DEPA Infrastructure sale facing hurdle on final stretch

The yet-to-be-finalized sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure, acquired by Italgas, Europe’s second largest gas distributor, has encountered a hurdle on the final stretch as a result of certification issues raised by RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The unexpected issues faced by this privatization, promising to provide 733 million euros to TAIPED, the country’s privatization fund, are serious and threaten to derail a sale and purchase agreement signed last December by the two sellers, the Greek State and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), and the Italian buyer.

The sale’s procedure had progressed swiftly, leading to competition committee approval, but events over the past few days, instigated by RAE’s change of stance on the certification conditions of DEPA Infrastructure’s three subsidiaries, the gas distributors EDA Attiki, EDA THESS and DEDA, have suddenly led to confusion, bringing the sale to a standstill.

RAE has offered conditional certification for the three subsidiaries, setting terms that did not exist in the lead-up to the sale and its conditions, according to sources.

Consequently, certification offered to the subsidiaries will not be considered valid if the buyer proceeds with an equity capital increase within three years of the DEPA Infrastructure sale’s finalization. Also, the agendas of all three subsidiaries will need to remain unchanged for their certification to remain valid, according to the sources.

TAIPED officials are believed to have been angered by these initiatives, considering them to be beyond RAE’s authority. Officials at Greece’s finance and energy ministries, as well as Italgas, have also been annoyed by RAE’s decision.

TAIPED and Italgas officials are believed to be engaged in talks in search of a compromise solution.

 

ELPE, Motor Oil decide to cut Russian oil imports

Greece’s two refineries, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Motor Oil, are moving ahead with plans to replace Russian crude oil imports with orders from alternative sources.

Both energy groups have planned ahead of the EU’s proposal for a ban of all oil imports from Russia by the end of this year, company officials have informed. Reduced reliance on Russian oil imports has been a part of their strategies, whose implementation began last year, the officials added.

Neither energy group has been overexposed to Russian oil imports. Motor Oil’s Russian oil imports, over the years, have represented between 5 to 7 percent of its total oil imports, while ELPE’s Russian oil imports in 2021 reached 18 percent of the group’s total, according to its annual results.

Motor Oil’s deputy managing director Petros Tzannetakis informed a teleconference with analysts last month that the energy group had cut Russian oil imports in the fourth quarter last year.

ELPE’s leadership, which had joined a business delegation accompanying Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on a recent official visit to Saudi Arabia, reached an agreement with Aramco for bigger crude oil purchases, presumably to replace Russian oil.

Sanctions on Russia boost Greece’s upstream prospects

The EU’s revised natural gas strategy, seeking alternative solutions as a result of sanctions imposed on Russia, has created favorable conditions for Greece’s upstream sector as the Greek market could become a destination for upstream companies operating in Russia and now needing to shift.

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, has forwarded letters to upstream companies already maintaining interests in Greece, informing them of the government’s intentions for a renewed, more ambitious hydrocarbon strategy.

EDEY also intends to hold meetings with these upstream companies to determine their levels of interest in the Greek market and shape its actions accordingly.

Total and ExxonMobil maintain hydrocarbon interests in Greece as co-members of a consortium holding two offshore licenses, west and southwest Crete. The two companies each have 40 percent stakes in this consortium, Greece’s ELPE holding the other 20 percent.

The consortium, it is believed, aims to conduct seismic surveys next winter at the offshore Crete licenses, still at early exploratory stages.

Besides these two licenses, a further four licenses have been granted in Greece. Energean maintains an onshore block in the Ioannina area, northwestern Greece. The company also holds a 75 percent stake at Block 2, northwest of Corfu, with ELPE as its partner. Also, ELPE holds two offshore licenses in the west, Block 10 and Ionio.

These six licenses could generate total turnover of 250 billion euros by 2030, assuming a 20 percent success rate during exploration, according to a conservative forecast made by EDEY.

Drilling for natural gas to begin with licenses in country’s west

Exploratory drilling for natural gas deposits at a total of six licenses in Greece will begin in the country’s west with two Greek companies, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Energean, leading the way, according to the outcome of talks yesterday at the headquarters of EDEY, Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, which were headed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Drilling is expected to begin in mid-2023 at Energean’s onshore Ioannina block; followed, a year later, by drilling at Block 2, an offshore license northwest of Corfu that is held by Energean (75%) and ELPE (25%), following Total’s withdrawal; as well as Block 10 and Ionio, two offshore licenses held by ELPE.

Two further licenses, west and southwest of Crete, both held by a consortium that has brought together TotalEnergies (40%), ExxonMobil (40%) and ELPE (20%), are regarded as the most promising of all six licenses but, at the same time, are the least developed in terms or preliminary exploratory work. The consortium aims to conduct, next winter, seismic surveys covering 6,500 square kilometers.

Energean has already conducted a seismic survey at its Ioannina block, the most developed of all six licenses in Greece, and has set a drilling target.

ELPE to seek Ionian Sea partner, Crete delayed by case

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE has successfully completed seismic surveys at offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and the Gulf of Kyparissia, west of the Peloponnese, for which the company holds 100 percent exploration and exploitation rights, and once results have emerged, will seek to establish partnerships for these ventures, CEO Andreas Siamisiis noted yesterday.

The chief executive, who was speaking at ELPE’s official launch for a solar energy farm in Kozani, northern Greece, one of Europe’s biggest, informed that the group’s hydrocarbon exploration activities for potential natural gas deposits, part of the group portfolio, will focus on offshore areas and be accelerated.

The results of data collected through seismic surveys at the Ionian Sea and Gulf of Kyparissia blocks will now be studied, while 3D seismic data will also be collected, a procedure to require a further 12 months.

As for ELPE’s interests at Cretan offshore blocks, for which the company has formed a consortium with France’s Total and America’s ExxonMobil, surveys conducted have shown similarities with areas in the eastern Mediterranean, where major hydrocarbon discoveries have been made.

ELPE’s chief executive attributed delays affecting exploration work at the Cretan blocks to a legal case filed with the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, targeting the venture’s environmental impact study. No serious company would continue exploring with such a legal case pending, Siamisiis noted.

 

 

PPC capable of boosting lignite extraction by 43%, utility tells

Power utility PPC has the capacity to increase its lignite extraction to as much as 15 million tons annually, from 10.5 million tons at present, for a 43 percent increase to full-capacity lignite-fired generation, in the event of a Russian disruption of natural gas supply to Europe, according to an updated annual mining plan submitted by the utility to the energy ministry.

Even so, this increased production could still not be enough to fill the enormous gap that would be left by a Russian cut in natural gas supply.

The country’s lignite-fired electricity generation can increase to 6.5 TWh annually from the present plan of 4.5 TWh, according to the utility plan. However, PPC would need to hasten the development of a series of projects to boost productivity at its lignite mines and increase the amounts of lignite stocks at the yards of its seven lignite-fired power stations – five Agios Dimitrios units, as well as Meliti and Megalopoli.

The annual plan’s objective is to increase lignite stocks at each of the five Agios Dimitrios facilities to 1.75 million tons from 1.2 million, while also increasing the amount at Meliti to 300,000 tons from 220,000 tons this month, as well as the lignite stock at Megalopoli to 500,000 tons from 270,000 tons.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to comment on Greece’s lignite alternative, given the Russian threat, at the official launch, tomorrow, of a major-scale solar energy farm developed by Hellenic Petroleum ELPE at Livera, close to Kozani, northern Greece. Offering a 204-MW capacity, this facility is one of Europe’s biggest.

No need for lignite schedule revisions, officials determine

The country’s decarbonization plan, not responsible for the sharp rise in electricity prices, does not require any revisions, lignite continuing to contribute to the energy mix in accordance with the grid’s needs, government officials have determined following a weekend meeting during which the country’s energy mix was examined.

Lignite has played a bigger role in the country’s energy mix over the past few days, covering more than 20 percent of electricity generation needs, up from 10.5 percent in January.

According to data provided by power grid operator IPTO, six of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations will operate today. Agios Dimitrios I, II, IV and V, Megalopoli IV and Meliti will all contribute to the grid, according to IPTO.

Officials participating at the weekend meeting also examined the progress of the country’s hydrocarbons sectors. EU member states are looking for ways to reduce their dependence on Russian gas.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) recently conducted seismic surveys at its ‘Ionio’ license, an Ionian Sea block southwest of Corfu. EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is now awaiting the investor’s next steps.

Hydrocarbon prospects reassessed following invasion

The prospects of Greece’s hydrocarbon sector, given the latest conditions shaped by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which has highlighted the need for natural gas source diversification, will be reassessed at a meeting scheduled to take place at the Prime Minister’s office tomorrow, with participation from the leadership of the energy ministry and EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

The meeting’s participants are expected to examine if and how the country’s hydrocarbon prospects and can be more effectively incorporated into Greece’s energy policies.

On a wider scale, Russia’s attack on Ukraine has prompted the EU to look for ways to revise its energy policy in order to reduce its reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible. A number of EU member states are now beginning to refocus on domestic hydrocarbon potential.

Renewable energy remains the top priority in Greece’s energy policy as the country aims to transition to a climate-neutral economy.

However, natural gas is planned to serve as a bridge to facilitate the transition towards greater RES market penetration.

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) conducted seismic surveys in January at the Gulf of Kyparissia, west of the Peloponnese, at its Block 10 license, commissioning Norwegian company Sharewater and survey vessel SW Cook.

The same vessel then conducted conduct surveys at ELPE’s ‘Ionio’ license, an Ionian Sea block measuring 6,671.13 square kilometers, southwest of Corfu, opposite the Paxi islands.

EDEY, in an announcement, noted that Greece’s potential gas deposits could generate turnover in excess of 250 billion euros, which would support the energy transition.

ELPE acquires 303-MW PV project, 16 MW of units in operation

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has acquired a new solar energy facility with a 303-MW capacity, currently at the licensing stage, and also added to the company portfolio 16 additional MW of RES units now in operation, both dynamic moves made as part of the energy group’s strategy for further RES growth.

More specifically, ELPE has just signed an agreement with RES development company FEN SOL for the 303-MW solar facility, consisting of two solar energy farms at Meliti, in northern Greece’s Florina area.

In its other big move, ELPE has acquired solar parks offering a total of 16 MW in the Viotia area, northwest of Athens, from Trina Solar. These projects, already functioning, have secured tariff levels at very satisfactory price levels.

In addition, ELPE is also moving ahead with licensing procedures for a further 20 MW and has completed its development of a major-scale solar energy park with a 204-MW capacity in Kozani, northern Greece. The company now expects power grid operator IPTO to soon connect this project to the grid.

The Kozani project’s addition to the grid will increase ELPE’s capacity of operating RES units to a total of nearly 300 MW, chief executive Andreas Siamisiis noted during a presentation of the group’s annual financial results.

ELPE preparing to survey ‘Ionio’ block after sector standstill

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) is preparing to conduct seismic surveys at a license in the Ionian Sea, a development that comes as a surprise given the overall stagnancy in Greece’s upstream sector and fears of an end to all exploration aspirations.

ELPE plans to conduct surveys at ‘Ionio’, its Ionian Sea block measuring 6,671.13 square kilometers, southwest of Corfu, opposite the Paxi islands, for a clearer picture on possible natural gas deposits, energypress sources have informed.

ELPE has stepped back from a number of upstream projects but, given this latest development, appears keen to carry on exploring in areas where it has maintained interests.

Last Friday, EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, announced that ELPE has completed seismic surveys at Block 10, west of the Peloponnese.

ELPE is going into the ‘Ionio’ project alone following the withdrawal of Spanish partner Repsol.

Norwegian company Sharewater has been commissioned the seismic survey for ELPE’s ‘Ionio’ block. Sharewater’s research and survey vessel SW Cook has arrived at the port of Patras in preparation for the task.

However, the vessel is reported to have suffered minor damage following a collision during the mooring process at the port and it remains unclear when it will be ready to proceed with the ‘Ionio’ block survey.

 

New Supreme Court hearing delay for Crete offshore licenses

A court hearing concerning a legal case filed by environmental groups challenging an environmental impact assessment for prospective hydrocarbon exploration at two offshore licenses, west and southwest of Crete, by a consortium consisting of Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), has been suspended for a fourth time since 2019 by the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, which has set a new date, October 5, 2022, according to sources.

The latest delay comes as a setback for the three-member consortium, which faces a first-stage exploration deadline preceding the new trial date.

Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE have planned seismic surveys at the two licenses, believed to offer natural gas production potential, but the trio cannot proceed with any exploration activity unless it overcomes this legal challenge.

Authorities tasked with assisting the government in legal action taken by environmental groups are seeking to move forward the new trial date, for a swifter conclusion.

The latest court delay highlights fears previously raised by upstream officials believing the country’s official policy on hydrocarbon deposit utilization remains ambiguous.

It remains to be seen how Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE will react to the hearing’s latest delay.

DEPA Commercial privatization decision expected in January

A decision on whether to defer the final binding-bids stage in the 100 percent privatization of gas company DEPA Commercial is not expected until January, according to sources. Officials are delaying the progress of this sale fearing negative impact that could stem from the energy crisis and an unresolved legal dispute between the gas company and fertilizer industry ELFE.

The country’s privatization fund TAIPED is waiting to see how the government decides to move ahead on a number of issues, and is also awaiting the stance of ELPE (Greek Petroleum), which holds a 35 percent stake in DEPA Commercial, before reaching a decision, the sources noted. TAIPED controls the Greek State’s 65 percent share of DEPA Commercial.

Though the legal dispute between DEPA and ELFE could drag on for months, the DEPA Commercial sale has not been put on hold as authorities are pursuing a solution, according to TAIPED sources.

ELFE is seeking compensation from DEPA, contending the gas company overpriced gas supply between 2010 and 2015, while DEPA has filed a case seeking overdue amounts from the fertilizer producer, based in Kavala, northern Greece.

On the other front, ELPE is likely to seek to sell its 35 percent share of DEPA Commercial regardless of what the government and TAIPED decide to do with their 65 percent share, sources informed.

One alternative being contemplated is to divide DEPA Commercial so as to enable the sale of subsidiary gas supplier Fysiko Aerio Elladas. Another possibility examined by TAIPED is to list DEPA Commercial on the Athens Stock Exchange, though this is seen as highly unlikely given the insecurity the ongoing ELFE legal case would cause among investors.

No sign of energy price de-escalation, ELPE chief executive points out

There is no sign of energy prices deescalating any time soon, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) group CEO Andreas Siamisiis has noted during a conference call staged for a presentation of the group’s 3Q results.

The ELPE chief executive expressed concern over the sharp rise in energy costs, which have impacted the recovery of the group’s results, despite nearly doubled operating profit in the third quarter.

Higher energy costs are subduing, to some extent, ELPE’s positive results, the chief executive noted, adding that figures in 4Q are expected to be just as good, if not better.

The group’s restructuring plan is progressing at a rapid pace for completion by the end of this year, in accordance with the initial schedule, Siamisiis pointed out.

ELPE, whose revised business plan incorporates major green-energy investments, is expected to be rebranded in early 2022.

ELPE, Energean withdraw from Gulf of Patras license

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Energean have decided to withdraw from their Gulf of Patras license in western Greece, the two companies have informed EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

The Gulf of Patras area’s hydrocarbon quantity, believed to measure at least 100 million barrels, will now remain unconfirmed, following this latest development.

In January, 2020, the consortium had applied for an 18-month extension to complete second-phase work at the Gulf of Patras license. At the time, the consortium had cited insufficient port facilities for entry of the project’s drilling facility and other equipment.

The consortium would have had to conduct a first round of drilling this winter or abandon the project. It opted for the latter.

The Gulf of Patras license was originally granted to ELPE through an open-door tender launched in 2012 and completed in 2014.

Italy’s Edison was also a partner but it withdrew and was replaced by Energean.

The project area covers 1,900 square kilometers. Its estimated hydrocarbon reserves, estimated at between 100 and 140 million barrels, had the potential to offer annual turnover of roughly 200 million euros.

 

ELPE profitability recovers to pre-crisis levels

HELLENIC PETROLEUM (ELPE) announced its 3Q21 consolidated financial results, with Adjusted EBITDA coming in at €125m, up by 90% vs 3Q20 and 58% compared to 2Q21, with corresponding Net Income at €39m. Likewise, 9M21 Reported Net Income came in at €258m, improved by over €600m compared to last year.

Results were mainly driven by oil demand recovery in all key markets, as well as improved benchmark refining margins, following several quarters at historical lows. The strong operational performance in refining and marketing, both in Greece and internationally, as well as the first results from the strategic transformation programs, also had a positive impact. A significant part of the operational improvement was offset by the surge in energy costs and CO2 emissions allowance pricing, which has become one of the most important challenges for industries in Greece and internationally.

Refining, Supply & Trading increased its contribution to the highest levels of the last 5 quarters, led by the higher refining availability and the improvement in the international environment. Furthermore, fuel demand in Greece continued to increase, with domestic sales accounting for 50% of total sales, the highest since 2019. The above positive results were partially offset by the significant increase of variable operating costs, due to the sharp rise in international natgas prices to multi-year highs, which affected the pricing of electricity, as well as of CO2 emissions allowances.

Petrochemicals’ results continued to improve, as product demand exceeds current supply. In Domestic and International Marketing, where an expansion and upgrade plan at the retail network is being implemented, sales and profitability were higher.

The associated companies in the Power and Gas sector reported another quarter of improved performance, mainly due to the higher electricity demand.

IFRS Reported financial results were further improved, due to the continuous increase in crude oil and product prices, with 9M21 Reported EBITDA at €531m and Net Income at €258m. 

Strategy and main developments

The Group’s corporate restructuring process continues, with the Company’s BoD approving, on 30 September 2021, the draft demerger deed for the hive down of the Refining, Supply & Trading and Petrochemical business to the new company. The deed is expected to be submitted for approval by the Shareholders’ General Meeting in early December and its implementation is expected to be completed in the beginning of 2022. The new corporate structure will have multiple benefits in terms of flexibility in developing and financing of new activities, risk management, as well as improving value transparency across the Group’s activities’ portfolio.

Engineering works at the 204 MW PV park in Kozani are at the final stage, with 14 of the 18 parks -corresponding to 166 MW- already mechanically completed, while connection to the HV network and commercial operation are expected in 1Q22.

With reference to the sale process of DEPA Infrastructure (65% HRADF – 35% HELPE), in which the Group participated as a joint seller with the HRADF, Italgas was declared as preferred investor, with an offer of €733m, corresponding to €256m for HELLENIC PETROLEUM’s participation. The share purchase agreement is expected to be signed soon, following the Court of Audit approval, while it is anticipated that the transaction will be completed in 1H22, subject to customary regulatory approvals.

Finally, during 3Q21, the on-shore exploration concessions “Arta-Preveza” and “NW Peloponnese” were returned to the Greek State, while in October the Hellenic Hydrocarbons Resources Management Agency was notified about the intention to also return the West Patraikos concession.

Andreas Shiamishis, Group CEO, commented on results:

“Economic recovery accelerated during 3Q21, mainly due to stronger tourism and increased economic activity, with a direct impact on our sector. The Group results are improved in almost all respects vs last year as a result of better environment and, more importantly, the continuous and steady improvements in controllable areas, such as refining availability, commercial performance in Greece and our international subsidiaries, as well as cost control.

However, aside those positive developments, the ongoing global energy crisis, with a sharp increase in international NatGas prices and a corresponding rise in -natgas linked- electricity and CO2 pricing, affects the industry and the energy transition process.

The above highlight further the importance and necessity of the Group’s strategic transformation process and the implementation of “VISION 2025” strategy, with the new corporate structure, a corporate governance upgrade, as well as the significant resources and capital reallocation, in order to grow in new energy market and proceed with the equally important decarbonization of our core activities”. 

Benchmark refining margins improvement

Since the end of July, OPEC ++ has agreed to a gradual increase in crude oil exports, by 400 kbpd, with a significant impact on global crude supply. However, as demand continued to recover from COVID-crisis lows at a faster pace, a further increase in international prices was recorded, with Brent crude averaging $73/bbl, up from $43/bbl last year and $69/bbl in 2Q20.

As a result of higher demand, the main product cracks recovered from their recent historical lows. In addition, the increase in the crude oil supply, particularly for high-sulfur, put pressure on the relative pricing of those grades vs Brent, with the Brent-Urals differential at the highest levels of the last decade. Those led to a recovery in benchmark refining margins, with the FCC averaging at $5.2/bbl and Hydrocracking at $2.9/bbl. Finally, energy costs increased significantly, with gas and power prices reaching historical high.

The US dollar slightly strengthened vs the Euro in the 3Q21, with €/$ exchange rate averaging at 1.18, corresponding to last year’s levels.

Domestic fuel market demand continuous improving

The lifting of mobility and travel restrictions as well as the restart of the economy and tourism during the quarter, resulted in ground fuels demand increasing by 8% vs LY, reaching 2019 levels. Total domestic fuels market demand amounted to 1.6m MT, -1% compared to 3Q19. The Aviation and Bunkering market also recorded a significant recovery compared to last year, with the consumption of shipping fuels up by 28% to 712k MT and aviation fuel more than doubling to 476k MT, but falling short of 2019 by 20%.

Reduced financing cost; €201m Eurobond repayment

On 14 October 2021, the Group repaid the remaining €201m bonds through available cash, while it will review its capital structure and opportunities in international markets, following the completion of HELLENIC PETROLEUM’s demerger process. The repayment of 4.875% interest rate bonds will have a positive impact on the Group’s financing cost, which in 3Q21 amounted to €24m, reduced by 4% compared to last year.

In addition, a consent solicitation process is underway to the holders of October ’24 notes, to amend the existing conditions, so that the demerger of HELLENIC PETROLEUM takes place in a credit neutral way. Net Debt amounted to €1.8bn, significantly reduced vs LY and at similar levels vs 2Q21.

Key highlights and contribution for each of the main business units in 3Q21 were:

REFINING, SUPPLY & TRADING

­           Refining, Supply & Trading 3Q21 Adjusted EBITDA at €57m.

­          Production amounted to 3.6m MT (+9%), due to the Aspropyrgos increased availability. Sales amounted to 3.8m MT (+5%), with domestic market up 13%, at 1.1m MT.

  • HELPE realized margin at $8.7/bbl, the highest in two years, driven by stronger benchmark refining margins, as well as by the Supply and Marketing performance.

PETROCHEMICALS

  • PP benchmark margins, even lower compared to 2Q21, remained at high levels, leading Adjusted EBITDA to €21m (+40%) in 3Q21 and €102m in 9M21, double vs 9M20. 

MARKETING

  • In Domestic Marketing, the recovery in fuel demand in all sub-markets resulted in increased sales volumes and profitability to significantly higher levels, offsetting the notable rise in transportation and electricity costs, with 3Q21 Adjusted EBITDA at €29m (+68%).
  • In International Marketing, the sales’ increase in the retail networks and the good operational performance led the 3Q21 Adjusted EBITDA to €20m (+15%).

ASSOCIATED COMPANIES

  • DEPA Group contribution to 3Q21 consolidated Net Income amounted to €3m.
  • Elpedison’s EBITDA for the 3Q21 came in at €20m (+31%), with 9M21 at €64m (+50%), due to increased demand for power as well as the contribution of NatGas plants in the system mix, offsetting the decline in profitability in the retail sector.

HELLENIC PETROLEUM GROUP

Key consolidated financial indicators (prepared in accordance with IFRS) for 3Q/9M21 are shown below:

€ million 3Q20 3Q21 % Δ 9M20 9M21 % Δ
P&L figures  
Refining Sales Volumes (‘000 ΜΤ) 3,667 3,842 5% 11,173 11.309 1%
Sales 1,474 2,442 66% 4,460 6.399 43%
EBITDA 19 140 -321 531
Adjusted EBITDA 1 66 125 90% 256 264 3%
EBIT -42 76 -509 341
Adjusted EBIT 1 9 70 93 115 24%
Net Income -43 51 -379 258
Adjusted Net Income 1 8 39 13 51
Balance Sheet Items
Capital Employed 3,989 3,937 -1%
Net Debt 2,125 1,866 -12%
Debt Gearing (ND/ND+E) 53% 47% -11%

 

ELPE begins group restructuring plan to feature new subsidiaries

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE has begun preparations for the establishment of a new subsidiary as part of the group’s wider restructuring plan, dubbed Vision 2025. The subsidiary will be attached to a holding company to serve as an umbrella for subsidiaries representing the group’s activities.

As a first step, ELPE’s administration has decided to establish a new division for its refining, supply and petroleum and petrochemicals sales.  ELPE plans to offer 130.1 million new shares for 10 euros each, which results in a total value of 1.3 billion euros for this new subsidiary.

The restructuring plan is expected to be completed by the end of the year with the establishment of all other subsidiaries, representing Commerce (EKO, BP), ELPE Upstream, ELPE Renewables, as well as a subsidiary hosting the group’s electricity and natural gas interests.

The Vision 2025 plan includes investments worth 4 billion euros to facilitate the group’s entry into the renewable energy sector and support new technologies for cleaner energy production.

Industrial players paying price for energy supply agreement delays

Industrial producers who have prolonged their energy-supply negotiations and delayed signing new agreements now face drastically deteriorated conditions prompted by an alarming price surge.

Highlighting the unfavorable turn in market conditions, one small-scale industrial consumer is believed to have just signed a new high-voltage supply agreement at a price level of approximately 120 euros per MWh, about 30 percent higher than levels of just a few months ago and considerably higher than supply agreements reached early in the summer.

Power utility PPC managed to move fast enough to incorporate hedging agreements to these deals as protection against price rises, a crucial decision given the current conditions.

A number of large-scale industrial players have yet to reach electricity supply agreements, finding themselves fully exposed to the sharp price rises, caused by a combination of unfavorable factors in international markets.

Mid-voltage industrial producers find themselves in even more discomforting positions as electricity price rises for this category have been even steeper, reaching levels of 125 euros per MWh in July and 150 euros per MWh in August.

The adverse market conditions help explain Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s recent decision to not sign a new supply agreement with PPC, turning instead to group member Elpedison for its electricity needs.

Increased electricity and natural gas costs are severely impacting the competitiveness of industrial producers, expected to pass on these increased costs to their product prices.

 

PPC retail market share remains high, 64.37% in August

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

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

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

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

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

ELPE posts 76% EBITDA increase, year-to-year, 2Q net profit at €54m

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has posted a 26 percent comparable EBITDA profit increase to 79 million euros for the second quarter.

ELPE’s net profit reached 54 million euros in the second quarter and 206 million euros in the first quarter, while the EBITDA figure was 133 million euros, a 76 percent year-on-year increase.

The market’s gradual market recovery has led to a slight improvement in international market conditions.

An operating profit increase at ELPE was primarily attributed to a record high in the petrochemical sector, where the reduced global availability of polypropylene led to very high international margins.

A rebound in international oil prices for yet another quarter, positively impacted the company’s stock valuation and published results.

 

Repsol transfer of Ioannina block stake to Energean done, 4 players left

Spain’s Repsol has completed its strategic withdrawal from the Greek hydrocarbon market with the finalization of a transfer of its 60 percent share in the onshore Ioannina block, northwestern Greece, to project partner Energean.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas’ ministerial decision needed for the transfer’s finalization was published yesterday.

Repsol revealed its intention to withdraw from the Greek market early this year when the Spanish company and its partner for the Etoloakarnania block, Energean, both notified the Greek State and EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, of their decision to return their Etoloakarnania block rights.

This was followed by the transfer of Repsol’s share in the Ioannina black to Energean in March, while, late in July, the Spanish company announced its decision to withdraw from an Ionian Sea block, its last remaining license in Greece.

Repsol’s new business plan will limit the company’s presence to just 14 of 34 markets in which it has maintained interests. Repsol has also set an objective to reduce its annual investments in the upstream sector from 2.4 billion euros in 2019 to 1.6 billion euros by 2025.

Besides Repsol, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has also withdrawn from two onshore blocks, Arta-Preveza and Northwestern Peloponnese, made official on August 13.

Four investors remain active in Greece’s hydrocarbon exploration and production market, ELPE, Energean, France’s Total and the USA’s ExxonMobil, at a total of 11 licenses.

 

 

ELPE upbeat on relaunch of Thessaloniki-Skopje oil pipeline

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE has acknowledged the governments of Greece and North Macedonia are working intensely for the reopening of an oil pipeline linking the petroleum group’s Thessaloniki refinery with its Okta subsidiary refinery in the neighboring country’s capital, Skopje, estimating the pipeline will reopen in the first quarter of 2022.

The pipeline has remained closed since 2016. ELPE has already proceeded with necessary maintenance work to protect the pipeline from internal corrosion and ensure it will be ready to operate once administrative and bureaucratic procedures have been completed.

A report published by ELPET Valkaniki, a fully owned ELPE subsidiary for Balkan markets, noted that OKTA stopped processing crude oil early in 2013 for business reasons after deciding to operate commercially with imports of finished products, a move that kept the pipeline inactive.

 

Listed players plan 16 GW in RES projects worth €16bn

Greece’s listed energy groups, alone, plan to invest a total amount of 16 billion euros over the next decade for the development of green energy projects representing over 16 GW, big figures highlighting the anticipated dominance of the green energy market in the years to come as the country transitions to cleaner energy sources and decarbonizes.

Investments are already anticipated in mature RES technologies, namely wind and solar energy facilities, while, once market and regulatory conditions allow, major investments will be made in energy storage as well as offshore wind farms.

Terna Energy, market leader in Greece’s RES market, plans to reach an installed capacity of 3,000 MW in the next five years. The company, the biggest wind energy player in Greece and southeast Europe, is currently developing wind energy projects representing 400 MW while a further 63 projects are nearing maturity.

Power utility PPC is making impressive RES market progress through its subsidiary PPC Renewables. PPC, according to the company’s updated business plan, will make investments totaling 3.4 billion euros until 2023, 34 percent of this amount concerning RES investments.

Green energy is also a key aspect in the Mytilineos group’s investment plans over the next few years. Its solar energy projects portfolio, representing 1,480 MW, is one of the biggest in Greece. The company possesses 300 MW in RES projects either operating, under construction or set for construction, as well as a further 100 MW headed for final investment decisions by the end of 2021. Mytilineos also plans to develop 20 energy storage projects, each with a 50-MW capacity.

Hellenic Petoleum (ELPE), both acquiring and developing RES projects, is aiming for a 2-GW RES portfolio by 2030.

Motor Oil Hellas recently acquired 11 operating wind farms with a total 220-MW capacity as well as a 20-MW facility still under construction from private equity fund Fortress. MOH is aiming for an operating RES capacity of 364 MW by the end of 2022 as well as a medium-term RES goal of between 500 to 600 MW.

Ellaktor is planning investments worth 1 billion euros for the development of 900 MW through its partnership with Portugal’s EDPR.

Contractor Intrakat also aims to push ahead with a one billion-euro RES investment plan. The company has joined forces with Gaia Anemos, possessing wind and PV production licenses representing approximately 1 GW, plus RES expertise.

RF Energy has reached an investment decision to develop an offshore wind farm with a capacity of 498.15 MW northeast of the island Limnos. The project is budgeted at two billion euros, according to the company.

 

 

 

ELPE leaving PPC for supply agreement with Elpedison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ELPE leaves onshore licenses, upstream stagnancy deepening

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has announced a decision to withdraw from two onshore licenses, Arta-Preveza, in Greece’s northwest, and Northwest Peloponnese, adding to a series of recent negative developments for the country’s hydrocarbon aspirations, increasingly stagnant.

The ELPE decision is a result of the country’s ongoing energy transition towards a low-emissions economy, reflecting the upstream industry’s global contraction.

ELPE is striving for a 30 percent carbon emissions reduction by 2030 and becoming carbon-neutral by the end of the decade.

Like most upstream companies around the world, ELPE is turning its business interests to the RES sector and repositioning to reduce its exposure to CO2 emissions.

The ELPE decision to surrender its two onshore block licenses follows a recent decision by Spain’s Repsol, with Energean, to return to the Greek State exploration and production rights to an Etoloakarnania block, in the country’s northwest.

Repsol, seeking to limit its upstream exposure, has decided to withdraw from its hydrocarbon interests in Greece, as well as a further 13 countries of 28 in which the company is active.

Repsol has also left its interests in an Ioannina onshore block, in the northwest, leaving Energean alone in this venture, the country’s sole onshore license. Repsol also withdrew from its offshore Ionian Sea block, a 50-50 venture with ELPE.

 

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.