Latest court verdict paves way for gas supply cut to troubled ELFE

An Athens Court of First Instance has rejected an appeal made by debt-ridden ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals) seeking a temporary right to continued DEPA (Public Gas Corporation) gas supply and the ability to use postdated checks as payment for these orders.

The verdict paves the way for DEPA to stop supplying gas to ELFE, whose level of debt owed to the gas company has approached 110 million euros.

Last July, while the issue was being examined by a Public Prosecutor, DEPA’s two shareholders – TAIPED, the state privatization fund, and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) – demanded 50 percent cash deposits for future gas supply orders and a reduction of the troubled fertlizers and chemicals producer’s debt owed to the gas company.

ELFE reacted immediately by filing a legal case to a Court of First Instance in Kavala, northern Greece, which delivered a temporary decision ensuring continued gas supply to the industrial producer until legal proceedings were completed.

Then, on August 29, the Court of First Instance in Kavala, decided to make this decision stricter for ELFE by allowing the industrial producer to continue paying deposits for weekly natural gas consumption with postdated checks, as long as these checks are issued by ELFE customers, not the company itself or related companies.

Subsequently, DEPA’s legal team transferred the case to an Athens Court of First Instance, which delivered the latest decision rejecting ELFE’s appeal to keep using postdated checks as payment for DEPA gas supply.

It now appears that ELFE’s gas supply will be cut if the producer is unable to meet the DEPA demand for a 50 percent deposit on gas orders.

Quite a while ago, ELFE transferred its business activities and assets to a number of other companies, two of these being Ellagrolip and PFIC. Probes, including for money laundering, are now in progress.


Court imposes stricter DEPA gas payment terms on ELFE

A Court of First Instance in Kavala, northern Greece, has imposed stricter payment conditions on ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals) for bank checks used by the industrial firm to cover DEPA (Public Gas Corporation) gas bills as a means of ensuring continued natural gas supply to the enterprise’s facilities in the northern city. ELFE’s overdue payments are believed to have now exceeded 106 million euros.

The court’s decision is temporary. A final ruling is expected in two months. ELFE took legal action seeking security measures that would enable continued gas supply.

The court’s preliminary decision essentially upholds a ruling issued on July 11 with certain revisions. As a result, ELFE maintains the right to continue prepayments of weekly natural gas consumption with postdated checks as long as these checks are issued by ELFE customers, not the company itself or related companies.

During yesterday’s hearing, ELFE’s legal team contended that DEPA is exploiting its dominant market position to impose elevated natural gas tariffs on the industrial enterprise. ELFE would be forced to shut down its facilities if DEPA ceased supplying the enterprise with natural gas as it would not have any other supply alternatives, the ELFE legal team claimed.

DEPA officials countered the argument, noting that the natural gas market is now liberalized, making other supply options available. DEPA warned that it could no longer take on the business risk of assuring ELFE’s continued operations as a result of the company’s growing arrears.