EKO returns to Georgian market through Wissol deal

Greek fuel retailer EKO, controlled by ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), has reached an agreement with Wissol Petroleum, one of Georgia’s biggest fuel distributors, for the establishment of a flagship EKO gasoline station in Tbilisi as a pilot project amid a wider strategy eyeing expansion in the Balkans and southeast Europe.

The new fuel station will mark EKO’s return to the Georgian market following a previous spell that began in 1996, when ELPE became one of the former Soviet state’s first foreign investors, capturing a 5 percent market share with a retail presence numbering 16 outlets.

“EKO’s return to Georgia is the first step in the partnership with Wisssol,” noted Dimitris Karabalis, Greece’s ambassador to Georgia. “Wissol was chosen based on its size as Georgia’s biggest chain and its credibility as a reliable local associate,” he added.

Commenting on the development, ELPE official Roberto Karahannas noted: “We are the most developed group in southeast Europe. Through EKO, we offer the highest quality products in the countries where we are present and are now back in the Georgian market.”

In his remarks, Wissol president Soso Pkhakadze pointed out: “Even though EKO has not been active in Georgia for a number of years, the company, based on market research, is renowned for possessing exceptional quality.”

Improved ELPE results a positive indicator for entire energy market

Hellenic Fuels, an ELPE subsidiary that controls EKO and BP, two of the country’s three major fuel trading companies, posted a sales figure of 3.54 billion metric tones in 2016, a one percent increase compared to the previous year’s figure of 3.49 metric tones.

The company also reported an increase in consolidated sales, prompted by its expanded network of fuel stations, which rose from 1,739 to 1,709, a 2 percent increase.

The annual release of ELPE’s financial results is viewed as an important indicator of where the local energy sector stands as the corporate group maintains a widespread energy market presence.

ELPE is active in fuel trade, through Hellenic Fuels, electricity production and supply, through Elpedison, as well as the natural gas market, as the corporation holds a 35 percent stake in DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation.

The financial standing of Hellenic Fuels, an ELPE subsidiary that controls EKO and BP, two of the country’s three major fuel trading companies, mirrors the entire fuel market’s condition.

In the electricity production sector, ELPE, which maintains a vertically integrated operation through Elpedison, more-than-doubled output in 2016 at its two plants. It amounted to 2,489 GWh from 1,143 GWh in 2015. Elpedison posted a significant sales increase, up 71 percent, and an equally impressive EBITDA rise, up to 40 million euros from 18 million euros. Also, the company rebounded from a loss of 9 million euros to post a net profit of 4 million euros.

As for its natural gas market activity results, ELPE, whose performance signals the figures to come from DEPA, posted a sales increase of 31 percent in 2016, up to to 3.99 billion NM3 from 3 billion NM3. This increase was driven by higher demand at gas-fueled power stations, especially in the fourth quarter, for which DEPA reported an 18 percent year-on-year sales increase to electricity producers and a 21 percent increase to the EPA regional gas supply companies.