Rescue talks for Prinos, Greece’s only producing field, making progress

Talks between Energean Oil & Gas and officials at the energy and economy ministries for a solution to rescue offshore Prinos, Greece’s only producing field in the north, are making progress, sources have informed.

Heightened Turkish provocations in the Aegean Sea over the past few days – the neighboring country sent a survey vessel into Greece’s EEZ – and greater US presence in the wider southeast Mediterranean region, are two developments that have injected further urgency into the Prinos field rescue talks.

The east Mediterranean is at the core of geopolitical developments that promise to create new political and energy sector conditions.

US oil corporation Chevron, America’s second-biggest energy group, has joined fellow American upstream giant ExxonMobil in the east Mediterranean with a five billion-dollar acquisition of Noble Energy.

This takeover by the California-based buyer adds to the Chevron portfolio the gigantic Leviathan gas field in Israel’s EEZ, as well as the Aphrodite gas field, situated within the Cypriot EEZ and estimated to hold 4.5 trillion cubic feet.

It also offers Chevron prospective roles in the East Med pipeline, to supply Europe via the Leviathan field, and Egypt’s LNG infrastructure, all elevating the petroleum group into a dominant regional player.

Israel and Cyprus recently ratified the East Med agreement, as has Greece, while Italy appears to be examining the prospect.

In another regional development, the Total-ENI-ELPE consortium is preparing to conduct seismic surveys at licenses south and southwest of Crete, and an environmental study southeast of Crete has been approved by Greek authorities. Also, oil majors with interests in Cyprus’ EEZ have planned a series of drilling operations for 2021.

Meanwhile, Turkey, trespassing into both Greek and Cypriot EEZ waters, consistently cites a memorandum recently signed with Libya as support for its actions, as well as its refusal to sign the UN’s International Law of the Sea treaty, strongly disagreeing with an article that gives EEZ and continental shelf rights to island areas.

Greek government officials are well aware that closure of the Prinos field amid such precarious conditions would lead to major consequences, not just economic and social, as would be the case under normal conditions, but also geopolitical.

Ministry OKs environmental study for blocks south of Crete

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has approved a strategic environmental impact study concerning an offshore area south of Crete in preparation for tenders to offer exploration and production licenses for two blocks covering most of the island’s width.

Giannis Basias, the former head official at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, went ahead with the strategic environmental impact study last August to clear the way for government authorities to stage tenders for licenses and also spare  winning bidders of needing to wait for pending issues to be resolved before they can begin their exploration efforts.

In addition, it is believed EDEY took swift action for the environmental impact study covering the offshore area south of Crete in response to interest expressed by oil majors.

The two offshore blocks south of Crete measure a total of 33,933 square kilometers and cover all four prefectures spread across the island.

These vacant blocks are situated next to two blocks southwest and west of Crete that have already been licensed out to a three-member consortium headed by Total with ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum as partners.

The eastern flank of these two blocks is intruded by a corridor defined in a recent Turkish-Libyan maritime deal.

The Greek energy ministry’s approval of the strategic environmental impact study for south of Crete is not linked to Turkey’s heightened provocations in the Aegean Sea, ministry officials told energypress.

The environmental study’s approval means this offshore area is now set for tenders and also sends out a signal of readiness to the international upstream industry, the ministry officials explained.

Just days ago, the newly appointed EDEY administration and the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou met with officials of Total, operator of the consortium holding the two licenses southwest and west of Crete. Seismic surveys for these blocks will be completed by March next year, the Total officials appear to have promised.

DEPA Commerce sale may change gas, electricity markets

Ongoing procedures in the sale of DEPA Commerce could serve as a catalyst for major changes in the retail gas and electricity markets, leaving fewer players in these markets.

Challenges of the new era, from electromobility to renewable energy, are expected to soon lead to the establishment of various energy-sector mergers and partnerships in Greece.

Talks between company officials for potential partnerships have proliferated since seven consortiums were confirmed as the qualifiers through to the second and final round in the sale of gas utility DEPA’s commercial division.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) chief executive Andreas Siamisiis, during a press conference yesterday, left open the prospect of an entry by an additional partner into the consortium formed by ELPE and Italy’s Edison. This consortium is among the sale’s seven qualifiers.

Such a development could even influence the line-up of electricity supplier Elpedison, a joint venture formed by ELPE and Edison for Greece’s retail market, Siamisiis admitted.

It is believed that fellow qualifiers Motor Oil and Greek power utility PPC, who also joined forces for the DEPA Commerce sale, are moving to expand their consortium for this sale.

Highlight the importance of the DEPA Commerce sale, and its potential to lead to sweeping changes, six major Greek energy companies are involved in the DEPA Commerce sale, a record level of interest for any local energy-market sale in recent years.

Besides the three aforementioned Greek players, Mytilineos, GEK-TERNA and Copelouzos are also vying for DEPA Commerce.

Electricity producers are the market’s biggest gas consumers, which entwines the interests of gas and electricity players.

Six Greek heavyweights among DEPA Commercial contenders

Six major Greek energy market players are among the contenders through to the second round of the DEPA Commercial sale, the biggest domestic turnout for an energy-sector tender in recent years, highlighting the gas market’s significance and prospects over the next decade.

The country’s energy transition plan is aiming for zero emissions by 2030.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), joined by Italian partner Edison, a Motor Oil and power utility PPC partnership, Mytilineos, Gek-Terna and the Copelouzos group are the six Greek contenders, among a list of seven bidding teams shortlisted for the DEPA Commercial sale’s final round, entailing binding bids.

Gas utility DEPA, from which DEPA Commercial has been established for the utility’s privatization, may have lost its monopoly in the natural gas market, but its assets and market share promise the new owner a leading position during Greece’s decade of decarbonization, electric vehicle market growth and drastic reduction in fuel consumption.

As a result, fierce bidding for DEPA Commercial is expected.

The company’s acquisition will provide the new owner with a portfolio of 350,000 customers plus DEPA Commercial’s international supply contracts with Russia’s Gazprom, supplying pipeline gas to the Greek company for years; Algeria’s Sonatrach, supplying LNG; and Turkey’s Botas.

Gas quantities from Azerbaijan have also been reserved by DEPA Commercial via the imminent TAP route.

 

 

 

Seven bidders through to DEPA Commercial sale’s final round

The Board of Directors of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), during today’s meeting decided, that seven interested parties meet the criteria to participate in Phase B (Binding Offers Phase) of the tender process for the acquisition of 65% of the share capital of DEPA Commercial (Trade) S.A., with an option of acquiring the total of its issued share capital by virtue of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between DEPA S.A. shareholders, HRADF and Hellenic Petroleum S.A. (HELPE), the development fund has announced in a statement.

The prequalified interested parties to participate in Phase B of the tender are (in alphabetical order):

  1. C. G. GAS LIMITED
  2. Consortium HELLENIC PETROLEUM SA & EDISON INTERNATIONAL HOLDING N.V
  3. Consortium MOTOR OIL HELLAS CORINTH REFINERIES SA & PPC SA
  4. GEK TERNA SA
  5. MET HOLDING AG
  6. MYTILINEOS SA
  7. SHELL GAS BV

Following the signing of the relevant Confidentiality Agreement, the prequalified interested parties will receive the documents of Phase B (Binding Offers Phase) and will grant access to the virtual data room (VDR), where data and information related to DEPA Commercial S.A. are uploaded, the statement added.

 

 

 

 

DEPA Trade sale short list this month, sooner than expected

Privatization fund TAIPED is expected to announce its short list of final-round qualifiers in a tender offering a stake of at least 65 percent, possibly even 100 percent, of DEPA Trade – a new entity formed by gas utility DEPA as part of its privatization – within the next few weeks, far sooner than expected.

Deteriorated international investment conditions have prompted fears of a slower sale procedure.

The privatization fund, now close to finalizing its appraisals of nine first-round bids, has requested clarification from participants.

The DEPA Trade privatization was expected to drag well behind that of DEPA Infrastructure, seen as a lower-risk sale effort offering investors regulated earnings, but the two privatization efforts now appear likely to move ahead almost concurrently, or a few weeks apart.

A list of six final-round qualifiers in the DEPA Infrastructure sale was announced a week ago. Authorities are aiming to complete this sale towards the end of the year.

As for DEPA Trade, this entity promises the winning bidder an immediate advantage in Greece’s natural gas market as more than 200,000 customers around the country will be gained.

DEPA Trade’s wholesale gas trading activity is another appealing factor, despite the fact that it shrunk to 40 percent of the market’s total last year, as the growing southeast European market offers huge potential.

DEPA Trade’s nine first-round bidders are: C.G GAS LIMITED; MET HOLDING AG; POWER GLOBE LLC; SHELL GAS B.V.; VITOL HOLDING B.V.; GEK TERNA; HELLENIC PETROLEUM (ELPE) & EDISON INTERNATIONAL HOLDING N.V. consortium; MOTOR OIL HELLAS & GREEK POWER UTILITY PPC (consortium); MYTILINEOS.

 

Turkish-Libyan MoU ‘ignores’ International Law of the Sea

A Turkish-Libyan Memorandum of Understanding emphatically ignores article 121 of the International Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), which recognizes Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf rights for island areas, and overlooks the existence of Crete, Karpathos, Kasos, Rhodes and Kastellorizo to carve out approximately 39,000 square kilometers of Greek territory south of Crete for Libya, petroleum geologist and energy economist Dr. Konstantinos Nikolaou, a former member of the board at the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company, has pointed out in an analysis, spelling out the dangers of Turkey’s provocative behavior in the region.

Turkey misappropriates the continental shelf and EEZ associated with Crete, Karpathos, Kasos, Rhodes and Kastellorizo in the east Mediterranean, he noted on the MoU, submitted by Turkey to the UN in an effort to make gains at Greece’s expense.

Hydrocarbon licenses for plots south and southwest of Crete that have been awarded by the Greek State to Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and published in the Official Journal of the European Union, set a precedent that backs the positions of Greece, whose division of the area is based on International Law of the Sea guidelines, Nikolaou highlighted.

Turkey is using its state-run petroleum corporation TPAO as a tool to exercise foreign policy for territorial gains, Nikolaou added.

Natural gas discoveries in the east Mediterranean serve as a major driving force behind the actions of Turkey, whose energy sector is import-dependent, he pointed out.

DEPA Trade, Infrastructure sales delayed for after summer

The final rounds of privatization procedures for DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade, two new entities formed by gas utility DEPA to facilitate its sale, will be postponed until after summer as a result of the pandemic’s impact on global economic activity and investments, pressuring asset values, sources have informed.

Investors are being offered the Greek State’s 65 percent stake and Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s 35 percent share of DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade.

However, the privatization fund TAIPED, combining its efforts with the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, intends to press ahead with a June launch of a privatization procedure for a depleted offshore gas field south of Kavala planned to be developed as an underground gas storage facility.

An appraisal of first-round offers submitted by nine investment teams for DEPA Infrastructure and that many more for DEPA Trade is expected to be completed within June.

Barring unexpected developments, TAIPED should announce its list of finalists for both sales next month. This will be followed by the opening of a virtual data room facilitating due diligence procedures for both companies.

DEPA Infrastructure bidder shortlist expected end of month

A shortlist of second-round bidders for DEPA Infrastructure, a new entity formed by gas utility DEPA ahead of its privatization, is anticipated towards the end of May, while the cut for DEPA Trade bidders, the utility’s other new division being privatized, could be announced a month later, government sources have informed.

DEPA Infrastructure, whose earnings are regulated by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is less vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic, which is not the case for DEPA Trade, fully exposed to market forces.

“We will not rush, for any reason, to take action that would lead us to much lower offers than the prices we are seeking,” Aris Xenofos, president of the privatization fund TAIPED, told Reuters yesterday.

Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) levels set for network operators by RAE before the coronavirus crisis emerged offer protection to certain privatizations against the global economic uncertainty, government sources told energypress.

Though absolute safety can never be assured, DEPA Infrastructure, whose WACC level has been set at around 7 to 8 percent, is less susceptible to financial volatility compared to other companies on Greece’s privatization list.

DEPA Trade, Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, and power grid operator IPTO – its earnings are regulated but the company is listed through IPTO (ADMIE) Holding – are all far less resilient.

‘Firm steps for privatizations but pandemic’s impact considered’

Decisive steps are being taken for Greece’s energy-sector privatizations, representing two thirds of the country’s overall privatization program, but the pandemic’s impact on international markets will not be neglected, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has pointed out in an interview with Greek daily To Ethnos.

There is no need to rush a plan to reduce the Greek State’s stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) as this sale is not one of restructuring character, the minister noted.

A government decision to sell stakes in DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade, two new entities emerging from a split at gas utility DEPA, is moving ahead as planned, Hatzidakis informed.

First steps have been taken to reduce, below 51 percent, the Greek State’s share in power grid operator IPTO, “but this does not mean we will proceed tomorrow morning,” he said.

State-controlled power utility PPC is preparing terms of an international tender for the sale of at least 49 percent of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a subsidiary, the minister said. This procedure is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of this year, he added.

Greek upstream investments suspended, oil crisis hits hard

The current oil crisis, prompted by a Saudi-Russian price war and lower demand amid the coronavirus pandemic, comes as the latest setback for the upstream sector. The oil price slide, during which prices have plummeted to levels as low as 25 dollars per barrel, had added to the strain already felt by investors as a result of excessive bureaucracy in the Greek market.

Upstream players, troubled by the overall uncertainty, are believed to have suspended their investment plans despite a mild market rebound over the past few days, lifting oil prices to levels between 33 and 34 dollars per barrel.

Energean Oil & Gas’ Katakolo license off western Peloponnese and the Gulf of Patras license, co-owned by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Energean, rank as Greece’s two most mature upstream projects.

An environmental study for the Katakolo license has not yet been approved by the energy ministry. Even if it had, Energean would not move ahead with the venture under the existing market conditions. Current oil price levels would simply not cover investment costs.

Just before Christmas, investors behind the Gulf of Patras license were given an 18-month extension to begin drilling at this project, taking the date to June, 2021. Regional port facilities had been deemed insufficient by the consortium. All activity for this investment has also been suspended, sources informed.

DEPA Trade sale’s PPC-Motor Oil union, Shell return surprise

The privatization of DEPA Trade – a new entity established by gas utility DEPA – offering the Greek State’s 65 percent stake in a procedure whose deadline for first-round offers expired yesterday, produced two surprises. Firstly, Shell reemerged in the country’s gas market following a withdrawal less than two years ago. Secondly, in an unanticipated move, power utility PPC teamed up with Motor Oil for a joint bid.

Shell departed from the Greek natural gas market in July, 2018 by selling its 49 percent stakes in gas supplier EPA Attiki and gas distributor EDA Attiki, both covering the wider Athens region, to DEPA.

Shell received a total of 150 million euros, 39 million for its 49 percent stake in EPA Attiki and 111 million euros for its 49 percent stake in EDA Attiki.

The company’s reemergence can be primarily attributed to an interest in DEPA’s long-term contracts with Gazprom, Sonatrach and Botas, with an eye on the wider Balkan and southeast European regions, sources said.

PPC and Motor Oil decided to join forces for the DEPA Trade sale as a result of the failure of both to secure slots for 2020 at gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens. PPC holds a 30 percent stake in its partnership with Motor Oil, sources informed.

Following its Revythoussa failure, PPC has been more aggressive in a market test for the Alexandroupoli FSRU, expiring today. PPC wants to secure a capacity at this prospective unit in the country’s northeast as the company is determined to have LNG access. A successful bid in the DEPA Trade sale would bolster this position.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Edison did not submit a joint bid for DEPA Trade through Elpedison, their joint venture for Greece’s retail energy market, as had been speculated. Instead, they are believed to have made separate bids. The two had not shaped a common action plan in the event of a successful DEPA Trade bid, sources said. However, the establishment of a new joint venture by the two firms at a latter stage, specifically for DEPA Trade, cannot be ruled out.

The country’s planned privatizations, including DEPA Trade, face likely delays as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s repercussions. The progress of these sales will depend on the course of the pandemic.

DEPA Trade’s first-round bidders forwarded their offers on-line and must follow up with deliveries of official documents by April 24. The evaluation of first-round offers is not expected to begin any sooner than April 25.

DEPA Trade offers due today, at least 7 players interested

Five Greek and two international investment groups are expected to submit bids for the DEPA Trade privatization, whose first-round deadline expires today at 5pm.

DEPA Trade was established as a new gas utility DEPA entity for the privatization, offering the Greek State’s 65 percent stake.

Bidders may also submit their expressions of interest online, via email, as a result of restrictive measures prompted by the coronavirus crisis, but will need to follow-up with official documents by April 24. The evaluation of first-round offers is not expected to begin any sooner than April 25.

The local bidders expected to submits bids, all leading energy players, are Mytilineos, GEK Terna, Motor Oil, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and the Copelouzos group.

ELPE plans to submit a joint bid in partnership with Edison, possibly through Elpedison, their joint venture for Greece’s retail energy market, sources informed.

The Copelouzos group is also working on delivering a joint offer, with Czech firm KKCG.

Shell is among the foreign companies looking interested, despite its sale, two years ago, of stakes in DEPA gas supply and distribution companies.

Dutch firm Vitol is the other foreign player believed to have been drawn to the DEPA Trade sale. Vitol had reached the final stage of an ELPE sale with Algeria’s Sonatrach as a bidding partner, but the pair ended up not submitting a binding offer.

Expressions of interest in DEPA Trade may also come from Swiss-based Hungarian firm Met Energy Holding, active in natural gas wholesale trade. This firm is already present in Hungary, Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine. Qatar’s Power Global is another possibility.

DEPA Trade’s portfolio includes 409,000 customers – households and businesses.

 

Fuel price plunge pressuring refineries, opportunities seen

The plunge of international crude oil prices is impacting Greek refineries and local fuel trade, while, worse still, market forecasts are impossible to make, even for the short term.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Motor Oil, Greece’s two refinery groups, are being tested by the fall of Brent prices to levels of around 30 dollars per barrel. Highlighting this challenge, unleaded 95 octane fuel prices have dropped to less than 1,000 euros per cubic meter (including surcharges before VAT) for the first time in many years.

This represents a drop of more than 100 euros compared to prices on March 9, dubbed “Black Monday” as it was the worst day in markets since the financial crisis, a result of the outbreak of the oil price and output level war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, along with the coronavirus spread’s impact on demand.

The drop in prices is seen continuing. Domestic fuel demand is falling as a result of the Greek government’s broadened enforcement of restrictive measures aiming to contain the coronavirus spread. Local transportation needs have subsequently dropped dramatically, while the only other viable option left for Greek refineries, exports, has been canceled out by plunging fuel demand internationally. Borders have closed and airlines are limiting flights.

The cost of fuel stocks, purchased at far higher prices, is a big concern for both ELPE and Motor Oil. This cost, however, can be partially offset by opportunities currently available for lower-cost production.

On a more positive note, both refineries reduced their loan servicing costs prior to the crisis. This is particularly so for ELPE as the petroleum group was pressured by high borrowing costs. Motor Oil has traditionally pursued a more conservative borrowing policy.

Both refineries will need to take extremely cautious steps amid these highly unpredictable market conditions, analysts agree.

Energy sector transactions forecast to grow in 2020

Energy sector acquisitions and mergers are expected to represent an increased share of overall transactions this year, according to officials at professional services multinational PwC.

The combined effect of a European turn towards investments for green energy growth and Greece’s decarbonization plan is focusing Greek investment interest on the renewable energy sector, PwC officials pointed out during a presentation of an annual report.

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s recent decision to purchase an unfinished 204-MW solar energy park from Germany’s Juwi for 130 million euros, as well as petroleum group Motor Oil’s move to acquire a 47-MW RES project from Mytilineos for 45.8 million euros were highlighted as signs of things to come.

PwC officials also confirmed the interest of major foreign funds for RES investment opportunities in Greece, as was disclosed by energypress earlier this week.

Gas utility DEPA’s privatization of DEPA Infrastructure, a new company entity, will be completed this year, while nine prospective bidders, in the procedure’s preliminary stage, have already emerged to express official interest, PwC officials pointed out.

In 2019, Greece’s energy sector represented 5.8 percent of the country’s total number of takeovers and mergers, transactions worth a total of 4.3 billion euros.

 

ELPE growing internationally, expanding for bigger RES role

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE is increasingly internationalizing with project interests covering a broadened range beyond petroleum, including renewable energy and natural gas, the group’s chief executive Andreas Siamisiis, presenting the group’s future course, has underlined.

ELPE has set a short-term RES installations target of 300 MW by the end of next year, followed by a mid-term goal of 600 MW by 2025.

Renewable energy is expected to be responsible for five to 10 percent of the group’s EBITDA figure in the next five years, ELPE officials have projected.

RES involvement in the petroleum group’s annual EBITDA performances, which, in recent times, have ranged between 600 to 800 million euros, is limited to two million euros.

This EBITDA contribution is soon expected to rise sharply, to a level of 20 million euros, as a result of ELPE’s takeover of an unfinished 204-MW solar energy project, Greece’s biggest, started by Germany’s Juwi close to Kozani in Greece’s north. “This is the first such project. More will follow,” Siamisiis said.

The Kozani solar energy project, Greece’s biggest by far, twenty times the size of the largest of existing units, ranks among Europe’s four biggest solar energy parks.

This investment, totaling 130 million euros, is expected to generate 300 GWh annually. Remaining development and installation work is seen requiring 16 months to complete. The project’s launch is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2021.

 

Crete offshore surveys by Total-led team late this year, early ’21

Intensified, follow-up seismic surveys by a Total-led consortium at two offshore licenses south and west of Crete will go ahead as scheduled late this year or early in 2021, sources have informed.

The exact commencement date will be determined by the availability of specialized research vessels and weather conditions. For now, preparations are progressing as planned.

France’s Total heads a three-member consortium for the two blocks off Crete, partnered by US giant ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE).

Low shipping traffic in the region will enable hydrocarbon exploration work as late as the spring season of 2021 if next winter’s weather conditions prove unsuitable.

Initial survey work at the Cretan blocks have produced encouraging results, especially at an offshore area given the name Talos, which has displayed similar geological traits to Egypt’s offshore Zohr gas field.

The results of preliminary research conducted by ELPE in 2015 convinced Total and ExxonMobil to form a partnership with the Greek player.

 

Additional IPTO stake seen offered within next three months

The government, gearing up for a series of energy sector privatizations, plans to hasten the sale of an additional yet unspecified stake in power grid operator IPTO. The procedure could now be launched within the next three months.

Investor interest in IPTO has risen as the operator’s asset value is projected to increase sharply over the next decade.

The Greek State currently controls a 51 percent share of IPTO, directly and indirectly. Late in 2019, State Grid Corp of China (SGCC), the buyer of a 24 percent stake in IPTO and holder of priority rights should any additional stake be offered, expressed an interest to boost its stake in the operator and also acquire a 20 percent stake in subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnector, project promoter of the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection, a project budgeted at one billion euros.

The size of the additional IPTO stake to be placed for sale remains unclear, but, without a doubt, SGCC’s decision on whether or not to exercise its priority right will be influential.

Italy’s Terna, holding a 30 percent stake in CDP Reti, an Italian holding company, is also believed to be interested in the upcoming IPTO sale. SGCC would also be involved here as the Chinese company holds a 35 percent stake in CDP Reti. French operator RTE and a variety of funds are also considered believed to be considering the IPTO sale.

IPTO’s assets are seen rising from a present level of 1.5 billion euros to five billion euros over the next ten years as a result of the development of major grid interconnection projects to link the country’s Dodecanese and North Aegean Islands with the mainland.

Greece’s energy-sector privatizations will not be limited to gas utility DEPA’s two new entities, DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade, both underway, nor will there be a gap until the next sale, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, scheduled for September, energy ministry officials have informed. The Hellenic Petroleum ELPE sale will be deferred.

 

DEPA Infrastructure sale luring bidders, deadline Friday

The government and privatization fund TAIPED are expecting strong investor interest in the full sale of gas utility DEPA’s new entity DEPA Infrastructure, a procedure whose deadline for non-binding expression of interest expires this Friday at 5pm.

Authorities will not offer a deadline extension despite requests for more time, sources informed.

Italy’s Italgas, France’s Engie, Spain’s Reganosa as well as two major US funds, KKR and Blackrock, and, possibly, Australia’s Macquarie, are believed to be among the field of players eyeing the DEPA Infrastructure privatization. Senfluga, a consortium made up of Greek gas grid operator DESFA shareholders, is also considering participating in what should be a last-minute decision following related preparations.

Italgas, Italy’s biggest distribution network operator and third biggest in Europe, is believed to have held talks with fellow Italian company Eni for the acquisition of a 49 percent stake of gas distributor EDA Thess, covering the Thessaloniki and Thessaly areas. This stake is currently held by Eni subsidiary Eni Gas e Luce.

France’s Engie, also eyeing other opportunities in the Greek market, has partnered with Energean Oil & Gas and GEK-Terna with the intention of jointly bidding for an underground gas storage facility to be developed at a depleted offshore gas field in the south Kavala region.

TAIPED, the privatization fund, is offering DEPA’s 65 percent share in DEPA Infrastructure while Hellenic Petroleum ELPE is selling its 35 percent stake.

ELPE to acquire Juwi 204-MW solar park, Greece’s biggest

Hellenic Petroleum group subsidiary ELPE Renewables has agreed to buy an unfinished 204-MW solar energy project, Greece’s biggest, undertaken by Germany’s Juwi close to Kozani in Greece’s north, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has announced, noting the two sides will sign an agreement on February 17.

Juwi has already agreed to a 5.73 cents per KWh tariff rate for this project. The German company took part in a mixed (solar and wind) RES auction held by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, last April.

ELPE Renewables should be able to recommence the project’s development once the acquisition has been finalized. The solar energy park, located 15 km from Kozani, could be completed by the second half of 2021, it is estimated.

The total investment is expected to reach 150 million euros. The facility’s remaining construction work will create over 250 jobs, while locals and municipalities will be compensated 500,000 million euros annually through surcharges to be imposed over a 30-year period, the project’s expected lifespan.

The acquisition constitutes a decisive move for ELPE as it promises to cover more than two thirds of the group’s 300-MW short-term goal for installed capacity.

Established in 1996, Juwi is a member of the MVV Energie AG group, one of Germany’s leading energy corporations. Juwi has designed and developed 1,700 solar energy facilities with a total capacity of approximately 2,500 MW and 1,000 wind energy farms totaling roughly 2,300 MW. Its projects generate approximately 8 billion KWh of clean energy annually.

 

 

German players eyeing NECP opportunities ahead of Berlin forum

Greece’s major energy market opportunities, from the auto vehicle growth to decarbonization, renewable energy development, ambitious network investments and underwater cable interconnections are being eyed by German energy groups, preparing to participate at a high-level German-Hellenic Economic Forum next month.

The event, scheduled for March 9 in Berlin, is expected to be attended by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as a follow-up to a previous meeting between the two leaders in the German capital last August.

Greece’s new green agenda was tabled for the first time at that summer meeting, along with the idea to stage next month’s investment forum.

The Greek government, looking to execute an ambitious 44 billion-euro National Energy and Climate Plan by 2030, will gauge the level of German investor interest at the upcoming Berlin forum.

Leading German groups expected to participate at next month’s event include RWE, among the companies believed to be interested in supporting power utility PPC’s decarbonization effort, EON, eyeing opportunities at distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO; as well as Enercon, seeking wind energy partnership. Prospective partnerships with Greek players such as PPC, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), Mytilineos and Terna Energy are expected to be discussed.

 

Terna

Athens wants greater French hydrocarbon engagement

The government wants France’s Total to play a more active role in Greek offshore hydrocarbon exploration, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made clear during a meeting in Paris yesterday with the French group’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanné.

The potential of Greece’s hydrocarbon market, including offshore licenses south and southwest of Crete held by a Total-led consortium – it also features Exxon Mobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) – was the main focus of yesterday’s meeting.

Processing of seismic data collected from the Cretan offshore blocks has provided strong evidence of a deposit sharing similar attributes to Egypt’s Zohr gas field. However, this needs to be proved in practice. French officials have remained cautiously optimistic as they await initial drilling operations for a clearer picture.

Total’s plans for exploration within the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone, specifically at Block 8, for which Total shares a license with Italy’s Eni, were also discussed yesterday.

Turkish drillship Yavuz has sought to engage in illegal exploration activities in this area. French officials do not intend to intercept any Turkish moves at this stage but are expected to do so if the exploratory rights of Total and Eni are disputed once the companies decide to start exploring the area.

 

ELPE not on 2020 privatizations list despite priority status, unclear why

The schedule for the Greek State’s sale of its 35.47 percent stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) remains unclear despite this privatization being declared a priority by the New Democracy government immediately following its election victory last summer.

Speaking yesterday at an energy conference, Athens Energy Dialogues, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis offered a rundown of the government’s planned privatizations for 2020. ELPE was not on the list.

Signs of a slowdown in the ELPE plan emerged in early autumn when energy minister Costis Hatzidakis requested patience from investors for this particular sale. Ministry officials reiterated this call for patience yesterday.

Towards the end of 2019, the privatization fund TAIPED declared that its 2.4 billion-euro revenue target for 2020 would be achieved as a result of a series of planned privatizations.

TAIPED, at the time, included the ELPE sale on its privatization agenda for 2020, along with Athens International Airport and the two new gas utility DEPA entities, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure.

Some pundits have attributed the government’s ELPE delay to a decision by the Latsis Group, ELPE’s main shareholder with a 45.48 percent share, not to sell and not wish the entry of any new investor into the petroleum group’s equity make-up.

Certain industry experts have gone as far as to say that the ELPE privatization has been cancelled.

Others are attributing the ELPE sale delay to the launch of the DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure privatizations. ELPE holds a 35 percent stake in DEPA and these new entities, established to serve the DEPA privatization.

Also, less favorable international conditions at present cannot be overlooked. Hatzidakis, the energy minister, has, from early on, been adamant on selling at the right time, when international conditions are at an optimal level.

Improved Gazprom deal raises DEPA in the eyes of investors

Lower-price deals sealed or about to be sealed between gas utility DEPA and its international suppliers are among the factors the government is relying on for a successful privatization procedure of the gas utility, a procedure launched yesterday, beginning with DEPA Trade, one of DEPA’s two new entities formed for the sale.

DEPA is believed to have renegotiated a far more favorable supply deal with Russia’s Gazprom, the Greek utility’s biggest supplier.

Forty percent of DEPA’s natural gas orders from Gazprom will no longer be pegged to fluctuating international oil prices. Instead, this percentage of DEPA’s Gazprom orders will be linked to price levels of Dutch gas trading platform TTF, one of Europe’s biggest hubs. Just days ago, prices at TTF were about half those of pipeline gas. The other 60 percent of DEPA’s orders with Gazprom will remain oil indexed.

This development promises to make DEPA’s supply deals with Gazprom far more competitive. Prospective bidders already appear to be warming to the prospect.

Major Greek corporate groups such as Mytilineos, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) – already holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA and considering teaming up with its Elpedison partner Edison for the DEPA sale – GEK Terna and Motor Oil are believed to be gearing up for bids. The Copelouzos group’s involvement in the DEPA Trade sale is considered certain – in a partnership with Czech entrepreneur Karel Komarek, holding a key stake in Greek lottery OPAP.

ELPE-Edison granted extra 18 months for troubled Patras license

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, the local partner of Gulf of Patras license in western Greece, has been granted an 18-month extension to complete second-phase work at the license. Project delays have been attributed to inadequate port infrastructure and bureaucracy.

ELPE, joined by Edison as a consortium partner for this hydrocarbon project, requested more time to complete the second phase, including exploratory drilling.

The consortium was expected to conduct its first drilling operation at the Gulf of Patras license this year but has been slowed down by insufficient port facilities at the regional Patras and Astakos ports, as well as environmental licensing procedures, according to sources.

ELPE and Edison require adequate port facilities, including storage, to ship in the project’s drilling equipment.

The Gulf of Patras drilling operation is seen as a project that could prompt further hydrocarbon investments, especially if this field’s probable oil deposit, estimated at 140 million barrels, is confirmed.

Bureaucracy and a lack of strategic planning for development of the country’s upstream sector has kept investors at a distance, oil company officials and industry experts have repeatedly noted over a number of years

The regional infrastructure’s inability to serve this venture’s needs has frustrated officials. The Gulf of Patras tender was launched back in 2012.

A previous extension had given the ELPE-Edison consortium until April 2, 2018 to complete the project’s second phase. This deadline has now been extended to October, 2, 2021.

 

Gov’t to hasten hydrogen market development amid investment interest

Procedures leading to the establishment of Greek hydrogen market appear set to progress faster than expected, the government’s strategic decision for greater renewable energy penetration of the energy market, investment interest and Germany’s upcoming EU presidency being catalysts. The government will aim to implement related regulatory framework by July.

Hydrogen tariffs, sector support, technical prerequisites for the infusion of hydrogen into the natural gas network, as well as the determination of maximum mix levels for the two fuels are among the issues included in the new framework, to be accompanied by a sustainability study on related facilities.

Feasibility studies examining the level of competitiveness of such infrastructure as well as costs do not exist at present. They need to be conducted so as to enable authorities to determine the number of units that can enter the Greek market.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has publically expressed interest to develop the country’s first hydrogen refueling station for vehicles. Greek utility DEPA and Italy’s Snam have also expressed interest. Snam reiterated its interest at a New Year company event staged yesterday by Greek gas grid operator DESFA. Snam is a main shareholder, along with Enagas and Fluxys.

A recent McKinsey study commissioned by Snam for the Italian market showed that hydrogen can cover 23 percent of domestic energy demand in 2050 amid a 95 percent decarbonized market.

Elpedison partners still undecided on joint bid for DEPA Trade

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Italy’s Edison, co-owners of energy company Elpedison through a successful 50-50 joint venture, have yet to decide whether they will submit a joint bid for DEPA Trade, a new entity formed by gas utility DEPA as part of its privatization.

The two partners, who now fully own Elpedison following last June’s departure by Ellaktor (22.73%) and Elvalhalkor (1.48%), are keen to place greater emphasis on energy production and retail supply growth at their venture, both in electricity and natural gas.

Investors will be offered the Greek State’s 65 percent stake in DEPA Trade. ELPE controls the other 35 percent.

Elpedison officials have held preliminary talks on the DEPA Trade sale but decided to delay a decision for later on, energypress sources informed. Privatization fund TAIPED has not yet launched the DEPA Trade sale. Bidders are expected to face a March deadline.

The Elpedison partners are believed to have tabled contrasting approaches in their effort to make a joint bid for ELPE Trade, according to some sources. However, both sides have hinted that a solution can be found. An announcement on final decisions will not take long, company officials told energypress.

Both sides have rejected rumors of a breakdown in talks and preparations for separate bids.

If they unite and submit the winning joint bid for DEPA Trade, the ELPE and Edison officials will need to forge a unification plan bringing together DEPA Trade and Elpedison.

 

DEPA Trade sale launch near, Middle East tension a concern

The launch of a privatization procedure offering 100 percent of DEPA Trade, a new entity established by gas utility DEPA for the sale, is near, as long as the heightened tension in the Middle East does not lead to extreme events and turbulent market conditions.

Officials at privatization fund TAIPED and the energy ministry are aiming for a start before the end of January, while, according to some sources, the sale’s launch may take place at the end of next week.

The heightened tension in the Middle East is a concern for the organizers of this privatization as extreme developments could unsettle oil and gas markets to an extent that would render the current period unsuitable for the DEPA Trade sale. If so, officials may need to delay the sale’s launch.

TAIPED and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA, are close to reaching an agreement on the sale process of this stake should ELPE not emerge as the sale’s winning bidder. The petroleum group intends to seek a full acquisition in the DEPA sale. The details of a clause requiring ELPE to sell its stake, if the group fails to submit the winning bid, are now being worked on.

The agreement between TAIPED and ELPE will need to be endorsed by the boards of both entities.

 

 

DEPA, ELPE, south Kavala gas storage privatizations in 2020

The privatizations of gas utility DEPA – through two separate tenders offering the utility’s trade and infrastructure divisions that have resulted from a split designed for the sale – as well as the Greek State’s 35.48 percent stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), stand as the major sales planned by privatization fund TAIPED in 2020.

TAIPED also plans to push ahead with a tender for the conversion of a depleted natural gas field in the offshore South Kavala region into an underground gas storage facility in the New Year.

The DEPA and ELPE privatizations are expected to raise one billion euros from a target of 2.4 billion euros set for 2020. If achieved, this amount will represent a new privatization revenue record for TAIPED.

The DEPA Infrastructure tender is already in progress. Participants are due to express non-binding interest by February 14. The DEPA Trade tender is expected to be launched within January. TAIPED is confident both these sales can be completed in 2020.

A planned privatization to offer a 30 percent stake in Athens International Airport ranks as TAIPED’s other major sale plan for 2020. The Greek State currently holds a 55 percent stake in Athens International Airport S.A. or AIA, the airport authority that owns and manages Athens International Airport.

DEPA Infrastructure sale first-round deadline set for Feb.14

Interested buyers of DEPA Infrastructure, a new entity emerging from a split at gas utility DEPA, have until February 14 to express non-binding first-round interest in its sale, offering the entire stake, the privatization fund TAIPED has announced.

TAIPED is selling the Greek State’s 65 percent stake and Hellenic Petroleum has contributed its full 35 percent stake.

Strategic investors as well as investment funds seeking strong yields have already displayed strong interest in the sale, TAIPED sources have informed media.

Procedures concerning the privatization of DEPA’s other new entity, DEPA Trade, are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2020. It remains unclear whether ELPE will contribute its 35 percent DEPA stake to this sale. ELPE has noted it will seek to take full control of this new company by acquiring the other 65 percent.

Greek groups, all involved in the energy sector, and foreign groups, some of which have already entered the country’s energy market, are interested in DEPA Trade, TAIPED sources added.