both requested and been granted deadline extensions for preliminary exploration work at two blocks to which they hold licenses that were approved by Greek authorities in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

These extensions concern offshore Block 2 in the Ionian Sea – for which Energean is the operator with a 75 percent stake following Total’s withdrawal in February, 2020, and ELPE the minority partner with a 25 percent stake – and an onshore block in the northwest Peloponnese for which ELPE is the sole participant.

Energean requested and was granted a 24-month extension, until March 15, 2023, by EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, for preliminary work at Block 2 in the Ionian Sea.

EDEY also granted ELPE an extension, though shorter – 6 months, to September 15, 2021 – for the completion of preliminary work at its northwest Peloponnese license. ELPE originally sought a 20-month extension until March 15, 2022.

These extensions follow a decision, early this year, by Repsol and Energean to return to the Greek State their license to an onshore block at Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece.

Also earlier this year, EDEY granted a third extension to ELPE and Edison E&P (now Energean, following its acquisition of the Italian company’s local hydrocarbon portfolio) for initial drilling at a Gulf of Patras block in the country’s west, which has been extended to January, 2023.

Tenaris, Edison, Snam unite for hydrogen-based steelmaking project

Tenaris, Edison and Snam have signed a letter of intent to launch a project aimed at decarbonizing Tenaris’s seamless pipe mill in Dalmine, northern Italy, through the introduction of green hydrogen in some production processes, the companies have announced.

The project, which is part of a broader initiative known as “Dalmine Zero Emissions”, promises to launch the first industrial-scale application of hydrogen in Italy to decarbonize the steel sector.

Tenaris, Edison and Snam will collaborate to identify and implement the most suitable solutions for the production, distribution and use of green hydrogen at the Tenaris mill, contributing their skills to invest in the best available technologies.

The project looks to generate hydrogen and oxygen through an approximate 20 MW electrolyzer that will be installed at the Dalmine plant and to adapt the steelmaking process to use green hydrogen instead of natural gas.

The initiative may also include the construction of a storage site for the accumulation of high-pressure hydrogen and the use of oxygen, locally produced through electrolysis, within the melting process. The development of the project would significantly reduce CO2 emissions related to electric arc furnace steel.

After the initial test, the three companies will evaluate whether to expand the collaboration to other stages of the production process, therefore extending the use of hydrogen.

The broader “Dalmine Zero Emissions” initiative was launched by Tenaris together with Tenova and Techint Engineering & Construction to integrate green hydrogen in steelmaking from the electric arc furnace steel and in the downstream processing of the Dalmine mill.

Michele Della Briotta, President of Tenaris Europe and CEO of TenarisDalmine, noted: “The ‘Dalmine Zero Emissions’ project is our latest initiative launched by Tenaris in Italy to improve our environmental footprint, after the investments and projects for the protection of air quality, for energy efficiency, for the reduction of raw materials consumption, for the increase of the content of recycled material in our products and for the enhancement and reuse of our by-products. Through the ‘Dalmine Zero Emissions’ project’, together with qualified partners, we are starting the energy transition of the Dalmine plant, placing ourselves at the forefront of sustainability in the steel sector.”

Nicola Monti, CEO of Edison, commented: “With this agreement, Edison launches a path to support the decarbonization of industrial sectors that are key to the national economy, thus contributing to the achievement of the energy transition objectives set at a national level in the PNIEC and at a European level in the Green Deal. The renewable energy produced by our plants and the technological solutions available to us can concretely contribute to the development of a new and important national value chain, which in the coming decades will accompany the evolution of the economic and production system towards climate neutrality.”

Marco Alverà, CEO of Snam, remarked: “Green hydrogen can represent the ideal solution to decarbonize some key industrial sectors, in particular to produce zero-emission steel in the long term. Today’s agreement, which features three companies active along the entire value chain, is a first step to achieving this important goal. Thanks to its technologies and infrastructure, Snam acts as one of the enablers of the hydrogen supply chain, to contribute to the fight against climate change and the creation of new development opportunities, in line with national and European strategies.”

The implementation of the project will be governed by separate agreements negotiated between the parties in compliance with the legal and regulatory framework.

Upstream projects awaiting Greek State reassurances

Local and foreign upstream companies holding exploration and production licenses for hydrocarbon reserves on Greek territory, offshore and onshore, are awaiting Greek State reassurances for their ventures following a cabinet reshuffle that has resulted in a change of leadership at the energy ministry, bringing in Kostas Skrekas in place of Costis Hatzidakis.

Oil companies, delaying investment plans as a result of the pandemic and lower oil prices, are waiting for a vote of confidence from the Greek State, market sources insist.

The fall in oil prices, currently at levels of about 50 dollar a barrel, may have halted upstream investments internationally, but, nevertheless, this is a good time for resolving bureaucratic obstacles and preparing local communities for prospective exploration efforts that promise to contribute to job creation and economic recovery.

Four upstream investment plans are currently either at an advanced stage in terms of prospective drilling or at preliminary exploration stages.

Of all four plans, Energean’s license for Katakolo, western Greece, is at the most mature stage. Public consultation on an environmental impact study concerning this project’s drilling requirements was completed in December, 2019. The regional authority for western Greece has offered its approval. Even so, a year later, the energy ministry has yet to deliver its decision on the environmental study.

A license for the Gulf of Patras field, held by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Edison, is also at a mature stage. The partners requested, and were granted, an extension for the start of drilling at this field. EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, granted the pair a further 15 months, until January 23, 2023, to facilitate their preparations.

Sources have attributed this additional time to a lack of appropriate regional port facilities, needed to facilitate the installation of equipment required for drilling. ELPE and Edison had previously been given another extension, until October, 2021.

On another front, a partnership comprising Repsol and Energean has until April to start a second stage of exploration activities at its Ioannina block in northwestern Greece. Local community approval is needed. The government needs to take action on the issue.

A fourth upstream project carrying geopolitical weight concerns licenses held by a consortium made up of Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE for offshore fields west and southwest of Crete. Though company representatives recently informed Crete’s regional authorities that seismic surveys are planned to begin towards spring, there have been no further updates or any signs of action.

ELPE lockdown impact fears expressed amid poorer conditions

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE chief executive Andreas Siamissis has expressed fears of the latest lockdown’s impact on fuel consumption, which he will believes will be considerable, during a presentation of third quarter results to analysts.

Narrowed refining margins, which dropped to historic lows during the third quarter, combined with a drop in demand, resulted in unprecedently difficult conditions, ELPE officials noted.

However, rays of hope have emerged for an imminent improvement in refining margins, they added.

Elpedison, ELPE’s joint energy venture with Italy’s Edison, registered a strong power generation performance, up 31 percent in the nine-month period, aided by competitively priced LNG for its production units, company officials informed.

Electricity sales rose by 5 percent, while operating profit reached 43 million euros, from 15 million euros a year earlier.

As for the natural gas market, the commercial activity of gas utility DEPA, in which ELPE holds a 35 percent stake, increased in the third quarter.

DEPA – whose two new entities, DEPA Commercial and DEPA Infrastructure, are both headed for privatization in a procedure that is expected to be completed by March, 2021 – reported a 3Q volume-based sales increase of 48 percent. Its EBITDA figure moved up to 18 million euros, up from 6 million euros a year earlier.

ELPE’s list of imminent RES projects has more-than-doubled compared to last year, the company officials informed.

DEPA Comm VDR open; 5-year stay for Infrastructure buyer

The video data room for the privatization procedure of DEPA Commercial, one of two new gas utility DEPA entities placed for sale, is now open to prospective bidders, but initial information made available is limited to non-financial details.

Financial details on DEPA Commercial will be made available as a second step to all consultants representing the potential buyers, while a third and final stage will follow to conditionally offer bidders confidential information in person at the DEPA headquarters.

As previously reported, the second-round, binding-bids deadline for the DEPA Commercial sale, offering investors a 65 percent stake, has been extended to March, 2021.

The field of second-round qualifiers is comprised of two partnerships, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) with Edison and power utility PPC with Motor Oil Hellas, plus Mytilineos, TERNA, the Copelouzos group, Shell, and the Swiss-based MET Group.

As for DEPA Infrastructure, the other new DEPA entity up for sale, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis is preparing a legislative revision that will require the winning bidder to retain its company shares for a period of at least five years.

This condition will also apply for the DEPA Infrastructure subsidiaries EDA Attiki, EDA Thess and DEDA, the gas distributors covering the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki-Thessaly and rest of Greece, respectively. DEPA fully owns DEDA and EDA Attiki and holds a 51 percent stake in EDA Thess.

The DEPA Infrastructure binding-bids deadline has also been extended to the end of February, 2021. Italgas, EPH, First State Investments, KKR, Macquarie and Sino-CEEF have qualified for the final round.

 

GEK TERNA, Elpedison close to decisions on gas-fueled units

GEK TERNA and Elpedison are expected to announce finalized investment decisions for new gas-fueled power stations with total capacity over 1,400 MW within the next two months, energypress sources informed.

GEK TERNA plans to develop a 660-MW power station at the industrial zone of Komotini, northeastern Greece, while Elpedison, a joint venture involving Hellenic Petroleum ELPE and Italy’s Edison, intends to construct units with a total capacity of 826 MW at the ELPE facilities in Thessaloniki.

These project plans are estimated to be worth a total of at least 600 million euros.

The energy companies have already received energy production licenses as well as other licensing requirements, including environmental permits, for these prospective units, regarded as mature investment plans.

Both companies are awaiting new CAT mechanism details for gas-fueled power stations before finalizing their investment plans. The economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, plus the anticipation of a second wave, are also crucial factors influencing the thinking behind these investment decisions.

Market capacity exists for new combined-cycle gas-fueled power stations during the energy transition over the next ten to 15 years, electricity market officials insist.

The planned withdrawal of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations over the next three or so years combined with a lack of development in RES energy storage systems offers gas-fueled power generation an opportunity to cover capacity to be lost by lignite-fired power station closures.

A recent BloombergNEF report noted big natural gas-fueled power stations are not necessary. However, market officials point to the National Energy and Climate Plan as proof of the need for such units.

The Mytilineos group is developing an 826-MW CCGT in the Agios Nikolaos area of Boetia, northwest of Athens, with the aim of a launch in late-2021.

Business plan, better results, new activities in DEPA Commercial VDR

The virtual data room for a forthcoming privatization to offer a 65 percent stake in DEPA Commercial, an offshoot of gas utility DEPA, expected to be opened for potential buyers to assess by the end of this week, will present a business plan, improved financial figures at DEPA, new company activities envisaged, as well as DEPA’s outlook on the course of the country’s natural gas market and the company’s position within it.

According to privatization fund TAIPED’s revised Asset Development Plan, participants will submit binding bids in December.

The field of first-round entries, comprising two consortiums and five companies, will have roughly three months to prepare binding bids, according to the schedule.

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE and Italy’s Edison are one of the privatization’s two participating consortiums, the other formed by power utility PPC and Motor Oil Hellas. The five individual participants are: Mytilineos, TERNA, Copelouzos group, Shell and the Swiss-based MET group.

New partnerships could be established by the field of participants as long as they do not affect the sale’s competition standards and have been approved by TAIPED.

The sale of DEPA Commercial is a major attraction for potential buyers as it offers a big slice of the wholesale and retail markets, including gas supplier Fysiko Aerio Attikis, a subsidiary covering the wider Athens area. Fysiko Aerio Attikis already serves close to 400,000 households and 10,000 businesses.

DEPA Infrastructure VDR open, DEPA Commercial data soon

A virtual data room has just been opened for the six bidding teams preparing to make second-round offers in the privatization of gas company DEPA Infrastracture, an offshoot of gas utility DEPA.

Czech company EPH, Italy’s Italgas, the Australian investment funds First State Investments and Macquarie, US firm KKR and China’s Sino-CEEF & Shanghai Dazhong Public Utilities now have access to all relevant data concerning the DEPA Infrastructure sale.

Another VDR is expected to be opened within the next few days for bidders participating in the privatization of DEPA Commercial, DEPA’s other entity up for sale.

The participants in this sale, seven entries in total, are: Motor Oil Hellas-PPC, ELPE-Edison, Mytilineos, GEK-TERNA, the Copelouzos group, Dutch company Shell and the Swiss-based MET Group.

VDR information for the DEPA Commercial sale will be made available over three phases as a protective measure intended to ensure competition. The first phase, offering non-sensitive data, will be open for all. Access to VDR information during the second stage, offering sensitive data, will be restricted to consultants. Bidders will be offered conditional access to confidential information in the third phase.

Greece’s privatization fund TAIPED is aiming to declare preferred bidders for both sales in the final quarter of this year. Market officials, however, believe this is more likely to occur in the first quarter of 2021.

DEPA Commercial bidders are allowed to team up and establish consortiums but partnerships for the DEPA Infrastructure sale are not permitted.

Bidders participating in the DEPA Commercial sale are mainly eyeing the company’s prized asset, retail gas supplier and subsidiary Fysiko Aerio Attikis, covering the wider Athens area. This company already serves close to 400,000 households and 10,000 businesses.

Six Greek heavyweights among DEPA Commercial contenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Seven bidders through to DEPA Commercial sale’s final round

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Poseidon overland section plan kept alive, PCI status sought

IGI Poseidon, a 50-50 joint venture between Greek gas utility DEPA and Italian energy operator Edison, is keeping alive the development prospects of an overland Greek segment, across northern Greece, for its Poseidon pipeline, to cross the Ionian Sea for a Greek-Italian link.

DEPA and Edison have submitted an application to the European Commission for PCI status concerning the overland section of Poseidon, enabling EU funding support, sources informed.

The Poseidon pipeline’s onshore segment, planned to stretch 760 km across northern Greece, from Kipous in the northeast, to Florovouni-Thesprotia, in the country’s northwest, before crossing the Ionian Sea all the way to Otranto, on Italy’s east coast, is considered an extension of the EastMed gas pipeline plan to link Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Poseidon’s onshore segment could be used to transport natural gas from east Mediterranean gas reserves to Balkan markets.

The Poseidon pipeline’s overland section can also be expected to be linked to the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline, another project involving IGI Poseidon.

The Greek-Italian Poseidon pipeline has been incorporated into a trilateral agreement signed by Greece, Cyprus and Israel for the EastMed pipeline. This pact was ratified in Greek Parliament last month.

Greece, Cyprus and Israel recognize the overland section of the Poseidon pipeline as a project of national significance.

Capacity of the Poseidon pipeline has been increased to 15 bcm from an original capacity of 8 bcm, while a further capacity boost to 20 bcm is planned.

 

DEPA Trade sale short list this month, sooner than expected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Greece, Cyprus, Israel, with US, plan for EastMed meeting next month

The energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel plan to stage a trilateral meeting next month, with US involvement, for talks on the prospective EastMed gas pipeline, to transport gas from Israeli and Cypriot fields to Europe via Greece and Italy.

It remains uknown if Francis Fanon, the US Assistant Secretary of State and head of the country’s energy portfolio, will participate at this meeting.

It also remains unclear if participants will stage a virtual conference as a result of pandemic measures or meet in person.

The Greek, Cypriot and US governments were waiting for the new Israeli government to be sworn in before shaping plans for the EastMed meeting, to also serve as a second energy conference between the four nations following an inaugural session in Athens last August.

Yuval Steinitz has been reappointed at Israel’s top energy post, meaning the line-up of last year’s session between the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli energy ministers can be repeated at the next meeting. Greece’s Costis Hatzidakis and Cyprus’ Giorgos Lakkotrypis are still at their posts.

The Greek, Cypriot and Israeli government officials are expected to reaffirm the commitment of their respective countries to the EastMed gas pipeline, as well as commitment to cooperation for regional peace and prosperity, sources said.

Also, the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, along with the session’s US representative, will seek to send Turkey a unified message on its provocative actions against Greece as well as increased aggression in the wider southeast Mediterranean region.

A trilateral EastMed gas pipeline agreement was approved in Greek Parliament last January.

Israel could soon reach a decision on the financing of some of the studies needed for the international pipeline’s link to the national grid.

Also, IGI Poseidon, a consortium comprising Greek gas utility DEPA and Italy’s Edison, is moving ahead with studies for the pipeline’s underwater and overland route between Greece and Italy. IGI Poseidon wants to make an investment decision on this project within the next two years. Meanwhile, Cyprus is making progress on licensing matters.

Energean Power FPSO hull sails away from China

Energean Oil & Gas’ Enegean Power FPSO hull sailed away from the COSCO yard in China today and will now be towed to the Sembcorp Marine Admiralty Yard in Singapore, where the topsides will be integrated, before the completed FPSO is towed to the Karish field in Israel for installation and hook-up, the company has announced in a statement.

The sailaway of the hull from China represents the achievement of a key milestone in the Karish project timetable, the statement noted.

During the construction of the hull in China, more than 5 million man hours free of LTI’s have been completed. Including the construction of the topsides in Singapore and other relevant works, more than 10 million man hours free of LTI’s have been completed so far in the construction of the Energean Power FPSO.

Energean has also successfully completed the drilling of the three development wells in the Karish Main field and is confident that the three development wells can produce at combined rates of 800 mmscf/d, which is sufficient to fill the capacity of the FPSO (8 BCM per year), the company statement added.

On another important development, the Karish gas sales pipeline (30 & 24 inch) was shipped from Greece last week and offloaded successfully at Limassol Port, Cyprus.

The pipeline will be loaded from the Limassol port on PSVs and from them on the Karish Field pipe-laying vessel Solitaire.

The gas sales pipeline of approximately 90 km will transport gas from the Enegean Power FPSO to an onshore valve station at the Dor landfall in Israel.

First gas on the Karish project is on track for H1 2021.

Update on the Edison E&P acquisition

Also, Energean and Edison have entered into a formal amendment to the Sale and Pusrchase Agreement on 2 April 2020, in which:

  • the Algerian Assets shall be excluded from the scope of the acquisition of Edison E&P;
  • in recognition of the exclusion of the Algerian Assets, there will be an adjustment to the total consideration of the acquisition of approximately $150 million (as at the lock-box date of 1st January 2019).

Energean is working to complete the acquisition of Edison E&P as soon as is possible in 2020, subject to the approval of its shareholders and the other relevant governments, the company statement noted. Thereafter, completion of Energean’s agreement for the sale of Edison E&P’s UK and Norwegian subsidiaries to Neptune for a consideration of $250 Million plus contingent consideration of up to $30 million (as previously announced), will be completed as soon as is reasonably practicable, it added.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEPA Trade offers due today, at least 7 players interested

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Improved Gazprom deal raises DEPA in the eyes of investors

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

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

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

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

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

ELPE-Edison granted extra 18 months for troubled Patras license

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, the local partner of Gulf of Patras license in western Greece, has been granted an 18-month extension to complete second-phase work at the license. Project delays have been attributed to inadequate port infrastructure and bureaucracy.

ELPE, joined by Edison as a consortium partner for this hydrocarbon project, requested more time to complete the second phase, including exploratory drilling.

The consortium was expected to conduct its first drilling operation at the Gulf of Patras license this year but has been slowed down by insufficient port facilities at the regional Patras and Astakos ports, as well as environmental licensing procedures, according to sources.

ELPE and Edison require adequate port facilities, including storage, to ship in the project’s drilling equipment.

The Gulf of Patras drilling operation is seen as a project that could prompt further hydrocarbon investments, especially if this field’s probable oil deposit, estimated at 140 million barrels, is confirmed.

Bureaucracy and a lack of strategic planning for development of the country’s upstream sector has kept investors at a distance, oil company officials and industry experts have repeatedly noted over a number of years

The regional infrastructure’s inability to serve this venture’s needs has frustrated officials. The Gulf of Patras tender was launched back in 2012.

A previous extension had given the ELPE-Edison consortium until April 2, 2018 to complete the project’s second phase. This deadline has now been extended to October, 2, 2021.

 

Elpedison partners still undecided on joint bid for DEPA Trade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Trilateral East Med agreement set to be signed in Athens today

The energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel are set to sign a trilateral agreement in Athens this afternoon for the development of East Med, a natural gas pipeline to carry gas to Europe via the three countries and Italy.

The pipeline, planned to measure 2,000 km and offer a capacity ranging between 10 to 20 billion cubic meters, promises to reinforce the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli alliance amid times of heightened Turkish provocation in the region.

Italian economic development minister Stefano Patuanelli, responsible for the country’s energy portfolio, has forwarded a letter of support for the project to Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis.

The Greek minister will sign the East Med agreement today with Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Yuval Steinitz, his Cypriot and Israeli counterparts, respectively. Italy is also expected to eventually join the partnership for this project.

Just hours before this signing ceremony, planned for 15:45, Greek gas utility DEPA and Energean Oil & Gas, active in the wider Mediterranean region, will sign a Letter of Intent at the energy ministry.

Importantly, this agreement promises to pave the way for a first commercial agreement reserving natural gas quantities ahead of the East Med pipeline’s construction, as DEPA will commit to purchasing natural gas quantities from Energean, extracting at Israeli gas field licenses. These quantities will represent approximately 20 percent of the East Med pipeline’s initial capacity.

The development prospects of East Med were recently propelled by a decision from IGI Poseidon, a 50-50 joint venture involving DEPA and Italy’s Edison, to accelerate the completion of all pending issues needed for the project’s maturity.

An upcoming East Med Gas Forum, to take place in Cairo January 15 and 16 with participation from the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, should help add further dimension to the alliance.

The East Med pipeline, planned as a complementary route to other projects in the wider region, stands as the most mature component of an EU plan entailing the development of an energy corridor to connect new energy sources in the east Mediterranean with European markets, including the southeast European market.

 

DEPA, pivotal for Greek energy plan, pushing ahead internationally

Through its strategic involvement in an array of pipeline and infrastructure projects, Greek gas utility DEPA is becoming a key driver of Greece’s geopolitical upgrade and the diversification of supply sources for the wider region of South-East Europe.

DEPA is establishing its position in the region through a series of significant international projects such as the acceleration of IGB pipeline construction, participation in the IGI Poseidon pipeline  interconnecting Greece and Italy, and, surely, booking capacity in TAP which, from 2020 onwards, will transport Caspian gas to Europe.

Developments around East Med Pipeline are also rapid, with the most recent being IGI Poseidon’s (the 50% – 50% JV between DEPA S.A. and Edison S.p.A ) BoD decision to fast-track the completion of all pending stages that will bring the project to maturity.  The €70 million Feasibility Study is being accelerated, along with every other stage, to complete the East Med pipeline’s design, which will also pave the way for the final investment decision.

All the above are just one part of DEPA’s multifaceted international activity. Prior to that, in October, a bilateral agreement was signed in Sofia for the start of IGB pipeline construction, a project overseen by ICGB AD, in which DEPA has a 25% stake.

The project is expected to go into operation in July 2021, with an initial capacity of 3 billion cubic meters. At first, the entire load of gas will come from TAP that will go into operation within 2020, delivering Azeri gas to European markets, in which DEPA has booked capacity of 1 billion cubic meters. Thus, through IGB, the company will supply the Bulgarian market with Caspian gas, “breaking” for the first time the existing Russian monopoly.

Another major development took place just yesterday, when the company’s Board of Directors approved the participation of DEPA, with a 20% stake, to the equity of GASTRADE, the company developing the FSRU project in Alexandroupolis.

The Terminal is complementary to the IGB pipeline and consists of an FSRU (Floating Storage Regasification Unit), anchored 10 km off the coastal area of ​​Alexandroupolis, with storage capacity up to 170,000 cubic meters of LNG and 22.7 million cubic meters daily regasification capacity, per day (8.3 billion m3 / year), as well as a 28 km long onshore and subsea pipeline system.

The international presence of the company is also enhanced by the Greek-Italian energy interconnection through the IGI Poseidon pipeline, as well as the CYNERGY program that “breaks” Cyprus energy isolation by establishing a natural gas supply chain in the country.

Apart from its participation in international projects, equally important are the company’s long-term supply contracts with Russian Gazprom, Turkish BOTAS, Algerian Sonatrach, IGSC (Azerbaijan) through the TAP pipeline, as well as the procurement of significant quantities of LNG through the global SPOT market, at competitive prices.

DEPA’s CEO, Konstantinos Xifaras, summed up the company’s international role:

“For thirty years, DEPA has been a leading player in the Balkan energy sector, as well as an integral part of the European strategy for energy diversification and security of supply both of Greece and Europe.

At the same time, by deploying multilayered energy diplomacy and participating in major international projects, DEPA establishes Greece as a regional energy hub and upgrades its economic and geo-strategic importance.”

DEPA’s footprint is solid in the domestic energy market as well, where it recently prevailed in a tender process for natural gas supply to PPC in 2020. The company acknowledged as one of the two bidders, with the ability to supply PPC with 2 million MWh.

IGI Poseidon in talks with Israeli firms for East Med agreements

The IGI Poseidon consortium, a 50-50 joint venture between Greek gas utility DEPA and Italy’s Edison, is engaged in talks with Israeli companies for direct and indirect involvement in its East Med gas pipeline project, planned to transport gas from Israeli and Cypriot fields to Europe via Greece and Italy.

DEPA and Edison are holding talks with Israel Natural Gas Lines Company, Israel’s gas grid operator, which could lead to a stake in the project for the latter, energypress sources have informed.

If these talks come to fruition, then the East Med project’s planned route, covering 2,000 km, will have made an import step towards actualization, securing gas transmission from the Levantine gas field, off the coast of Israel.

Besides its talks with Israel Natural Gas Lines Company, IGI Poseidon signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on December 2 with Tahal group member TMNG, a leading Israeli natural gas EPC company serving as a one-stop shop for natural gas and oil-related projects. This agreement concerns the development of an investment plan for exports of Israeli natural gas quantities to Europe.

However, much work is still needed before the aforementioned deals, or others, begin offering benefits, officials have stressed.

A period of at least two years will be needed before a finalized investment decision can be taken, according to the IGI Poseidon board, which recently approved funding worth 70 million euros for project-maturity studies.

 

Energean SPA for Edison E&P buy awaiting gov’t approvals

A previously announced conditional sale and purchase agreement (SPA) entered by Energean on July 4, 2019 for the acquisition of Edison E&P from Edison remains subject to relevant government approvals, including the consent of the relevant Algerian authorities in respect of the Edison E&P assets located in Algeria, Energean announced in a statement released today.

Energean notes that Edison has received a letter from the Algerian authorities, which invites Edison to discuss the transaction with Sonatrach. In parallel, discussions are ongoing between Energean and Edison to ascertain any requirement for amendments to the SPA. Energean and Edison are also working to agree an appropriate settlement on the total transaction consideration to take into account any exclusion of the Algerian Asset from the transaction perimeter.

Energean does not expect the Algerian discussions to impact upon its ability to close the transaction on the remaining assets in the Edison E&P portfolio. The required government approvals have already been obtained from UK, Norway, France and Greece.

Approvals from Italy and Egypt are anticipated in the near future. Energean is working to complete the Edison E&P acquisition as soon as is possible in 2020, subject to the approval of its shareholders and the other relevant governments.

The sale of Edison E&P’s UK and Norwegian subsidiaries will be completed as soon as is reasonably practicable thereafter, the Energean statement noted.

DEPA, Edison firm on East Med amid Turkish provocation

Italy’s Edison, part of the Poseidon consortium formed with Greek gas utility DEPA for the development of the East Med gas pipeline – planned to transport natural gas from Israeli and Cypriot fields to the EU via Greece and Italy – has decided to accelerate pre-construction procedures following escalating provocation from Turkey, energypress has reported.

A decision was reached at a recent Poseidon meeting in Milan to assign all needed project studies, financially backed by the EU, within the next two months for swifter completion of preliminary procedures, and, by extension, the project itself, a 2,000-km pipeline.

Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and his Israeli counterpart Yuval Steinitz reiterated their support for the project at a recent meeting.

Turkey, seeking to block the project, recently reached a maritime border agreement with Libya, which EU leaders are set to reject as invalid, insisting the pact interferes with the rights of other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Hristodoulidis has received reassurances from Israeli government officials that the country is not involved in talks with Ankara for the development of an alternative gas pipeline, according to a Cypriot newspaper report. Israel remains committed to the East Med plan, it added.

DEPA’s Poseidon stake will be transferred to the Greek gas utility’s division for international projects. DEPA is being split ahead of its upcoming privatization.

DEPA Infrastructure sale to be announced mid-December

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

LNG bunkering network for key Greek ports discussed in Rome

The development of an LNG bunkering network covering Greece’s main ports is one of the features included in a Greek-Italian Memorandum of Cooperation signed yesterday in Rome.

Italian officials, driven by increased LNG usage, internationally, proposed the development of LNG bunkering stations at major Greek ports during Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit to the neighboring country. The Greek leader was joined by energy deputy Gerassimos Thomas.

Discussion on the development of an LNG bunkering network in Greece goes back a number of years, steered by an EU directive from 2012 focused on the use of cleaner shipping fuel.

Unlike Italian ports, Greece’s ports have lagged behind in this department. In Italy, Edison has pushed ahead with many such investments, big and small-scale.

The objective, in Greece, is to develop a network to cover 15 percent of bunkering needs over the next decade and 25 percent by 2050. Italian know-how would provide valuable support.

Italgas, Italy’s biggest natural gas distributor, has displayed an interest in bidding for DEPA Infrastructure, one of two new gas utility DEPA entities emerging for the gas company’s upcoming privatization.

In a lesser-known development, Greece has received a proposal concerning the use of Italian gas storage facilities, for a fee, until an underground offshore facility south of Kavala is developed to bolster the country’s energy security, according to sources.

The Greek-Italian collaboration plan includes an upgrade of the existing submarine electricity grid interconnection linking the two countries. This line has been plagued by technical problems over recent years, often shutting down for repair work.