Repsol leaving last Greek concession, domestic upstream aspirations fading

Spain’s Repsol is believed to be in the process of abandoning its last remaining hydrocarbon concession in Greece, an Ionian Sea block, even though the company has yet to officially notify EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

It remains to be seen whether ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), Repsol’s partner in the Ionian Sea block, will follow suit and return its share to EDEY. ELPE officials have not clarified the group’s position.

Repsol previously returned to the Greek State its stake in an Etoloakarnania concession along with project partner Energean, and also transferred its stake in an Ioannina block to the Greek upstream company.

Like all major oil groups, Repsol has suffered major financial setbacks as a result of the pandemic and drop in oil prices, serving as catalysts in the company’s decision to restrict its exposure to the upstream sector.

At the beginning of this year, Repsol announced a decision to exit 14 countries, including Greece, from a total of 28 in which the company has held interests.

Upstream players are looking to readjust following the impact of the pandemic and more ambitious climate-change targets, including by the EU.

These developments appear to be shelving Greece’s ambitions for hydrocarbon discoveries following initiatives launched 11 to 12 years ago.

Both ELPE and Energean have requested and received extensions from EDEY for a series of concessions held within Greek territory.

Italgas, Czech Republic’s EPH bid for DEPA Infrastructure

Italy’s gas network operator Italgas and the Czech Republic’s EP INVESTMENT ADVISORS (EPH) met yesterday’s deadline to submit binding bids for the 100 percent sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure, bringing this privatization to its final stretch.

TAIPED, Greece’s privatization fund, will now need to check if the files submitted by the suitors are complete before opening up their respective financial offers.

The privatization fund’s board will inspect the first-stage files, carrying legal documents, at its next meeting, sources informed. If the files are complete, TAIPED will proceed to the next step of opening up the financial offers, but not before some time has elapsed to allow for possible objections.

If the price difference in the financial offers is no more than 15 percent, TAIPED will request improved follow-up bids from both bidders.

The preferred bidder is expected to be announced by the end of August or early September. DG Comp and DG Energy approval will then be required before an agreement can be signed for the transfer, to the winning bidder, of TAIPED’s 65 percent stake control of DEPA Infrastructure and the 35 percent stake held by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE).

The sale of DEPA Infrastructure, controlling the distribution networks of EDA Attiki, covering the wider Athens area, EDA Thess, covering Thessaloniki and Thessaly, as well as DEDA, covering the rest of Greece, will spell the end of the Greek State’s control of the country’s low and medium-pressure natural gas pipelines.

ELPE close to acquiring 32% stake in Cyprus LPG facility

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) is close to acquiring a 32 percent stake in an LPG facility being developed in Cyprus’ Vasiliko area by the Petrolina group, the country’s biggest petroleum company, owned by the Lefkaritis family.

ELPE’s chief executive Andreas Siamisiis is expected to visit Cyprus today for talks on the deal. Both sides are awaiting the European Commission’s approval.

The unit, to be equipped with storage spaces totaling 5,000 square meters and bottling systems to meet the needs of all LPG trading companies on Cyprus, is expected to be ready to operate towards the end of the year.

The ELPE group, which has closely monitored energy-sector developments on Cyprus for quite some time now, has already invested over 150 million euros in the country.

Last year, ELPE made investments for a new petroleum product distribution facility in the Vasiliko area, network modernization, as well as acquisitions for greater trading activity with industrial consumers.

The Petrolina group, founded in 1961 as FINA (Cyprus), was acquired by the Lefkaritis group in 1983 and renamed Lina Ltd before it was named Petrolina (Holdings) Ltd in 1999.

The company now owns liquid-fuel storage and management facilities in Vasiliko, following an investment of more than 80 million euros that was completed several years ago.

In the retail market, Petrolina owns 100 petrol stations operating throughout Cyprus under two company names, Petrolina and Agip.

Petrolina has worked closely, for decades, with Italian giant ENI, an association that includes exclusive import and trading rights for ENI’s lubricants, greases and liquids in the Cypriot market.

Petrolina was listed on the Cypriot stock exchange in December, 2020. Late last year, the company entered the Greek market, acquiring fuel and liquid gas retailer Silk Oil following many months of negotiations.

Greek State to no longer control majority of ELPE board

Privatization fund TAIPED’s deferral, by a week, for May 28, of revisions concerning Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s corporate agreement and green-focused transformation plan highlights the difficulties faced in the effort to find a right balance between the petroleum group’s two main shareholders, the Latsis group’s Paneuropean, holding a 47 percent stake, and the Greek State, holding a 35.5 percent stake.

The Greek State’s presence on ELPE’s 11-member board is expected to be reduced from seven, at present, to four on the new board, following fears of an even smaller presence.

Paneuropean supports the revisions and is expected to endorse them at the general shareholders’ meeting on May 28.

The main opposition Syriza party has intensified its criticism of the government’s handling of the ELPE plan, accusing the administration of putting the Greek State’s interests at stake.

The government will do what it must to ensure the interests of the Greek State as well as ELPE, so that the company may contribute to further economic growth in Greece, energy minister Kostas Skrekas noted earlier this week.

North Macedonia energy business opportunities for local players

Greek companies stand a great chance of gaining further presence in North Macedonia’s energy market through participation in projects and investments promising to contribute to the country’s diversification of energy sources and capture a bigger energy-mix share for green energy, the neighboring country’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev made clear during comments in Athens yesterday.

North Macedonia appears determined to reduce its dependence on Russian fossil fuels and also cut back on carbon emissions, objectives offering investment opportunities for Greek energy groups, currently eyeing the neighboring market as part of plans to increase their business interests abroad.

The North Macedonian leader said yesterday that an agreement concerning the relaunch of Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s Thessaloniki-Skopje oil pipeline is nearing finalization.

“The idea is to have reached an agreement with them by the end of May so that this important pipeline can begin operating,” Zaev remarked.

The oil pipeline’s reopening would be combined with the conversion of ELPE’s North Macedonian OKTA refinery into a petroleum products distribution hub covering the western Balkan region.

ELPE currently operates 27 petrol stations in North Macedonia through its OKTA subsidiary. Also active in Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, the Greek petroleum group operates over 200 petrol stations in the wider region.

Zaev added that North Macedonia is involved in negotiations with a Greek company, presumed to be Mytilineos, for the development of a natural gas-fueled power station in the capital, Skopje. These talks, however, still appear to be at an early stage.

Also this week, Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas told participants of the Delphi Economic Forum that a bilateral agreement for a Greek-North Macedonian gas pipeline interconnection is virtually ready and awaiting the approval of European authorities.

For North Macedonia, this gas pipeline project would end Russia’s monopoly in the country’s gas market, enabling more competitive gas prices and reinforced supply security, while for Greece, the gas pipeline’s development would represent a further step in the country’s objective to transform into a regional gas hub.

Energy investment activity rising, focus on RES projects, energy transition

Investment activity in the domestic energy sector is rising with major deals being negotiated, the main focus being on renewables and the energy transition, participants at yesterday’s Delphi Economic Forum made clear.

This activity promises significant growth for all RES technologies, even the more innovative, such as offshore wind farms and energy storage units.

Major energy players are moving to capitalize on opportunities that are emerging as the country pushes ahead with its decarbonization effort. Also, investor talks concerning domestic and international partnerships, the latter promising to secure expertise in sectors such as offshore wind farms, are in progress.

Power utility PPC, moving ahead with RES investments, aims to have launched projects with a total capacity of 1.5 GW by 2023. The utility’s redevelopment plan for the country’s two lignite-dependent regions, Ptolemaida, in the north, and Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, is in progress.

PPC plans to invest 3.4 billion euros on RES project development in these regions, and an upgrade of their distribution networks, Konstantinos Mavros, chief executive of PPC Renewables, a PPC subsidiary, told the forum.

PPC is also expected to establish partnerships facilitating its entry into the offshore wind market. In addition, the company also aims to have formed a joint venture with German power company RWE by the end of summer for development of RES projects totaling 2 GW.

Elsewhere, energy company Mytilineos is also preparing a strategic alliance with a major international group for its entry into the offshore wind farm sector.

Mytilineos is also close to completing, this year, a major post-lignite investment in natural gas-fueled electricity generation. In addition, the company plans to develop 300 MW in wind farms and 1.5 GW in solar farms over the next two years.

Furthermore, Mytilineos plans to develop 20 energy storage projects, each with 50 MW capacity, by utilizing its immense knowhow gained in this field through involvement in such projects abroad.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) is preparing RES and digital transition projects and will concurrently focus efforts to reduce carbon emissions and develop more eco-friendly products, including biofuels and hydrogen.

The Copelouzos group is nearing an investment decision on the development of a natural gas-fueled power station in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece. A decision is expected this summer. The group is currently engaged in talks with neighboring North Macedonia’s power utility for its possible entry into this project as a minority partner.

As for networks, power grid operator IPTO has planned numerous projects as part of a ten-year investment plan worth five billion euros. The operator anticipates new RES project penetration of 17 GW, a forecast exceeding the National Energy and Climate Plan’s goals.

DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, has put together a 3 billion-euro investment plan for the two next regulatory periods, each four years long. Projects include network undergrounding, service upgrades and improvement, new technologies, as well as grid digitalization projects.

ELPE transformation ending State’s board majority

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE is moving ahead with a full transformation, both in terms of investments, taking a turn focused on green energy, as well as administratively, through a revision to soon nullify a 2003 agreement that has given the Greek State, holding a 35.5 percent stake, majority rights, represented by 7 of 13 board members.

Legislation ratified last year and set to be implemented on July 17 will give company shareholders board representation rights reflecting their respective stakes in ELPE.

Besides the Greek State’s 35.5 percent share, the Latsis group’s Paneuropean holds a 47 percent stake in ELPE, while the remaining 17.5 percent is free-floating.

The company is scheduled to hold a general shareholders’ meeting on June 30, when a new board is expected to be voted in.

It is believed that ELPE’s administrative duties will be taken on by a new holding company, now in the making, possibly with its headquarters abroad. Its board membership is expected to be trimmed to 11 from ELPE’s 13 at present.

The ELPE group’s subsidiaries as well as stakes in various companies, including refineries, petroleum product trading companies, namely EKO and BP, as well as ELPE Renewables, energy supplier Elpedison and plastic packaging firm Diaxon, will all be transferred to the new holding company, sources have informed.

ELPE to abandon its onshore block licenses in country’s west

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has decided to limit its presence in Greece’s upstream sector, driven by unfavorable market developments, sources have informed.

Spain’s Repsol recently also opted to surrender upstream rights in Greece.

ELPE intends to return to the Greek State its exploration and production licenses for two onshore blocks, Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese, sources noted. The Greek petroleum company has deemed exploration activities in these specific areas as no longer being feasible, the sources added.

The company, in reaching its decision to withdraw from the Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese blocks, also took into account negative reactions by local community groups as well as a series of bureaucratic obstacles, sources said.

The Greek State’s failure to deal with a lack of infrastructure at the port of Patras, close to these blocks in Greece’s west, is seen as a key factor in ELPE’s decision to withdraw from the Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese blocks, despite promising seismic research results.

ELPE does not intend to surrender its interests in offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete. It is a co-member of consortiums with Total and ExxonMobil for these licenses.

The government is placing emphasis on renewable energy sources, foreign minister Nikos Dendias has just told Arab News.

 

Greek enterprises face April 27 date for hydrogen project proposals

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

DEPA Commercial privatization on hold, awaiting ELFE dispute

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas’ admission of concern over the impact, on DEPA Commercial’s privatization prospects, of the gas company’s ongoing legal dispute with ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals) increases the likelihood of this sale being deferred until late this year, if not later, sources contend.

The minister, speaking at Power & Supply Forum, an online event staged earlier this week by energypress, admitted being troubled by DEPA Commercial’s unresolved legal battle with “a major consumer”.

DEPA Commercial has challenged an Athens Court of First Instance verdict that ordered the company to return 61 million euros to ELFE for alleged overcharging between 2010 and 2015. The appeal has been deferred for September and may be jointly heard with a separate case involving the two companies over a similar amount of unpaid receivables that is allegedly owed by the fertilizer and chemicals producer to DEPA.

The government will most likely wait for the outcome of this legal dispute to be settled before taking any further steps in the DEPA Commercial privatization, planned to offer the Greek State’s 65 percent stake of the company and a 35 percent stake held by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE).

Regardless of the outcome at the appeals court, this legal wrangle is expected to be taken all the way to the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, the sources noted.

Should ELFE be vindicated in the overcharging case, other DEPA customers – even bigger consumers than ELFE – can also be expected to also take legal action, which could end up costing the gas company as much as a billion euros in refunds, the sources said.

Cancellation of the current privatization procedure and an ensuing company split of DEPA Commercial that would enable the sale of subsidiary Fysiko Aerio/Hellenic Energy Company is an unlikely prospect, the sources added.

Motor Oil buys Fortress 240MW RES units, ELPE also a bidder

Petroleum company Motor Oil, a member of the Vardinogiannis group, has acquired a 240-MW wind energy portfolio from private equity fund Fortress for a sum estimated at 123.5 million euros, renewable energy market sources have informed.

The Vardinogiannis group yesterday announced this acquisition, comprised of 220 MW in existing wind energy units and a 20-MW wind energy project now under construction, without naming the seller.

Motor Oil was named the preferred bidder following a two-round tender staged by Fortress that included Canadian fund Cubico in the second round, the sources informed.

The majority of this portfolio’s wind farms are located in central and northern Greece.

Interestingly, fellow Greek petroleum company Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) also participated in the tender but did not make it past the first round, the sources said.

Both Motor Oil and ELPE have set ambitious goals for the addition of RES units to their respective production capacities.

Motor Oil, which had set an objective to build a RES portfolio of more than 300 MW over a two-year period, is already there given its existing installed capacity – prior to this acquisition – which exceeds 100 MW.

Had ELPE added the Fortress wind energy farms to its portfolio, it, too, would have taken a big step towards achieving its RES objective, set at 500-MW. The group is currently developing a 200-MW solar farm in the west Macedonia area, northern Greece.

Fortress, represented in Greece by local associate Nostira, had bought the aforementioned portfolio in September, 2018 from the Libra group, headed by shipowner George Logothetis.

 

Spain’s Repsol also exiting Ioannina license, to be fully held by Energean

Spain’s Repsol is continuing to disinvest its hydrocarbon interests in the Greek market in the wake of a return to the Greek State of its licensing rights for a block in Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece, the company’s latest move being a plan to withdraw from a license concerning a block in Ioannina, also in the northwest.

Repsol, which formed a partnership with Energean Oil & Gas for the Ioannina block, holds a 60 percent stake in this project, now at a pre-drilling stage, as an exploratory step.

Repsol has informed EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, of its decision to withdraw from the Ioannina block, according to sources. The Spanish petroleum firm’s 60 percent stake will be transferred to Greek partner Energean, currently holder of the license’s other 40 percent, the sources added.

The Spanish company’s decisions on Greece are part of a wider disinvestment strategy aiming to reduce the firm’s international exposure to hydrocarbon exploration and production activities, sources explained.

Energean will seek a deadline extension, from EDEY, for drilling at the Ioannina license as it intends to find a new partner, sources informed. The Greek company remains interested in exploring the area’s hydrocarbon potential, the sources added.

Repsol’s intentions concerning an offshore block in the Ionian Sea, for which it has formed a 50-50 joint venture with Hellenic Petroleum, remain unclear.

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.

Energy privatization plans delayed by negative conditions

The government has decided to slam the brakes on procedures for major energy-sector privatizations, preferring to defer bidding deadlines as a result of a series of administrative hurdles and external factors, exacerbated by challenges and uncertainties caused by the pandemic over the past year.

Binding-bid deadlines for the sales of two gas utility DEPA offshoots, DEPA Commercial and DEPA Infrastructure, initially planned for this month by privatization fund TAIPED, will now be reset for early autumn, sources have informed.

Lockdown measures have prevented possible buyers from visiting the DEPA Commercial and DEPA Infrastructure headquarters and facilities as part of their due diligence procedures.

In addition, an ongoing legal battle between DEPA Commercial and ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals) has also unsettled potential buyers. According to sources, investors are demanding protection in the form of guarantees should any court verdict require DEPA Commercial to compensate ELFE over a gas-pricing dispute.

As for issues surrounding the DEPA Infrastructure sale, Italy’s Eni, currently holding a 49 percent stake in EDA THESS, a DEPA Infrastructure subsidiary distributing to the Thessaloniki and Thessaly areas, wants to sell its stake. Officials are now examining a solution that would enable the DEPA Infrastructure privatization to be completed and followed up by the sale of Eni’s 49 percent stake in EDA THESS.

TAIPED’s announcement of second-round qualifiers in a tender offering development and operation of an underground gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece is expected in April. But the overall procedure will not be completed until next year.

A privatization plan for ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) has been put on hold given the unfavorable conditions surrounding the global oil industry at present.

ELPE posting results amid strong pressure felt by petroleum industry

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), to post financial results today amid the pandemic’s adverse conditions, seen also impacting the global petroleum industry throughout 2021, is expected to announce adjusted losses of 14 million euros for 4Q in 2020, following a profit of 24 million euros in the equivalent period a year earlier, according to an Optima Bank estimate.

The petroleum group’s adjusted EBITDA for 4Q is expected to be 62 million euros, a 48 percent reduction from the previous year.

As for 2020, overall, ELPE’s adjusted EBITDA is expected to be 318 million euros, a 44 percent reduction. Adjusted losses are expected to be 1.5 million euros following a profit of 182 million euros in 2019.

The petroleum group intends to move ahead with a transformation plan and green-energy investment plans this year.

ELPE, as an initial goal, aims to develop a RES portfolio totaling 300 MW capacity in 2021 and 600 MW by 2025.

The corporate group has already begun work on a 204-MW project in Kozani, northern Greece, following a takeover deal.

Any prospect of a recovery by the global petroleum industry appears distant. Many facilities around the world have continued to restrict their operations.

A recent Wood Mackenzie report projected the European refining industry will register losses measuring 1.4 million barrels per day until 2023 as a result of the pandemic’s ongoing lockdown measures.

At least two refineries in the Mediterranean region are currently examining the prospect of closing down.

PPC preparing sustainability-linked bond issue, Greece’s first

Influenced by the global investment community’s turn towards investments in eco-friendly energy, power utility PPC is preparing to issue a Sustainability-Linked Bond, a new financial tool reflecting this investor trend, within the first half of 2021.

The initiative promises to make PPC the first company in Greece to employ such a financial tool and one of just a few internationally.

The SLB is more elaborate than existing green bonds, linked to specific projects, as it is aligned with the wider sustainability prospects of bond issuers.

PPC, which has yet to set a date for its planned SLB issue, will commit to improving its sustainability performance over a predetermined period through CO2 emission reductions at an increasing rate, as specified in its new business plan.

Companies with lower emission levels represent lower-risk investments for investors, which enables green-oriented enterprises to achieve better borrowing terms.

Even so, PPC will not necessarily achieve any great interest rate improvement through an SLB issue, financing officials have pointed out.

However, looking ahead beyond the issue, a solid performance by the utility’s SLB in secondary-market trading would enable PPC to borrow at a lower cost should it return to capital markets at a future date.

The power utility’s credit rating is BB- while, just a year ago, the company was struggling to remain afloat. Much work still lies ahead before PPC is transformed into the dynamic eco-friendly company described in its new business plan.

TERNA Energy was the country’s first company to issue a green bond with a 60 million-euro issue in 2017 for capital that was utilized in renewable energy and waste management investments. The company made a follow-up move in 2019, raising 150 million euros at 2.6 percent through a green bond issue that was oversubscribed by over four times.

Petroleum group ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), aiming to reduce its carbon footprint by 2030, is also considering green bonds as a financial tool.

Total, ExxonMobil, ELPE delay Crete surveys for next winter

A decision by the three-member consortium comprising Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) to conduct seismic surveys at two offshore blocks south and west of Crete in the winter of 2021-2022, instead of this winter, highlights the upstream market’s negative climate, both in Greece and internationally.

Upstream players, drastically cutting down on investments costs amid the crisis, have cancelled scores of investment plans, especially those concerning the development of new fields.

Based on the terms of its contract, the Total-ExxonMobil-ELPE consortium also had the opportunity to conduct seismic surveys at its Cretan offshore blocks this winter.

It should be pointed out that the consortium has yet to receive environmental approval for these blocks. Nor have these slots been included in an annual workplan delivered by EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

Even so, Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE do not appear prepared, under the current conditions, to increase their investment risk in the region.

Repsol-Energean abandon rights for Etoloakarnania block

A consortium comprised of Spanish petroleum group Repsol and Energean Oil & Gas has surrendered its hydrocarbon exploitation and production rights for on onshore license in the Etoloakarnania area, northwestern Greece, the partners informed EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, last Friday, sources have revealed.

The partners attributed this decision to the sharp drop in oil prices that has made upstream investments unfeasible, as well as their environmental footprint efforts.

Repsol is also preparing to withdraw its interests from an offshore block in the Ionian Sea through a license it shares with Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE).

In addition, the Spanish group is reconsidering its interests in a license for an onshore block in Ioaninna, also in Greece’s northwest, sources informed. Repsol holds a 60 percent stake in this license, the other 40 percent belonging to Energean Oil & Gas. The partners face an April deadline for an investment decision concerning initial drilling.

Three months earlier, Repsol, through a strategic business plan covering 2021 to 2025, announced exploration and production investment cuts worth 700 million dollars, annually. The company plans to focus its activities in 14 countries, not including Greece.

Spain’s Repsol on verge of exiting Greek upstream market

Spanish petroleum firm Repsol, a member of consortiums holding licenses to three fields in Greece, is on the verge of leaving the country’s upstream market as a part of a wider strategic adjustment prompted by the oil crisis and the pandemic, developments that have impacted exploration plans, as well as a company plan to reduce its environmental footprint, sources have informed.

The upstream industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has driven down prices and demand. The EU’s climate-change policies are another key factor behind Repsol’s decision.

Repsol is believed to have decided to significantly reduce the number of countries in which it is currently present for hydrocarbon exploration and production, the intention being to limit operations to the more lucrative of fields.

All three fields in Repsol’s Greek portfolio are still at preliminary research stages and do not offer any production assurances, meaning they will most probably be among the first to be scrapped by the company from its list of projects.

Respol formed a partnership with Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for offshore exploration in the Ionian Sea. Repsol is the operator in this arrangement. A license secured by the two partners for this region in 2018 was approved in Greek Parliament a year later.

Also, in 2017, Repsol agreed to enter a partnership with Energean Oil & Gas, acquiring 60 percent stakes, and the operator’s role, for onshore blocks in Ioannina and Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece.

Repsol maintains interests in over 40 countries, producing approximately 700,000 barrels per day.

EBRD: Green projects in Greece a priority, RES-based economic recovery

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is strongly interested in Greek energy market investments, Andreea Moraru, the bank’s head of Greece and Cyprus, has stressed in an interview with energypress.

The EBRD official spoke extensively on significant investment opportunities being created by the energy transition.

Since 2015, the EBRD has invested over four billion euros in Greece, participating in numerous major projects, Moraru informed, noting its recent support for power utility PPC, an investment worth 160 million euros, one of the bank’s largest, to cover customer payment volatility following the outbreak of the pandemic, exemplifies EBRD’s strong support for Greece.

The full interview follows:

What is the role of the EBRD compared to that of other banking institutions? 

The EBRD is a development bank committed to furthering progress towards ‘market-oriented economies and the promotion of private and entrepreneurial initiative. Our role is to be complementary to the commercial banks, to work alongside them and to support them.

Αdditionality is among the founding principles underlying our work and the particular support and contribution that the EBRD brings to an investment project which is not available from commercial sources of finance. Alongside transition and sound Banking, it is one of the three founding principles underlying our work. By ensuring that we are additional in everything we do, we ensure that our support for the private sector makes a contribution beyond that available on the market and does not crowd out other private sector actors.

Whenever we consider financing a project, we analyze whether similar financing can be obtained from private sector local banks or non-banking institutions.

Many of our markets are relatively high risk, and the private sector will only lend for short periods of time or at such high rates as to make the project unfeasible. For major new projects in the field of infrastructure, for example, longer-term financing may not be available on reasonable terms or conditions. This is where the EBRD fits in.

Additionality can also be non-financial in nature, where EBRD’s interventions contribute to better project outcomes that would not have been required or offered by commercial financiers. This can include the provision of comfort to clients and investors by mitigating non-financial risks, such as country, regulatory, project, economic cycle or political risks. Additionality may also be derived from the EBRD’s involvement in helping projects and clients achieve higher standards than would have been required by the market, such as through sharing its expertise on better corporate governance or above ‘business as usual’ environmental or inclusion standards.

Do you consider the energy sector in Greece to be suitable to contribute to the development and reconstruction of the Greek economy? For what reasons?

Absolutely. In general, the EBRD’s vision for the energy sector is of a partnership between industry, governments and consumers that delivers the essential energy needs of societies and economies in a manner that is sustainable, reliable and at the lowest possible cost.

In Greece the energy sector is embarking upon its biggest transformation yet, moving away from its reliance on lignite (c. 20% of total electricity production in 2019) to renewables and a smaller fleet of significantly less carbon intensive gas generating units. The NECP aims to achieve reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 55% by 2030 compared to 2005, planned to be achieved through: (i) decommissioning of all 4 GW of lignite-fired generation capacity by 2028 (3.4GW by 2023), (ii) 8.7 GW of new renewable generation capacity to added by 2030, reaching a total of 19 GW, and (iii) 2 GW of new gas generation capacity added for system support and security. The country remains committed to implementing the NECP as planned despite the negative impacts the CV19 crisis is expected to have on the Greek economy in 2020 and beyond.

Greece’s withdrawal from coal is a fundamental transformation that will create substantial sector and social challenges with the following broad implications: (1) constructing large volumes of low carbon generating capacity in order to ensure energy security in an increasing electrified economy, (2) reengineering the country’s transmission and distribution networks to reflect the additional penetration of distributed, intermittent renewable energy, and (3) addressing the social and economic impacts of the closure of a major part of its existing energy infrastructure, i.e. ensuring a just and inclusive transition.

We have supported many energy projects so far, especially renewables, working together with leading companies, such as GEK Terna, Mytilineos and HELPE among others.

A recent milestone is our support for the largest renewable energy project in Greece and the largest solar energy project in south-eastern Europe to date, the new solar park in Kozani. In 2017, we also approved a framework committing up to €300 million to finance renewable energy investments in the country.

The main reasons why this sector is important for the development of the Greek economy and thus our participation, is first to help the decarbonization of the country and the transition to a greener economy, as well as to strengthen local linkages and regional integration.

What is the EBRD’S philosophy about its presence in the Greek economy and especially in the energy sector?

In Greece in particular, supporting sustainable energy and infrastructure is among our top priorities. In fact supporting sustainable energy and infrastructure is one of the pillars of the newly approved country strategy. Our investment strategy in the energy sector going forward will aim at further liberalization and diversification of the energy market focusing on renewables and increased renewable energy capacity and a more diversified energy mix to promote decarbonization of the economy. EBRD could support a second phase of feasible renewable energy projects with project preparation / technical assistance and financing (biomass and biogas plants, use of waste heat in greenhouses for high value-added agriculture, electricity storage facilities, green hydrogen production plants and other forms of energy storage.

We see that it’s challenging to meet EU climate goals in Greece and our goal is to support the country with that. Our approach and philosophy is in line with the National Energy and Climate Plan and we are very glad the Greek government is committed to close all lignite plants. We need to keep this momentum, despite the current Covid-19 crisis, and turn the country greener.

One good example is our recent support for PPC (DEI). This has been one of our largest investments (€160 million) and the first time we supported the public sector in Greece. This facility supports PPC’s working capital needs at a time of customer payment volatility following the outbreak of the crisis. It also strengthens the resilience of the electricity sector as a whole by ensuring the stability of essential utility supplies and maintaining the momentum towards decarbonization.

What are the characteristics of private companies that could apply to be supported by the EBRD?

When we consider financing a project we analyze different aspects, such as how it supports the green economy, if it promotes women or youth inclusion, if it can enhance the competitiveness and resilience of the Greek economy etc. We look at the financial strength of the project as we operate according to sound banking principles. We cannot finance companies in certain sectors like defence-related activities, tobacco, substances banned by international law or gambling facilities.  As I have already mentioned, we also need to be additional.

We work in a wide range of sectors, from energy, infrastructure, manufacturing, property, tourism, agriculture to trade and financial institutions. We also support SMEs with business advice, know-how transfer and trainings.

What are your conclusions from your cooperation so far with Greek companies and institutions?

We’re very proud of all our projects in Greece so far. Since commencing our operations in 2015, the Bank has invested more than €4 billion in the country, helping respond to the financial crisis. Against a turbulent political and economic backdrop, the EBRD helped stabilize the financial sector, support private companies through export-oriented growth and lay the foundations for greater private sector participation in critical energy and infrastructure projects that have also strengthened regional integration.

We faced several challenges because of the financial crisis, but this was expected and was exactly the reason why we came to the country. Our main conclusion is that Greek companies have strong potential and very talented workforce, who we’re glad to be working with. The COVID-19 pandemic has abruptly interrupted Greece’s steady recovery, but we’re confident that the country can build back better.

We have an excellent cooperation with the Greek Government whom we are supporting on a number of initiatives.  In late 2020, the EBRD joined forces with the Ministry of Development and Investments of Greece to establish a new public-private partnership (PPP) preparation facility cooperation account, following a request from the Greek authorities. We are also working close with the Ministry of Finance on development of a capital market strategy, a project supported by DG Reform.

What are your plans for the new year?

We will focus on supporting the recovery of the Greek economy, by helping with the immediate needs of the Greek businesses because of coronavirus, as well as with their long-term growth plans. Green projects, including in the energy sector, will be our priority, but we’ll also be active in other sectors. We’ll continue supporting the banking sector, too.

Do you consider the investment risk in our country increased after the great economic crisis and in the light of the current crisis due to a pandemic?

The financial crisis had a strong impact on Greece, but we recognize that the Greek economy had started recovering and growing in the recent years. It’s true that COVID-19 containment measures are likely to depress economic output and cause particular disruption to the tourism industry, reversing the economic recovery and hindering investments in the near term, not only in Greece, but also in most countries. There are still many things that need to be improved in the country to attract more investors, but we don’t consider the investment risk much higher than it used to be. The Greek economy can recover after the pandemic.

 

EBRD reports close to €800 million investment in Greece in 2020

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) stepped up its investments in Greece in 2020 to address immediate needs caused by the coronavirus pandemic and to create the foundations for a recovery with a focus on building back better economies.

Continuing its support for the Greek economy in 2020, the Bank made €797 million new investments in 17 projects, compared to €571 million in 13 projects in 2019, putting Greece in the EBRD’s top five countries of investment last year. 

Andreea Moraru, EBRD Director for Greece, said: “We are very proud to contribute to the robust response of the Greek economy to the crisis, supporting the recovery, helping local businesses with their needs and facilitating the transition to greener economic activities.” 

The Bank provided a senior unsecured loan of up to €160 million power utility PPC. The facility will support PPC’s working capital needs at a time of customer payment volatility following the outbreak of the crisis. It will also strengthen the resilience of the electricity sector as a whole by ensuring the stability of essential utility supplies and maintaining the momentum towards decarbonization. 

The EBRD also stepped up its efforts to help the Greek private sector by investing €57.5 euros in GEK TERNA’s successful issuance of a seven-year €500 million bond. GEK TERNA S.A. is the holding company for a group active in concessions, renewable energy, thermal energy and construction, incorporated in Greece. 

This issuance was the largest bond transaction to be listed to date on the Athens Stock Exchange and the first corporate issuance in the country since the outbreak of the pandemic. The proceeds will be used to refinance secured commercial loans with longer tenors and reduced financing costs, enabling a corporate transformation that will optimize the capital structure of GEK TERNA. 

Facilitating the transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, EBRD launched its just transition initiative linking the transition to a low-carbon economy with inclusive economic development. One of the first projects under this approach was the Bank’s €75 million investment in the successful Eurobond tap issuance by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), in support of a new solar photovoltaic plant in Greece, the largest solar energy project in south-eastern Europe to date. 

The total funds of €100 million raised will enable ELPE to finance the construction of 18 solar photovoltaic (PV) plants with a total installed capacity of 204 MW in Kozani, western Macedonia, the country’s most coal-dependent region. The solar park will be built close to existing coal-fired power plants that are being phased out and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 320,000 tons annually.

In addition, the EBRD invested €50 million in the first senior preferred (SP) green bond issuance by the National Bank of Greece (NBG), combining support for capital market development and for the green economy in Greece. It was the first green bond issuance by a Greek bank and the first SP instrument to be issued by a Greek financial institution. 

Together with other investors, the EBRD invested in a €186.4 million securitization transaction of automotive leases, originated by Olympic Commercial and Tourist Enterprises S.A. (Avis), the leading car leasing company in Greece and master franchisee of the global car rental company Avis Budget Group.  

The transaction was an important milestone for the Greek securitization market as it was the largest issuance by a non-bank originator and the first auto lease asset-backed security transaction in the country with a sustainable and green element. 

Part of the proceeds will be used by Avis for the replacement of its existing fleet with lower CO2 emissions, electric and hybrid vehicles, helping the company to reduce its diesel footprint.

In late 2020, the EBRD joined forces with the Ministry of Development and Investments of Greece to establish a new public-private partnership (PPP) preparation facility cooperation account, following a request from the Greek authorities. 

The EBRD will manage the facility, which will provide high-quality, client-oriented project preparation, training and advisory services, policy support and institutional strengthening activities related to the infrastructure sector in Greece. The Ministry will fund the activities of the facility with €20 million. The project pipeline will mostly be in the social infrastructure sector (education and health), sustainable urban infrastructure, and water and waste management.

Keeping vital trade flows going, the Bank provided a €20 million factoring facility to ABC Factors under its Trade Facilitation Program (TTP). Building on the EBRD’s cooperation with Alpha Bank, the parent company of ABC Factors, the facility will enable the factoring subsidiary to further expand its portfolio of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and local corporate clients by providing funding for domestic and international factoring transactions. Greece remains the EBRD’s most active country under TFP, with close to €320 million trade transactions in 2020.  

In 2020, the EBRD started 41 new advisory projects with Greek SMEs in various areas, such as strategic and business planning, marketing and e-commerce, operational efficiency, financial management and digitalization, and delivered five online export training seminars to more than 100 participants. Donor funding from Greece, as well as from the European Union through the European Investment Advisory Hub of the European Investment Bank, has been crucial. 

Papoutsanis, a leading Greek manufacturer of soap and liquid cosmetics, became the first Greek firm to join the EBRD’s Blue Ribbon program, which combines business advice and finance for companies that stand out for their market leadership and high-growth potential. 

Furthermore, the Board of Directors of the EBRD approved a new strategy for Greece, which will guide the bank’s investment and policy engagement in the country during the next five years. 

The EBRD responded to the coronavirus pandemic with record investment of €11 billion in 2020 through 410 projects. This represents a 10 per cent increase in annual business investment relative to 2019, when the bank provided €10.1 billion to finance 452 projects.

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.

North Macedonia eyeing 25% stake in Alexandroupoli gas facility, PM says

North Macedonia may participate with a 25 percent stake in a natural gas facility in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, that promises to offer a production capacity double the size of the country’s gas shortage, totaling 2 GWh, North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has told state broadcaster Alsat.

Also, bureaucratic procedures concerning the development of a natural gas pipeline from Greece to North Macedonia are close to being completed, while talks with Okta, a Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) subsidiary, for a relaunch of the company’s oil pipeline running from Thessaloniki to Skopje are continuing, Zaev noted.

The North Macedonian leader also expressed an interest for the country to participate as a shareholder in the company to develop the Alexandroupoli FSRU, noting the country plans to utilize natural gas for all state facilities as “American LNG is far cheaper”.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU is expected to facilitate supply of American LNG to the Balkan region.

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.

 

ELPE seeking greater North Macedonia market share

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, aiming to capture a bigger share of the North Macedonian market, is currently negotiating for extrajudicial solutions that would enable the reopening of a company oil pipeline linking Thessaloniki with Skopje.

In an effort to help resolve this issue, ELPE has proposed a series of RES investments in the neighboring country as well as a conversion of its Okta refinery into a petroleum products hub facilitating distribution to the western Balkans.

December will be a crucial month for the negotiations between ELPE and North Macedonia as a verdict is scheduled to be delivered on an ELPE compensation request for 32 million dollars for a breach, by the neighboring country, of contractual obligations concerning minimum supply amounts between 2008 and 2011.

The North Macedonian oil market is dominated by two Russian companies, Gazprom and Lukoil, both gaining further ground. Gazprom supplies fuel products to North Macedonia via Serbia and Lukoil does so from Bulgaria.

US officials, seeking to inhibit the dominance of Russian energy firms in North Macedonia, have intervened to help resolve the country’s differences with ELPE.

Just days ago, a meeting on ELPE’s effort to reopen the oil pipeline was held in Thessaloniki during an official visit to the city by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. US government officials, Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and North Macedonian government deputies participated.

For quite some time now, Washington has made clear its stance aiming to limit Europe’s energy dependence on Russian companies and, as a result, is promoting the ELPE oil pipeline as an alternative supply route into North Macedonia.

 

JTF plan includes 16 post-lignite projects budgeted at €2.5bn

The total cost of sixteen investment proposals concerning the decarbonization of Greece’s lignite-dependent areas included in the country’s Just Transition Fund plan, just released by the energy ministry for public consultation until October 31, is estimated between 2.3 and 2.5 billion euros.

The plan, offering project description and cost details, includes eleven proposals for west Macedonia, in northern Greece, and five proposals for Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese.

The proposals for west Macedonia include 2-GW solar farm projects by power utility PPC.

The power utility is currently developing a 230-MW solar farm budgeted at 133 million euros.

A Solaris Bus & Coach project for a RES-based hydrogen unit budgeted at one billion euros is also among the eleven proposals for west Macedonia, as is a 250-MW energy storage project by Eunice, to cost 280 million euros.

The five Megalopoli proposals included in Greece’s JTF plan include PPC solar farms with a capacity of 50 MW and budgeted at 250 million euros; a pharmaceutical production facility to cost 90 million euros and create 400 jobs; a smart-technology livestock and animal feed farm budgeted at 40 million euros; a theme park for entertainment and educational purposes to cost 40 million euros; as well as other public-sector investments worth 30 million euros.

 

 

 

NSRF help for decarbonization until recovery fund is launched

Greece’s decarbonization effort will, for the time being, need to rely on the National Strategic Reference Framework for EU subsidy support until member state objections and disagreements over the pandemic-related Recovery Fund are resolved to enable its launch.

The European Commission and certain member states from eastern Europe, including Hungary and Poland, appear set for a new round of recovery fund negotiations following objections raised over terms set in July.

More affluent member states such as the Netherlands and Finland have made milder complaints, noting the summer agreement’s handout plan is too lenient.

A January 1 start for the recovery plan appears increasingly unlikely as a result of these disputes.

A delay would impact anticipated recovery-fund financial support for pivotal decarbonization efforts in Greece, including related public road projects. Company-funded projects such as solar energy farms to be developed by power utility PPC and Hellenic Petroleum ELPE will not be impacted.

In a worst-case scenario concerning the recovery fund’s date of launch, projects will need to entirely depend on the new National Strategic Reference Framework for subsidy support through a transitional program covering 2021 to 2023, well-informed sources told energypress.

Projects that would be eligible for subsidy support through this transitional program are budgeted at a total of 250 million euros, according to an initial estimate.

They include PPC and ELPE solar energy farm plans; PPC’s Ptolemaida V power station, currently under construction; as well as PPC’s post-lignite investments.

 

ELPE negotiating reopening of North Macedonia oil pipeline

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, Greek government and North Macedonian officials have begun talks aiming for the reopening of an oil pipeline linking ELPE’s Thessaloniki refinery with the company’s Okta refinery in the neighboring country through an extrajudicial settlement by the end of the year.

The issue was discussed at a meeting in Thessaloniki yesterday, held on the sidelines of a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

At the meeting, the ELPE and North Macedonian government officials appeared keen on achieving an out-of-court settlement, sources informed.

The Greek petroleum group is seeking compensation of 32 million dollars for a breach, by the neighboring country, of contractual obligations concerning minimum supply amounts between 2008 and 2011.

ELPE has already won an older case, on the same issue, at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris for compensation worth 52 million dollars. This verdict was delivered in 2007, three years after the case was filed.

The Greek and North Macedonian sides, encouraged by the US, agreed to form a committee to work, until mid-October, on a solution that could enable the oil pipeline to reopen following a seven-year interruption, sources informed.

The officials have set a deadline to reopen the pipeline by the end of the year, sources added.

ELPE has completed all technical work needed for the oil pipeline’s relaunch, sources said. The pipeline’s use in place of oil tankers would offer drastic transportation cost cuts.

The ELPE officials updated North Macedonia’s government officials on the company’s investment plan for the neighboring country, sources said. It is believed to include RES investments and a conversion of ELPE’s Okta facilities into a petroleum products hub that would serve the western Balkans.

ELPE is already present in Serbia and Montenegro and is now targeting the markets of Albania and Kosovo for supply of ready-to-use petroleum products.

The oil pipeline stopped operating in 2013 after ELPE deemed its Okta refining activities were no longer feasible. The 213-km pipeline has a 350,000-metric ton capacity.

Until 2013, the pipeline was used to transfer crude oil from ELPE’s Thessaloniki refinery to the Okta unit in Skopje.

Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis chaired yesterday’s meeting, which involved the participation of secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou; deputy minister for economic diplomacy Kostas Fragogiannis; ELPE president Giannis Papathanasiou; ELPE chief executive Andreas Siamisiis; North Macedonian government deputies Liupko Nikolovski and Fatmit Bitikji; the country’s economy minister Kreshnik Bekteshi; US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon; and the US Ambassador to North Macedonia Kate Marie Byrnes.

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.