New PPC boss announcement next test for rebounding share price

Investors are fully backing an imminent restructuring plan for the power utility PPC, as highlighted by the spectacular rise of the company’s share, up 124 percent since an April low and 145 percent from the deepest dive registered in 2018.

PPC’s share, which shed 80 percent of its value over the past five years, has regained 18.5 percent of this loss over the past few days alone, driven by the prospect of a restructuring plan seen as realistic and implementable by investors.

It has been a roller-coaster ride for PPC’s share price over the past few years, a reflection of the contradicting views of upbeat and concerned pundits.

PPC shareholders may have gained 145 percent since the 2018 low but they have also lost 40 percent since the highest price in 2017 peak, 62 percent since the highest level recorded in 2015, and 75 percent since the peak in 2014.

The appointment of PPC’s new chief executive, rumored to be set for an announcement over the next few days, will serve as the next major crash test for the power utility’s share price.

The new boss will succeed Manolis Panagiotakis who submitted his resignation from the state-controlled power utility just days after the July 7 election that brought the conservative New Democracy party into power.

The new PPC boss has already been picked from a limited list of candidates and could be announced by tomorrow, when energy minister Costis Hatzidakis returns from an energy forum in Cairo, sources informed.

PPC’s EBITDA performance has the potential to rise by between 400 and 600 million euros over the next year or two, according to the results of an Axia Research study released yesterday.

PM decides on secretary general for environment and energy ministry

Prime Minister-elect Kyriakos Mitsotakis has chosen Alexandra Sdoukou, an experienced energy sector authority, as secretary general for the environment and energy ministry, sources have informed.

An official announcement of the appointment is expected to be made within the next few days along with the newly elected New Democracy administration’s choices for the equivalent posts at most of the other ministries.

In recent years, Sdoukou has served as an advisor for Mitsotakis and his close associates on energy matters.

Over the past 15 years, Sdoukou has offered specialized legal consulting services on matters concerning development, energy and the environment at related ministries.

Born in 1978, Sdoukou studied law at the Democritus University of Thrace and followed up with two post-graduate degrees, one in European Commercial Law at the University of Bristol, the other in European Economic Studies at the Athens University of Economics and Business. In 2010, Sdoukou also took a special Public Administration course at Harvard University.

She practiced law for five years after completing internships at the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.


TAIPED awaiting ND position on ELPE, DEPA privatizations

The privatization fund TAIPED is awaiting the newly elected conservative New Democracy government’s strategy on energy sector privatizations so that it can reshape, from scratch, as it appears, the sale procedures for Hellenic Petroleum ELPE and gas utility DEPA.

The newly appointed energy minister Costis Hatzidakis may have highlighted the importance of these two privatizations during proceedings at the ministry’s recent handover ceremony, describing both sales as agenda priorities. However, everything concerning both will need to be placed on hold as emphasis must currently be placed on the troubled power utility PPC and the effort to find a successor for chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis, who resigned from his post at the state-controlled company shortly after the ND’s victory in the July 7 election.

TAIPED officials also need to stage a first meeting with finance minister Hristos Staikouras, during which talks on the shape of the new ND government’s privatization strategy preferences can be discussed.

ELPE’s future administrative shape, following the recent failure of an initial privatization effort, remains in the dark. Pundits have already ruled out the possibility of a repeat of this sale effort – that is, a concurrent sale of stakes by the petroleum group’s two main shareholders, the Greek State, holding 35.5 percent of ELPE, and the Latsis Group’s Paneuropean, holding 45.5 percent. It is also unknown, if not doubtful, if Paneuropean will be willing to participate in any new ELPE sale procedure.

For the time being, ELPE’s administration is focused on the preparation of the group’s first-half results, expected to be officially reported in late August, as well as an imminent approval in Greek Parliament of hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses secured – as part of a consortium also involving ExxonMobil and Total – for two offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete.

All is currently quiet along the DEPA front. The ND party, according to party sources during the lead-up to the elections, believes the gas utility must be privatized as one entity, not two, through a split of its commercial and infrastructure divisions, as was envisioned by the previous leftist Syriza government.

The DEPA-related intentions of ELPE, holding a 35 percent share of the gas utility, will be pivotal.






DEPA working on minor issues, anticipating leadership change

Officials at gas utility DEPA are currently patching up on minor matters as they await bigger decisions, including the appointment of a new leadership, from the newly elected New Democracy government’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis.

There have been no reports so far on candidates that could replace DEPA chief executive Velissarios Dotsis, appointed recently in an interim role.

The new energy minister’s team is currently focused on finding a replacement for former power utility PPC boss Manolis Panagiotakis, who resigned shortly after last weekend’s elections.

However, it is a matter of time before the energy ministry also turns its attention to DEPA and engages itself with the search for a new head official.

The current DEPA leadership is taking care of minor issues that have accumulated as a result of an administrative crisis at the gas utility over the past few months.

These include a plan for the addition of 6 or 7 auto gas stations to DEPA’s current network of 13 stations. This project is entitled to EU funding. Delays have jeopardized this funding.

Crete grid link project tenders headed for new extension

Bidding deadlines for two tenders concerning the respective procurement of cables and transformers for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, a project that is urgently needed to prevent a looming energy shortage on Crete, are headed for an extension.

Ariadne Interconnector, an SPV subsidiary established by power grid operator IPTO for the project’s development, will need to extend its bidding deadlines for the two tenders as AEPP, the Authority for the Examination of Preliminary Appeals, looking into action taken by Eurosia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli grid interconnection, has deferred its hearing for July 22 from July 15.

Euroasia Interconnector has been at odds with IPTO for development control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment.

The deadlines for the tenders now coincide with AEPP’s new date for the hearing. The deadline for the tender concerning the procurement of cables was previously set for July 8 before being extended to July 22. The tender for transformers was originally set for July 22.

Both tenders cannot proceed until AEPP has reached a decision on the dispute between IPTO and Eurosia Interconnector.

IPTO and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, have already submitted their cases for the AEPP hearing.

According to pundits, Eurosia Interconnector’s chances of a decision in its favor are minimal, at best.

The Cypriot consortium’s decision to take its case to AEPP has been interpreted as a time-buying initiative taken with the hope of gaining the support of the newly elected Greek government.

While in opposition, the New Democracy party, which won last Sunday’s Greek elections, had not made clear whether it supported moves by IPTO, RAE and the ex-energy minister Giorgos Stathakis that ended up giving the Ariadne Interconnector subsidiary control of the Crete-Athens segment.


RES sector growth a top priority for new energy minister

Further and swifter renewable energy growth is a top priority for the newly appointed energy minister Costis Hatzidakis, as he made clear at the ministry’s handover ceremony earlier this week.

The Prime Minister-elect Kyriakos Mitsotakis has also ranked the RES sector as a top priority in instructions forwarded to his energy minister.

In the lead-up to last weekend’s elections, highly ranked RES sector officials complained that the current level of bureaucracy and other administrative obstacles were stifling renewable energy plans.

Citing related studies, Giorgos Peristeris, president at ESIAPE, the Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers, warned that investment plans worth 8.5 billion euros for renewable energy, energy storage and grid interconnection projects are in danger of not being executed as a result of the bureaucracy.

Panagiotis Ladakakos, the chief official at ELETAEN, the Greek Wind Energy Association, has also complained of high levels of bureaucracy troubling the RES sector.

The accumulation of problems created by slow licensing procedures at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, as well as slow court decisions and environmental approvals for projects, can end up delaying projects by as many as 20 years, officials have noted. This is a major disincentive for foreign investors otherwise interested in the Greek market, they added.

PPC lignite sale is over, overall market solution to be sought

The newly elected center-right New Democracy government, appearing determined for major energy sector changes, will begin new negotiations with the European Commission in search of an overall solution for the country’s electricity market and the role and place in it for the power utility PPC, currently struggling.

The long-running disinvestment effort offering investors PPC lignite units has just about collapsed. A binding-offers deadline for a package that includes PPC’s Megalopoli and Meliti units expires on July 15, following an extension. Investors have not shown any interest, while, given the flatness, an additional extension could not reinvigorate the sale.

The next NOME auction, the year’s third, scheduled for July 17 and planned to offer independent energy firms 500 MW/h of PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydropower production, appears likely to be the last under existing terms agreed to by Greece and the country’s lenders. Changes are also expected along this front as part of the intention for an overall electricity market solution.

Initial contact between Brussels and officials of Greece’s new administration has already been made. Meetings are soon expected to become more regular once the government has set out the specifics of its rescue plan for PPC.

Any resulting solution will need to satisfy Greek bailout terms including the need for PPC to have reduced its retail electricity market share to less than 50 percent by the end of this year. The power utility’s share is currently at 73.5 percent, meaning PPC will need to surrender even greater low-cost electricity amounts to competitors through the NOME auctions.

Fair competition in the electricity market also needs to be assured. Hydropower sources, currently exclusively controlled by PPC, may be brought into the negotiating picture. The European Commission is currently conducting a related study on PPC’s management of hydropower generation. Findings have yet to be released.



New government indicates swift, radical measures for PPC

The newly elected center-right New Democracy government plans to take swift and radical action that will aim to remedy the financially pressured power utility PPC and ensure its sustainability and prospects, it became apparent following a meeting yesterday between Prime Minister-elect Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his energy minister Costis Hatzidakis.

The meeting, held to discuss matters at PPC, was Mitsotakis’ first with any of his cabinet members at his Prime Minister’s office, which highlights the emphasis he intends to place on the troubled power utility.

The rescue plan for PPC will benefit consumers as well as workers and offer new potential for the company, Hatzidakis, the new energy minister, stressed at the ministry’s handover ceremony.

The ND government will need to update the PPC rescue plan it had shaped as the main opposition party as the power utility’s condition appears to have deteriorated further in recent times.

An attempt to lure a strategic investor to PPC can only begin as a second stage   once the utility’s financial ambiguities and weaknesses have been improved.

PPC’s situation is complicated and does not only concern the government. The European Commission and its Directorate-General for Competition are also involved, while the privatization fund holds the power to appoint its administration.

Early measures to be taken by the new government will need to focus on improving the power utility’s ability to function.


Experienced Hatzidakis tipped to assume energy portfolio

Center-right New Democracy party deputy Costis Hatzidakis, possessing experience in energy sector matters, is rated the outright favorite to assume the new ND government’s energy and environment portfolio, sources have informed.

This choice for energy minister – if confirmed later today, when the new administration’s cabinet will be announced – highlights Prime Minister-elect Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ emphasis on the energy portfolio as well as his realization that there is no time to waste in the sector.

In the past, Hatzidakis has served as a development minister responsible for energy, while, in the lead-up to yesterday’s elections, played a leading role in shaping and projecting the ND party program for the energy sector. It included party proposals for the power utility PPC, under severe financial pressure.

Hristos Staikouras is being tipped to take over the helm at the finance ministry, while Adonis Georgiadis, also an ND deputy, is favored for the economy ministry, expected to be transformed into the investment ministry.

New ND party arrivals recruited from the center-left of the country’s political spectrum, including Mihalis Hrysohoidis and Kyriakos Pierrakakis, are also expected to figure in Mitsotakis’ government. The two officials are expected to take on consumer protection and digital policy duties, respectively.


New energy ministry to face many issues, from PPC to RES

Yesterday’s elections may have produced a new government, the New Democracy party, with a majority, but Greece’s energy sector issues, from the troubled power utility PPC to the renewable energy market’s need for greater growth, remain the same, if not more pressing.

ND party deputy, Costis Hatizidakis, possessing extensive experience, is slated for the energy portfolio, a choice suggesting the country’s new administration will place particular emphasis on the energy sector. The new cabinet will be announced later today.

In the lead-up to yesterday’s elections, ND described the situation at PPC, under severe financial pressure, as a time bomb created by the outgoing Syriza-led government’s choices.

ND will need to pursue measures that, on the one hand, will lessen the power utility’s electricity market dominance – as part of a wider EU-required effort for electricity market liberalization – and, on the other, restructure and modernize the corporation for ensured sustainability. This would enable PPC to continue serving as a main pillar in the country’s energy system.

The new energy minister will also need to reinvigorate investment interest in the energy sector, both for conventional electricity generation and, most crucially, renewable energy output. Corporate groups, domestic and foreign, have shown signs of investment interest in the Greek market. But specific conditions need to be guaranteed if this interest is to be followed through with action.

The same goes for the hydrocarbon exploration and production sector, where procedural delays need to be eradicated.

Also, industrial energy costs, a chronic issue in Greece, need to be resolved if investment activity is to be boosted.



PPC rebound for €1bn EBITDA by 2022 possible, chief asserts

The worst is over for the power utility PPC as the corporation has the potential to rebound from disappointing financial results at present to an operating profit (EBITDA) of one billion euros three years from now, chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis supported in an interview with energypress.

The utility’s return to positive results could lure investors who would be willing to pay as much as 500 million euros for a 17 percent stake and become a strategic partner who would further reinforce the enterprise, Panagiotakis noted.

Such an amount could end up at state-controlled PPC rather than the TAIPED privatization fund if an equity capital increase is chosen over a direct sale of a 17 percent stake by the fund, Panagiotakis explained.

The PPC boss supports the entry of a strategic partner, as he has made clear in recent times.

The utility’s current administration should remain in place regardless of the results of the upcoming elections this Sunday, as is proper for any listed company. Panagiotakis stressed. The main opposition New Democracy is well ahead in polls.


Pending RES issues, some mature, awaiting next energy ministry

The country’s next energy ministry to be shaped following the forthcoming July 7 elections will face a series of renewable energy sector challenges requiring immediate action, even though all the pre-electoral talk has admittedly paid minimal attention to these.

A number of pending RES sector issues have reached a mature stage as preliminary regulatory work has already been fully processed by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, meaning these cases now await related ministerial decisions for completion.

The needed simplification of RES licensing procedures for electricity generation is a key matter. A file on this matter will be awaiting the new energy ministry’s personnel following this Sunday’s elections.

Another pending issue concerns competitive procedures for non-mature RES projects, still requiring a legislative revision.

As for hybrid power station tariff pricing issues, RAE has completed a related study but has yet to produce a full report for the energy ministry.


Elections, EuroAsia case to delay Crete link tender approval

Greece’s upcoming elections on July 7 and legal action pursued by EuroAsia Interconnector stand in the way of a decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to approve the terms of a competition offering investors a minority stake of up to 39 percent in Ariadne Interconnection, a subsidiary established by power grid operator IPTO for the development of a grid interconnection project to link Crete with Athens.

The RAE decision was expected any day now, but these two factors will delay the announcement for a latter date, sources at IPTO have informed.

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid connection, has reacted as IPTO has taken control of the project’s Crete-Athens segment.

The consortium has submitted a case to Greece’s Authority for the Examination of Preliminary Appeals (AEPP) challenging tenders for the Crete-Athens link’s tenders concerning the project’s development (cables and transformers, budgeted at 600 million and 315 million euros, respectively).

AEPP has set a July 15 date to hear the Cypriot consortium’s case. EuroAsia Interconnector’s bid is not expected to succeed, legal officials explained, as this authority’s jurisdiction deals with companies protesting  tender terms that could exclude them from participating. Even so, the case needs to be heard and will contribute to the delay in RAE’s approval.

The Athens-Crete grid interconnection is urgently needed as electricity demand on the island is increasing while high-polluting units operating on Crete will soon need to be withdrawn as part of the EU’s environmental policy.

IPTO has committed itself to delivering the Athens-Crete link by the end of 2022.


EDEY aims to offer complete Crete portfolio with new areas to next gov’t

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is striving to have completed all preliminary work for new licenses off Crete so that Greece’s next government can be handed a complete portfolio ready for licensing procedures when it begins its tenure following the snap elections on July 7.

The country’s next administration will need to push ahead with new hydrocarbon projects.

EDEY is currently working on environmental studies concerning new areas south of Crete, which the company intends to offer to investors for exploration and production.

Their features differ to those of two offshore licenses already secured by a three-member consortium comprised of ExxonMobil, Total and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), west and southwest of Crete.

The new areas south of Crete had been swept aside in previous procedures but new scientific data has revitalized the interest of investors.

A signing ceremony for one of the two Cretan hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses, west of Crete, will be staged this Thursday, the ExxonMobil- Total-ELPE consortium has been informed.

The second license, southwest of Crete, may also be added to Thursday’s signing ceremony. However, its finalized version still needs to be formally presented, meaning investors will most probably need to wait until after Greece’s snap elections for this license to be signed.

PPC public service sum’s book entry to improve first-half results

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is planning to soon calculate a precise public service compensation (YKO) amount that will need to be returned to the power utility PPC for 2011.

This calculation, for a sum expected to range between 150 and 200 million euros, will enable PPC to make an unpaid receivables entry into its balance sheet, which would improve its first-half financial results.

The finances of PPC, Greece’s biggest corporation, are believed to be under considerable strain at present.

The resulting sum will need to be paid either by PPC’s customers, through a public service surcharge hike, or via the national budget, when the country’s next administration takes over following the July 7 snap elections. The main opposition New Democracy part is well ahead in polls.

The energy ministry refused to attach a related amendment for PPC’s YKO return to a wider draft bill ratified in Greek Parliament just before it was officially dissolved earlier this month for the upcoming elections.

PPC has also pursued an amount of approximately 375 million euros in public service compensation returns from 2012 onward. However, the utility would be prepared to abandon legal action it has already taken under the condition that a decision is reached guaranteeing a return of the amount concerning 2011.


Sub-contracted DEPA workers strike as interim board takes over

One day after a temporary leadership change at gas utility DEPA, a workers’ union representing sub-contracted workers employed by the company has announced a 12-hour strike, from this evening until tomorrow morning, citing lack of progress in a series of demands made.

The union has reiterated demands for pay rises, bonuses, staff addition and payroll inclusion for sub-contracted workers.

The union wants a 15 percent pay rise for workers whose monthly net earnings are currently up to 1,300 euros, as well as a 10 percent pay rise for workers earning net amounts of between 1,301 and 1,600 euros. Other demands include a 10 percent marriage bonus and 5 percent bonuses for every child in the family.

Quite clearly, these demands cannot be met in the 17 days remaining before Greece’s snap elections on July 7. However, they do send a signal, especially to the next government to emerge from the elections, not the new DEPA board, an interim line-up picked to serve until a new gas utility administration is appointed following the elections.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis recently called for the immediate replacement of the administration at DEPA, once the snap elections were announced.

DEPA chief executive Dimitris Tzortzis was replaced by Velissarios Dotsis as an interim boss.

Public service compensation nighttime rate cut after the elections

A legislative revision for lower public service compensation (YKO) charges concerning nighttime electricity consumption has been left unfinished for after the snap elections on July 7.

The government’s call for early elections stopped the energy ministry from submitting a related bill to Parliament. This adds yet another pending matter to the next energy minister’s agenda.

After discovering, quite some time ago, that consumers were being overcharged for public service compensation amounts concerning nighttime consumption, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, ordered the energy ministry to prepare a legislative revision for correction. However, the call for early elections intervened, leaving the matter unfinished.

RAE proposed a nighttime public service compensation reduction from 0.085 euro per KWh to 0.03 euro for the highest consumption category of 2,001 KWh and over, as well as a drop from 0.05 euro to 0.015 euro for the mid-level consumption category of 1,600 to 2,000 KWh.

Since January 1, 2018, nighttime public service compensation charges have been the same as the daytime rates for all consumption categories.

Until December, 2017, a flat YKO rate of 0.00889 euro applied for all nighttime consumption amounts.

RES measures needed now to avoid issues, association warns

A series of RES sector measures must urgently be legislated and not held back by any pre-election obstacles, otherwise the sector faces a serious risk of devastation, ESIAPE, the Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers, has warned.

The revisions required include granting deadline extensions for grid connections concerning new RES stations that have submitted installation license applications, the association noted.

Also, connection agreements need to be signed for RES projects that have been completed but whose agreements have remained pending as a result of procedural delays at power grid operator IPTO, ESIAPE noted.

Legislative revisions are also needed to enable the induction of RES producers into the Day Ahead Schedule; permit biomass and biogas electricity production; and to extend work contracts of scientists employed at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, set to expire on June 30, to ensure the authority’s ability to function properly, crucial for the RES sector, ESIAPE pointed out.

Energy minister calls for DEPA administration change

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has called for all necessary measures to be taken for the immediate replacement of the administration at gas utility DEPA, a development prompted by the government’s decision to stage early elections on July 7.

The new DEPA administration will assume the task of maintaining smooth operations at the gas company for a brief period until the country’s next government appoints a new DEPA administration of its choice.

Stathakis made the call for a leadership change at DEPA in a letter to the privatization fund TAIPED and Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, holding a 35 percent stake in the gas utility.

In the letter, addressed to TAIPED’s Rihardos Labiris and ELPE chairman Stathis Tsotsoros, the energy minister calls for the immediate replacement of DEPA Chief executive Dimitris Tzortzis (photo), proposing Velissarios Dotsis, a former DEPA chief, as an interim boss.

Call for early elections prompts understaffing issue at RAE

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, faces the danger of being left understaffed, despite growing work demands, as a result of the government’s decision for snap elections, expected to take place on July 7.

Prior to this announcement, made by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday night after his ruling Syriza party’s poor showing in the European elections, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis had prepared a legislative amendment intended to offer a six-month extension to work contracts of approximately 55 scientists employed at RAE. Their current contracts are set to expire on June 30.

However, the work extension plan’s ratification is now not possible as a result of the resulting pre-election period.

A RES auction offering investors wind and solar energy capacities, scheduled for July 1, is among the many tasks that need to be handled by RAE in the immediate future.

The job insecurity felt within the ranks at RAE has prompted a number of employees to resign for posts in the private sector.



Hydrocarbon licenses on hold as a result of snap elections

The country’s ambitious hydrocarbon exploration and production plan appears set to be impacted by further delays as a result of the government’s call for snap elections, now expected to take place on July 7.

License agreements signed recently for offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and west of the Peloponnese, will, as a result, not be pushed through for ratification in parliament until after the elections.

An Ionian Sea license has been acquired by a consortium comprising Repsol and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), while ELPE has also taken on Block 10, further south, west of the Peloponnese.

Licenses offered for blocks west and southwest of Crete to a consortium made up of Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE are also set to face delays as a result of the country’s political developments. The triple-member team will need to hold on for several more months before it can begin work at these promising spots. The consortium’s licences, still in the hands of a supervisory committee, have also yet to be ratified in parliament. No action on these is expected prior to the early general elections.

Procedures concerning the formation of a new government and the ensuing summer break will delay the ratification of these agreements until September, experts have estimated.

Investors looking forward to exploration work in the Ionian Sea and off Crete have become well acquainted with the slow-moving ways of Greece and are prepared to remain patient until this latest obstacle is cleared, pundits noted.

The country’s recent administrations have all moved slowly on hydrocarbon licensing matters.


Ptolemaida V sustainability jeopardized by call for elections

The energy ministry’s legislation plan concerning CAT remuneration for the power utility PPC’s Ptolemaida V and an ensuing 10-year agreement that would ensure CATs and sustainability for the prospective unit are now up in the air following last night’s announcement of national elections, expected June 30, by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

The upcoming national elections, announced by the PM following his party Syriza’s disappointing performance in European and municipal elections, validate the concerns of pundits who had feared the CAT plan for PPC and its Ptolemaida V unit could be destabilized by Greece’s political developments.

Greek officials have been under pressure to meet an approaching deadline for EU CATs concerning PPC’s Ptolemaida V facility, now under construction.

Ptolemaida V could still qualify for CATs if Greece manages to adopt a capacity sufficiency system ahead of the CAT mechanism’s launch and an agreement is signed by the end of the year.


PPC lignite units sale to await country’s next administration

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ announcement last night of a pre-election period leading to national elections expected on June 30 effectively ends any hope of an on-schedule completion of power utility PPC’s sale of lignite units.

Participants of the bailout-required disinvestment, which had been relaunched after an initial sale attempt failed to produce a result, were due to submit binding bids by tomorrow. But, given the political developments, the process will now need to be taken on by the country’s next administration.

Political landscape aside, the sale’s participants, troubled by unfavorable conditions,  have appeared unwilling to offer sizable amounts for the PPC units.

Had the PPC sale process not been interrupted by last night’s election announcement, its success would have depended on the government’s ability to handle the political cost of a low-priced sale.

The ongoing effort aiming to liberalize Greece’s electricity market will now most likely need to be re-examined along with a restructuring plan for PPC’s rebound as a sustainable enterprise.

PPC ‘Amynteo closure’ news intended for investors, Brussels

The main power utility PPC’s plan to discuss the closure of its now-expired Amynteo lignite-fired power station ended up not being included on the agenda of a board meeting last Friday, as the company chief Manolis Panagiotakis had announced ahead of the session, the official reason, according to the company boss, being the need for an additional study on the matter.

However, other underlying reasons were at play, it can be safely presumed. Investors eyeing PPC’s bailout-required sale of the Meliti and Megalopoli power stations were one of the audiences targeted by the utility chief’s Amynteo-related announcement, as it is anticipated this plant’s closure will make Meliti and Megalopoli more competitive and generate better sale price prospects. This sale has been relaunched after an initial effort failed to excite investors.

Panagiotakis’ Amynteo announcement was also aimed at the European Commission as an indication of the power utility’s intention to conform amid reports of a launch of infringement procedures by Brussels against Greece for PPC’s overtime usage of the power plant. A 17,500-hour Amynteo lifeline extension offered by the European Commission expired early last winter but the unit is still operating.

Domestic political interests are another factor behind the board’s avoidance of a discussion on Amynteo’s future at last Friday’s PPC meeting. Given the fact that some 1,000 jobs could be lost if Amynteo is shut down, state-controlled PPC would rather delay any talk on the subject until after the upcoming local, regional and European elections.

PPC is not planning an immediate withdrawal of Amynteo. The power plant’s closure is expected in late 2020 or early 2021, when a 32,000-hour extension offered by the government through a ministerial decision last November – as a further extension to Brussels’ 17,500 hours – should expire.

ELPE Arta-Preveza survey hit by local election interests

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s plan to conduct seismic surveys at an onshore license in northwestern Greece’s Arta-Preveza area appears to have run into problems of disproportionate dimensions as a result of resistance by a small number of local residents and other objectors accustomed to opposing such initiatives.

Local authorities, mindful of upcoming municipal elections in May, are paying heed to the danger-mongering of these teams of people, resulting in serious issues for ELPE’s overall hydrocarbon exploration program.

ELPE had already provided local authorities with detailed information supporting the region and its residents would not be impacted in any way by the prospective seismic survey work.

Until recently, local officials, convinced by the ELPE presentation, were prepared to recommend that a license be granted to the petroleum company for its survey work. Instead, local councils of two municipalities in the wider region, Arta and Central Tzoumerka, refused to offer their consent.

As a result, ELPE’s seismic survey plan for Arta-Preveza now appears headed for a delay until after the elections, which will have a knock-on effect on the company’s next scheduled seismic survey, in northern Peloponnese.

Greece must not miss out on the opportunity of discovering major deposits and entering the global petroleum map, which would attract oil majors, industry officials have noted.