Gas market competition intensifies, TAP lowering prices

Competition has intensified in the country’s wholesale gas market at a time of changing conditions and negotiations for 2021 deals between importers and major-scale consumers, namely electricity producers and industrial enterprises.

Many gas supply contracts expired at the end of 2020, requiring a large number of players to renegotiate deals. Some of these big consumers have already reached new agreements with gas wholesalers.

Market conditions have changed considerably compared to a year earlier. Supply of Azeri gas through the new TAP route has already begun to Greece as well as Bulgaria, increasing overall supply, which has obliged, and permitted, gas utility DEPA to pursue a more aggressive pricing policy as the company pushes to absorb quantities it has committed to through clauses in existing contracts.

Also, the TAP-related increase of gas supply to Bulgaria, combined with this country’s inflow of Russian gas through oil-indexed price agreements, currently relatively cheaper, is now depriving Greek wholesale gas companies of entry into a neighboring market that was available for trading activity last year.

Furthermore, conditions have also been impacted by a competition committee decision no longer requiring DEPA to stage gas auctions to make available a share of its gas orders to rival traders. This measure was introduced and maintained to help liberalize Greece’s gas market.

The new conditions are pushing Greek traders towards more competitive pricing policies. They appear to have acknowledged that their profit margins will be narrower in 2021.

DEPA, helped by the fact that a sizeable proportion of its gas purchases is oil-indexed, is said to be playing a dominant role in the ongoing negotiations for new contracts with customers.

It should be pointed out that, unlike rival gas importers such as Mytilineos, Elpedison and Heron, all benefitting through self-consumption of a large part of their gas orders for gas-fired power stations they operate, DEPA does not self-consume.

Prometheus Gas, a member of the Copelouzos group, remains a formidable player, while the power utility PPC and petroleum company Motor Oil are less influential in the wholesale gas market.

Higher LNG prices, compared to pipeline gas, will decrease demand for LNG this year and weaken the interest of traders for LNG supply through gas grid operator DESFA’s Revythoussa terminal on the islet just off Athens. Last year, this facility was a hot spot of trading activity as a result of lower-priced LNG.

PPC gains 3% in retail market for November share of 66.3%

Power utility PPC, the retail electricity market leader, gained an entire three percentage points in November, capturing a 66.33 percent share, up from 63.2 percent a month earlier, according to a latest energy exchange report.

The rankings among the market’s independent suppliers remained unchanged but minor market share gains and losses were reported for the month.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, shed over half a percentage point, dropping from 8.6 percent in October to 7.99 percent in November, but remained at the forefront among the independent suppliers.

Second-placed Heron also retreated slightly, to 6.55 percent in November from 6.97 percent in October, as did Elpedison, ranked third, to 4.67 percent from 5.05 percent.

Next in the rankings, NRG’s market share remained virtually unchanged, ending November at 3.37 percent from 3.38 percent in October.

Watt+Volt followed with a 2.69 share of the retail electricity market, up marginally from 2.67 percent, Volterra was next with 2.37 percent from 2.55 percent, Fysiko Aerio (Attiki GSC) made a slight gain to reach 1.61 percent from 1.48 percent, Zenith upped its share to 1.26 percent from 1.19 percent, Volton improved to 1.13 percent from 1.04 percent, and KEN remained virtually unchanged, at 0.59 percent from 0.6 percent.

Electricity exports increased and imports decreased in November, compared to a month earlier, the energy exchange data showed.

PPC’s business plan for 2021 to 2023 projects a reduction in customers from 6.1 million, last September, to 4.7 million, for a market share of 54 percent.

RAE discusses balancing market ceiling with producers

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is staging a series of meetings today with major-scale electricity producers to discuss its proposal, forwarded for public consultation last Thursday, for the imposition of a price ceiling on offers made by producers in the balancing market. Its price levels have risen sharply since a launch several weeks ago as part of the target model’s new markets.

Representatives of three electricity producers, power utility PPC, Protergia and Elpedison, all vertically integrated, have been invited by the authority to separately present their views on its price-ceiling proposal before they submit their official views to the matter’s public consultation procedure by tomorrow morning’s 11am deadline.

Producers operating gas-fueled power stations are generally believed to oppose the prospect of a price ceiling on their offers, as they consider the balancing market to be a useful tool measuring supply and demand in the electricity market, as is the case around Europe.

RAE has attached a three-month limit on the duration of its price-ceiling proposal. Restrictive measures such as the authority’s proposal are generally not embraced by the European Commission, as RAE chief executive Thanassis Dagoumas has admitted.

Non vertically integrated electricity suppliers, hit hard by price rises in the wholesale electricity market, of which the balancing market is a component, have called for the restrictive measure to take retroactive effect. This is considered an unlikely prospect by market officials.

Many critics of the target model preparation procedure had warned that its new markets should not begin operating unless a RAE monitoring mechanism is in full working order.

Latest market data published by power grid operator IPTO showed a mild de-escalation of balancing market price levels to between 12 and 13 euros per MWh for December 7 to 13, the new target model’s sixth week, but these levels are still regarded as being excessive.

Lignite unit output up, target model overpricing a factor

Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, temporarily covering for gas-fueled plants undergoing maintenance work and also favored by power grid operator IPTO as a result of excessive target model market prices demanded by independent producers, have made somewhat of a production comeback despite the urgency of the government and state-owned utility to withdraw these high-cost units as soon as possible.

On December 3, eight of the country’s ten remaining lignite-fired power stations operated throughout the day, most close to full capacity.

Agios Dimitrios I, III, IV and V, Kardia III and IV, Meliti and Megalopoli IV covered almost one third of the country’s total electricity demand, supplying over 40,000 MWh of the day’s 139,000 MWh to the grid.

In recent days, between six and seven lignite-fired power stations have been called into action.

Heron’s two gas-fueled power stations are currently sidelined for service work as are two such units respectively operated by Elpedison and PPC in Thessaloniki and Lavrio, close to Athens. Furthermore, overpricing in the day-ahead market by independent producers has prompted IPTO to seek lignite unit coverage.

PPC is still operating at least four lignite-fired power stations on a daily basis, despite related losses, to cover telethermal needs in cities of the west Macedonia and Megalopoli regions.

The power utility intends to hasten the withdrawal of its Megalopoli III, Kardia III and IV lignite-fired units, all set to close in 2021, according to an updated PPC business plan announced earlier this month.

Elpedison’s Thessaloniki power station upgraded, target model-fit

Elpedison’s power station in Thessaloniki, temporarily withdrawn on September 28 for a programmed upgrade, is set to start operating again at the end of this week.

The upgrade work, an investment worth approximately 20 million euros, was conducted to enhance the facility’s flexibility and performance, attributes that benefit in the target model’s new markets. The upgrade has also reduced the facility’s maintenance costs.

The power station’s increased flexibility enables operating level increase and decrease adjustments to be made with greater ease, while ignition emissions will now be far lower.

Elpedison has made clear its intent to invest in flexibility as demand for flexible units is expected to increase in the new target model framework.

The company’s Thessaloniki unit, a 400-MW facility constructed in 2006, had emerged as the first privately owned natural gas-fired power station in Greece.

Its development, including supplementary units needed to link the power station with the high-voltage and natural gas networks, cost a total of 250 million euros.

ELPE lockdown impact fears expressed amid poorer conditions

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE chief executive Andreas Siamissis has expressed fears of the latest lockdown’s impact on fuel consumption, which he will believes will be considerable, during a presentation of third quarter results to analysts.

Narrowed refining margins, which dropped to historic lows during the third quarter, combined with a drop in demand, resulted in unprecedently difficult conditions, ELPE officials noted.

However, rays of hope have emerged for an imminent improvement in refining margins, they added.

Elpedison, ELPE’s joint energy venture with Italy’s Edison, registered a strong power generation performance, up 31 percent in the nine-month period, aided by competitively priced LNG for its production units, company officials informed.

Electricity sales rose by 5 percent, while operating profit reached 43 million euros, from 15 million euros a year earlier.

As for the natural gas market, the commercial activity of gas utility DEPA, in which ELPE holds a 35 percent stake, increased in the third quarter.

DEPA – whose two new entities, DEPA Commercial and DEPA Infrastructure, are both headed for privatization in a procedure that is expected to be completed by March, 2021 – reported a 3Q volume-based sales increase of 48 percent. Its EBITDA figure moved up to 18 million euros, up from 6 million euros a year earlier.

ELPE’s list of imminent RES projects has more-than-doubled compared to last year, the company officials informed.

Extraordinary conditions push SMP as high as €105 per MWh

Extraordinary conditions resulting from coinciding temporary closures of various power facilities, both in Greece and abroad, have pushed up the System Marginal Price, or wholesale electricity, to levels of as much as 105 euros per MWh, as was the case yesterday.

Four domestic gas-fired power stations – Enthes (Elpedison), Heron CC, Lavrio IV and Protergia – were out of order yesterday, for different reasons.

Problems beyond the Greek border have made matters worse. Bulgaria’s 1,000-MW Kozloduy nuclear power plant is currently out of order. The Greek-Bulgarian line serves as a transit route towards North Macedonia as a line linking Bulgaria and North Macedonia is out of order. So, too, is a line linking Greece with Italy.

Power stations that rarely operate, such as an open-cycle Heron unit, needed to be called into action as a result of the problems on these various fronts. Their necessary contributions pushed the SMP to far higher levels.

Three power utility PPC lignite-fired power stations, Agios Dimitrios II and III and Melitis, along with PPC’s gas-fired power stations Aliveri V, Lavrio V, Komotini, Megalopoli V, as well as units run by the independent energy firms Heron, Thisvi and Corinth Power, all needed to be called into action to cover the grid’s needs.

The market appears to have normalized for today. SMP levels are down to relatively satisfactory levels, averaging 44.49 euros per MWh, primarily as a result of significant RES contributions, covering more than 50 percent of the overall demand, 123.993 GWh.

The lignite-fired power stations used yesterday – Agios Dimitrios II and III and Melitis – will remain closed today.

GEK TERNA, Elpedison close to decisions on gas-fueled units

GEK TERNA and Elpedison are expected to announce finalized investment decisions for new gas-fueled power stations with total capacity over 1,400 MW within the next two months, energypress sources informed.

GEK TERNA plans to develop a 660-MW power station at the industrial zone of Komotini, northeastern Greece, while Elpedison, a joint venture involving Hellenic Petroleum ELPE and Italy’s Edison, intends to construct units with a total capacity of 826 MW at the ELPE facilities in Thessaloniki.

These project plans are estimated to be worth a total of at least 600 million euros.

The energy companies have already received energy production licenses as well as other licensing requirements, including environmental permits, for these prospective units, regarded as mature investment plans.

Both companies are awaiting new CAT mechanism details for gas-fueled power stations before finalizing their investment plans. The economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, plus the anticipation of a second wave, are also crucial factors influencing the thinking behind these investment decisions.

Market capacity exists for new combined-cycle gas-fueled power stations during the energy transition over the next ten to 15 years, electricity market officials insist.

The planned withdrawal of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations over the next three or so years combined with a lack of development in RES energy storage systems offers gas-fueled power generation an opportunity to cover capacity to be lost by lignite-fired power station closures.

A recent BloombergNEF report noted big natural gas-fueled power stations are not necessary. However, market officials point to the National Energy and Climate Plan as proof of the need for such units.

The Mytilineos group is developing an 826-MW CCGT in the Agios Nikolaos area of Boetia, northwest of Athens, with the aim of a launch in late-2021.

PPC secures 3 of 4.5 GW offered at last week’s flexibility auction

Power utility PPC secured the largest quantities at last Friday’s flexibility remuneration auction, obtaining 3 GW of a total of 4.5 GW made available to bidders, early data has shown.

Also, Mytilineos-Protergia secured 630 MW, followed by Elpedison with 469 MW and Heron with 339 MW.

The August 14 auction, staged by power grid operator IPTO, offered bidders flexibility remuneration rights for a period covering August 15 to October 31 this year.

A total flexibility capacity of 4,500 MW was offered at a starting price of 39,000 euros per MW, annually.

Gas supplier switching up 164% in newly liberalized gas market

A total of 20,134 gas company customers, 4.18 percent of 481,838 in total, switched suppliers in 2019, data provided by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has shown.

This mobility highlights the Greek retail gas market’s heightened level of competition less than three years since its liberalization and the determination of customers to secure the best possible deals.

In 2018, when the country’s retail gas market was liberalized, 7,611 customers of 441,330 in total, a far lower 1.72 percent, switched gas suppliers.

These figures represent a 164 percent rise, between 2018 and 2019, of customers switching gas suppliers.

Businesses registered the greatest level of mobility, followed by household customers and industrial customers, in that order, both in terms of gas amounts used and number of supply connections.

The supplier switching rate in the household category was 4.12 percent in 2019, up from 1.69 percent in 2018. In the business category, 5.72 percent of consumers switched suppliers in 2019, up from 2.41 percent in 2018.

On the contrary, supplier switching in the industrial customer category fell sharply to 3.17 percent in 2019 from 8.78 percent in 2018.

In numbers, 19,180 household consumers of 465,018 in total changed gas suppliers in 2019. In the business category, 944 of 16,505 made switches to new suppliers last year. As for the industrial category, 10 of 315 customers moved to new gas suppliers in 2019.

Despite the increased level of customer mobility, two suppliers, Zenith and Fysiko Aerio, remained dominant, capturing market shares of 65.51 and 25.76 percent, respectively, in terms of number of connections, according to the RAE data. The two frontrunners were followed by Mytilineos (2.85%), Elpedison (2.05%) and NRG (1.16%).

These market shares and rankings differ when based on gas volume. Under these terms, Zenith’s share was 35.95 percent in 2019, while Fysiko Aerio captured a 31.13 percent share. They were followed by PPC (5.96%), Mytilineos (5.44%), Heron (5.25%), Elpedison (5.21%) and DEPA (3.51%), among a field of smaller players.

 

 

Electricity supplier switching by consumers up 89% in 2019

Consumers switching electricity suppliers increased sharply by 89 percent in 2019, a report by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has shown.

A total of 576,436 consumers, 8.5 percent of the 6,783,075 consumers in total, switched suppliers in 2019, up from 4.51 percent in 2018, the report showed.

This sharp rise in consumer switches was attributed to growing consumer confidence in independent electricity suppliers as well as the effectiveness of discounts and various other offers made available by these suppliers to attract customers. Put simply, competition in the Greek electricity market appears to be intensifying.

Household electricity consumers showed the greatest degree of mobility, followed by mid and high-voltage consumers, or businesses and industrial consumers, the RAE report observed.

In the mid-voltage category, 834 business and industrial consumers of 9,071 in total, or 9.19 percent, switched electricity suppliers in 2019, according to the report.

Despite the increased customer mobility, power utility PPC remained dominant in 2019, supplying electricity to 5,694,627 consumers, or 83.95 percent of the 6,783,075 in total, the report showed. In terms of consumption, PPC held a 71.13 percent share, supplying 27.7 million MWh last year.

Independent supplier Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, was ranked second in terms of total number of customers in 2019, supplying to 181,232 customers, the report noted.

Elpedison was ranked third with 171,143 customers, followed by Heron (140,812), Watt & Volt (127,364), Zenith (73,968), Volton (69,688), NRG (52,961), Fysiko Aerio (39,881), Volterra (35,748) and KEN (33,997).

A total of 24 independent suppliers are active in Greece’s electricity market.

GEK TERNA set to develop new 660-MW thermal unit

GEK TERNA is expected to finance its development of a gas-fueled power station with a 660-MW capacity in Komotini, northeastern Greece, through bond funds totaling 500 million euros, sources have informed.

In a company statement, GEK TERNA noted it intends to use 400 million of 500 million euros in bond funds to finance the group’s investment program, which includes gas-fueled power generation.

GEK TERNA is close to reaching an investment decision on this facility, the sources added. It would represent the third thermal unit involving the group.

GEK TERNA, which has the potential to play a key role in renewable energy through Terna Energy, is not overlooking thermal-unit developments.

Greece’s decarbonization strategy and the dominance of natural gas as the main fuel during the energy transition are two factors creating major opportunities for the GEK TERNA group.

Other vertically integrated electricity producers are also preparing new thermal facilities. The Mytilineos group is already constructing an 826-MW gas-fueled power station in the Boetia area, slightly northwest of Athens. This unit is expected to be launched next year.

A licensing procedure by Elpedison, also for an 826-MW facility, in Thessaloniki, is maturing.

In addition, the Copelouzos group is making progress on licensing for a 660-MW facility in Alexadroupoli, northeastern Greece. Company official Kostas Sifneos recently said this facility’s launch is scheduled for 2022.

The country’s big energy players are also continuing to eye Balkan markets for electricity exports, pundits informed.

Universal supply service overcharge set at 12%

Electricity consumers resorting to the universal supply service, covering the energy needs of households and small businesses shunned by suppliers for failing to be punctual with payments, will face tariff levels 12 percent over the regular market rate, according to a related ministerial decision.

The country’s five biggest electricity suppliers, in terms of retail market share, will need to share the pool of old and new unwanted customers and provide the universal supply service.

Previously, the market leader – consistently PPC – was forced to offer the service alone after suppliers chose not to submit bids to related universal service tenders.

Under the service’s new rules, the highest tariff rate among the top five suppliers will serve as the base for the 12 percent overcharge.

PPC, still dominating Greece’s retail electricity market with a 90 percent share of power meters, Protergia (Mytilineos), Heron, Elpedison – all three control 3 percent each – and NRG (1%) are the top five suppliers who, by law, must offer the universal supply service.

 

 

PPC, majors face 20% sale limit on output for bilateral contracts

Vertically integrated electricity producers will be permitted to sell up to 20 percent of production through mutual agreements once the target model is launched, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided, ultimately doubling a 10 percent limited proposed by the Greek stock exchange, energypress sources have informed.

RAE reached its decision to set the limit at 20 percent after considering arguments presented by producers and sector authorities during consultation.

The limit takes into effect power utility PPC, dominating the retail market, as well as all integrated producers with retail market shares of more than 4 percent – namely, as things stand, Protergia, Heron and Elpedison, all with over 4 percent for quite some time now.

This decision by RAE is one of the last pending issues concerning energy exchange markets, recently rescheduled to begin operating on September 17, if all goes according to plan from here on.

ESAI/HAIPP, the Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers, had proposed a limit of between 5 and 10 percent for PPC’s mutual agreements and forward contracts, and proportional limits for vertically integrated electricity producers with market shares of more than 4 percent.

PPC, which, from the outset, pushed for a 20 percent limit, based its argument on a study by global energy consulting company ECCO International, according to which the sale limit on output should range between 10 and 20 percent.

 

Electromobility creating various opportunities, players preparing

Besides the auto industry and recharging network investments, the country’s push towards electromobility, strongly supported by a draft bill delivered by the government yesterday for consultation, is also creating various other new business opportunities.

Enterprises active in battery and recharging technology, spare parts for electric cars and e-bikes, for example, can expect production opportunities.

Business opportunities are emerging for electricity companies, fuel companies, network owners and operators, recharging technology manufacturers and technology firms.

The government’s draft bill includes provisions enabling fuel stations, shopping centers, super markets, parking lots, as well as municipalities and prefectures to install recharging stations. An extensive, widely accessible recharging network will be pivotal to the country’s overall electromobility effort.

The draft bill also includes a provision for the establishment of electric vehicle charging operators, expected to primarily develop their own recharging stations, at locations either owned by them or prospective partners.

The operators will also be able to collaborate with shopping centers, super markets, municipalities and any other entities wanting to install recharging stations but lacking the size or interest to get too involved with more complex procedures.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has already announced the establishment of a subsidiary to focus on the energy group’s electromobility interests. Also, Motor Oil has taken its first steps, mainly through NRG, the group’s supply firm.

Both these major energy groups have already installed some recharging stations along highways and at other points. All major fuel companies plan to follow suit.

The country’s major independent electricity suppliers, Heron, Elpedison and Protergia, plus smaller players, have all incorporated electromobility into their strategic plans.

Power utility PPC, aspiring to dominate this sector, has already announced three MoUs, with the AB Vasilopoulos supermarket chain, Beat taxi service, and airport operator Fraport Greece. PPC aims to have installed 1,000 recharging stations around Greece over the next two to three years.

Some electricity suppliers have formed partnerships with car industries. Elpedison has teamed up with Mercedes Benz Hellas, Motor Oil’s NRG with BMW, and Protergia with Kosmocar-Volkswagen.

 

PPC mid-voltage market share tumbles to 30%, competition intense

Power utility PPC’s market share in the mid-voltage category, where competition has intensified, slid to 30.2 percent in May, well below its 53.72 percent share in January, making way for independent suppliers who have made significant gains since the beginning of the year.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, ranked second in the mid-voltage market, was the biggest gainer during the five-month period, increasing its mid-voltage market share to 20.02 percent in May, nearly double January’s 12.19 percent.

Heron follows with 13.74 percent, up from 9.24 percent in January. Elpedison is ranked fourth with 9.34 percent, from 6.72 percent in January. NRG is next, closely behind, with a 7.74 percent mid-voltage market share, from 5.16 percent at the beginning of the year.

No major market-share changes have been reported in the high and low-voltage categories.

Overall – high, mid and low-voltage categories – PPC captured 66.27 percent of the market in May, slightly below the previous month’s 67.25 percent.

Protergia is ranked second, overall, with a 7.31 percent share, up from 6.84 percent in April. Heron is in third place with 6.27 percent, gaining from the previous month’s 5.81 percent. Elpedison follows with 4.97 percent, down from 5.06 percent in April.

Top five taking on universal supply service, tender futile

A tender staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, offering electricity suppliers a two-year contract for universal supply service covering the needs of consumers who have been shunned for not being punctual with payments, has failed to produce a result.

Though the outcome of this procedure remains consistent with results of equivalent tenders in previous years, an imminent change of rules will require the electricity market’s top five suppliers, based on market share, to assume the universal supply service.  Higher tariffs are charged.

Until now, power utility PPC, as market leader, was forced to take on the job alone.

A ministerial decision on the rule change is expected to be delivered by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas within the next few days.

The universal electricity supply service’s two-year contract starts on June 23.

Based on market data for April, the Greek retail electricity market’s top five suppliers are: PPC, Protergia, Heron, Elpedison and Watt+Volt. NRG trails slightly behind in sixth place.

Unlike other European markets, where the universal electricity supply service is a desirable venture, and, as a result, warrants competitive procedures, the equivalent service in Greece is typically neglected by suppliers as it has been abused by non-punctual electricity consumers exploiting the service as a safe haven.

Electricity demand down 12.6% in April, industrial use slumps 23.6%

Electricity demand slumped 12.6 percent in April compared to the same month a year earlier, the biggest drop registered by high-voltage industrial consumers, forced to suspend or restrict output during the lockdown, power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report has shown.

Industrial electricity consumption in April fell sharply by 23.6 percent, the IPTO report showed.

The drop in electricity consumption linked to mining activity was even sharper, falling 55.5 percent in April. Besides the lockdown, this drop was also attributed to significant operational restrictions implemented at power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power plants.

Electricity generation in April fell by 3.2 percent, to 2,893 GWh compared to 2,990 during the same month a year earlier, according to the data.

This reduction was mild compared to major shifts observed in sources of generation. Lignite-based generation fell by 62.7 percent year-on-year, confirming, most emphatically, the commencement of PPC’s decarbonization effort.

High costs for lignite-based generation severely reduced the operational time of PPC’s lignite-fired power plants, limiting lignite’s share of the electricity production mix to just 10 percent in April.

On the contrary, the production share of interconnected RES facilities, benefiting from favorable conditions, rose sharply by 33.9 percent, year-on-year, to capture a market-leading 36 percent share of overall electricity generation in April.

Natural gas-fired power plants followed with a 30 percent share following an 11 percent year-on-year rise in output.

Electricity imports (grid interconnections) contributed 18 percent, while hydropower facilities increased their output by 19.8 percent to capture a 6 percent share in April.

PPC provided 951 GWh, or 56.6 percent of the production, while independent producers covered 43.4 percent.

Among the independent producers, Mytilineos led the way with 228.1 GWh, followed by Elpedison (210.4 GWh), Korinthos Power (154.1 GWh) and Heron II (136.3 GWh).

The IPTO data on generation highlights an increasing shift towards cleaner energy sources.

 

 

Wholesale electricity prices rising, up to €47.30/MWh today

Wholesale electricity prices, determined by the System Marginal Price, are rebounding following a significant drop over the past few weeks.

The rise is being fueled by an anticipated increase in demand. A sidelined 600-MW line linking Greece with Bulgaria, depriving the system of electricity imports via this route, as well as a disruption in operations at an Elpedison power plant in Thessaloniki are two other contributing factors.

In addition, the Revythoussa LNG terminal just off Athens is not under any pressure, a factor subduing gas-fired unit bids and subsequently lowering the SMP.

Based on grid orders placed for today, the SMP has climbed to 47.30 euros per MWh, up from a level of around 30 euros per MWh five days earlier and 14.20 euros per MWh on May 1. Bidding by units has gradually risen since early May.

Demand, today, for domestic consumption and exports is estimated to reach 127 GWh, 40 percent of which is planned to be covered by natural gas-fired power stations, 30 percent by RES and hydropower plants, 23 percent by electricity imports, and 7 percent by lignite-fired power stations.

The SMP level will be determined by gas-fired power stations for 22 hours today, lignite-based generation will shape the price for one hour and imports for the remaining hour.

Energy groups pressing ahead with natural gas-fired unit plans

The country’s major energy groups are pushing ahead with investment plans for new gas-fired power stations despite the pandemic’s unprecedented impact on the economy and electricity market.

Mytilineos, a vertically integrated group at the forefront of electricity production and supply, began constructing an 826-MW energy center at Agios Nikolaos in the Viotia area, slightly northwest of Athens, last October and is continuing to press ahead with this project.

Investment plans by other players are also maturing. GEK-TERNA is moving ahead with licensing procedures for a 660-MW unit in Komotini, northeastern Greece. The Copelouzos group is paving the way for a 660-MW facility in Alexandroupoli, also in the northeast, while Elpedison is carrying on with procedures for an 826-MW power station in Thessaloniki.

Copelouzos could partner with an investor for the group’s Alexandroupoli project, sources informed.

All the aforementioned corporate groups are positioning themselves in a new energy landscape being shaped by the dominant role of natural gas in the transition towards renewable energy and cleaner energy sources.

This trend became very apparent during the lockdown in Greece. Natural gas and the RES sector covered 60 percent of domestic electricity demand in March.

Power utility PPC is pushing ahead with its decarbonization program without any backtracking, despite the crisis. This is creating a need for new and modern gas-fired power stations.

Furthermore, Greek energy groups are continuing to eye Balkan markets for prospective electricity exports. Electricity generation in the neighboring region has not been satisfactorily upgraded in recent decades, market officials pointed out.

Vertically integrated groups are also eagerly anticipating a new permanent CAT mechanism.

Natural gas bill payments down 30% in last two months

Natural gas bill payments have plunged by 30 percent over the past two-month period following a milder single-digit decline a month earlier, latest market data has shown.

Consumers have resorted to installment-based payback plans in far greater numbers during this two-month period of deterioration.

Suppliers, fearing a rise in unpaid receivables, are not hesitating to cut gas supply to customers who were already battling against energy debt prior to the pandemic and are now in deeper trouble. However, this supply-cut threat concerns a small percentage of customers.

Gas suppliers have yet to turn to the government for support measures, as was the case in the electricity sector. However, they may end up needing help in the form of low-interest loans, support mechanisms and other financial tools if the country’s tourism industry suffers a major setback this coming summer, as is feared.

Zenith and EPA Attiki (Fysiko Aerio) hold an 85.39 percent overall share of the country’s retail gas markets equipped with distribution networks – wider Athens area, Thessaloniki and Thessaly – data processed by energypress showed. Zenith leads with 46.14 percent and EPA Attiki follows with 39.25 percent.

EPA Thess, a former monopoly covering Thessaloniki and Thessaly, has lost approximately 15 percent of its market share to newly emerged rivals, the data showed. KEN, the biggest gainer, has captured 5.25 percent and is followed by Protergia (3.1%), Elpedison (1.91%), NRG (1.35%), Heron (1.05%), Watt+Volt (0.75%) and EFA (0.76%).

Revythoussa at full capacity in May, 10 LNG orders scheduled

A total of nine LNG shipments are scheduled to be delivered to the Revythoussa islet terminal just off Athens in May, taking the facility to full capacity for yet another month, data provided by gas grid operator DESFA has shown.

Three LNG tankers are scheduled to bring in three big orders for a total of ten recipients in May.

The inflow has already begun. Last week, the Maran Gas Ulysses, a tanker belonging to the Aggelikousis group, imported 149,254 cubic meters for four buyers, Motor Oil, Heron, gas utility DEPA and Mytilineos, whose share, 74,627 cubic meters, was the biggest.

The next shipment, scheduled to be delivered to the Revythoussa terminal on May 20 by the Gaslog tanker belonging to the Livanos group, will deliver 147,710 cubic meters of LNG for Elpedison and power utility PPC, taking the bigger share of the two buyers, 127,031 cubic meters.

A third and final LNG shipment for the month is scheduled to arrive May 31 on the British Saphire tanker, owned by BP. This vessel will bring in 121,123 cubic meters of LNG for DEPA and Elpedison, the bigger of the two buyers with a 64,993 cubic-meter order.

A total of five big LNG shipments are expected in June for orders placed by Mytilineos, Elpedison and DEPA.

Continual flow of LNG imports reshaping gas market

LNG is continuing to enter the Greek market through gas grid operator DESFA’s Revythoussa terminal just off Athens at a continual and elevated flow that is reshaping the overall gas market.

The Mytilineos group was the market leader in the first quarter, capturing a market share of more than 40 percent of gas imported into Greece either via the Revythoussa LNG terminal or pipeline infrastructure.

Gas utility DEPA, a more subdued LNG player in the first quarter as a result of take-or-pay costs linked to the company’s pipeline gas orders with Russia’s Gazprom and Turkey’s Botas, registered a first-quarter market share of approximately 30 percent.

Elpedison, propelled by the increased use of its gas-fueled power stations, captured a higher share of 15 percent.

The Greek gas market’s remaining 15 percent was shared by Prometheus Gas, power utility PPC and Heron.

PPC’s gas market share is expected to increase over the coming months as it has placed LNG orders via the Revythoussa terminal.

 

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.

 

Rising LNG imports reshaping gas market, led by Mytilineos

The drastic reduction of LNG price levels in recent times has not only boosted the amount of LNG imports into Greece but also reshaped market shares held by domestic gas traders.

Last year, natural gas consumption rose to a new record level of more than 60 TWh, up from 52.4 TWh in 2018 and 53.7 TWh in 2017.

LNG imports rose sharply to 30.92 TWh in 2019 from 11.59 TWh in 2018 and 15.54 TWh in 2017.

Overall gas consumption increased by approximately 15 percent last year while LNG import levels nearly tripled compared to two years earlier.

For the first time ever, LNG represented half of the country’s total gas consumption in 2019.

In 2019, a total of six traders imported LNG to the Revythoussa terminal, close to Athens, some of these for the first time.

Mytilineos made the most LNG shipments for a 50.2 percent share. Gas utility DEPA followed with a 26.1 percent. Elpedison was next with a 12.4 percent market share, trailed by power utility PPC (7.6%), Heron (2.4%) and Motor Oil (0.4%).

Market leader Mytilineos imported a total of ten LNG shipments to the Revythoussa terminal in 2019, some of these originating from the US, via Shell and BP, managing US shale gas exports.

A total of six LNG shipments to Greece in 2019 carried American shale gas. This trend is continuing this year. A 140,000 cubic-meter shipment of American LNG arrived at the Revythoussa terminal on January 25.

Mytilineos also chartered large-scale Q Flex tankers to Revythoussa in 2019, a development enabled by the completion of upgrade work at the LNG facility.

The Q Flex tankers, built in Qatar and offering a 201,000 cubic-meter capacity, were previously unable to approach the Greek terminal.

 

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.

RAE to change LNG terminal rules following congestion

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided to shape a new regulatory framework for gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, attributing recent congestion problems at the unit that have left companies without slots for 2020 to an outdated legal framework from 2011 no longer serving new market needs, energypress sources have informed.

The authority is expecting proposals from DESFA before it starts shaping a new regulatory framework for the LNG terminal. The new framework, whose details remain unknown, will not apply in 2020 but is planned for 2021.

Lawmakers behind the set of rules shaped nearly a decade ago viewed LNG as a supplementary fuel, but it has taken on a far more significant role in the Greek energy market over the past few years, the sources noted.

Stronger LNG demand expressed by major-scale consumers and energy groups has been driven by increased global LNG output and significantly lower prices compared to pipeline gas.

Companies left without slots on DESFA’s finalized unloading plan for 2020, just announced, will eventually secure places during the year as other qualifiers have overstated their slot requirements and will make resulting vacant capacities available, the sources said.

According to the finalized unloading plan, the Mytilineos group will import a total of 22 LNG shipments in 2020, beginning January 1, Elpedison has planned an equivalent number of shipments, gas utility DEPA has scheduled 14, including Algerian contracts, while Heron has scheduled five shipments.

Power utility PPC and Motor Oil Hellas, both importing LNG shipments through the Revythoussa terminal in 2019, have been left out.

 

No changes to LNG unloading plan for 2020, PPC, Motor Oil both miss out

Gas grid operator DESFA has announced a finalized unloading plan for 2020 at the Revythoussa LNG terminal without any changes to a temporary plan as participating players did not make any revisions to their initial requests for slots.

According to the finalized unloading plan, the Mytilineos group will import a total of 22 LNG shipments in 2020, beginning January 1, Elpedison has planned an equivalent number of shipments, gas utility DEPA has scheduled 14, including Algerian contracts, while Heron has scheduled five shipments.

Power utility PPC and Motor Oil Hellas, both importing LNG shipments through the Revythoussa terminal in 2019, have been left out of the facility’s unloading plan for 2020 as they failed to secure slots. Both companies have reacted firmly.

Players requesting bigger capacities are given priority, according to a DESFA formula, which remained largely unchanged, except for one revision, introducing tougher penalties for importers should they cancel capacity reservations.

Elpedison makes dynamic gas market move for 2020, Balkans also eyed

Elpedison’s strong turnout for gas grid operator DESFA’s annual reservation of LNG slots at the Revythoussa terminal just off Athens highlights the company’s strategic decision aiming for a leading role in the wholesale gas market, which it entered last year.

Elpedison has reserved 22 slots, roughly one-third of a total of 65 slots offered by DESFA for the terminal in 2020.

Mytilineos, the country’s biggest LNG importer, also booked 22 slots. Gas utility DEPA reserved 14 slots, while Heron booked seven slots.

Elpedison considers its involvement in the wholesale and retail gas markets just as important as its activities in the electricity market, chief executive Nikos Zahariadis underlined in comments to energypress. Elpedison will bolster its gas market presence in 2020, he added.

Storage and gasification capacity increases at the Revythoussa LNG terminal have played an instrumental role in helping liberalize Greece’s gas market. This development, along with lower-priced LNG, compared to pipeline gas, has created market prospects and opportunities. Elpedison operates two gas-fueled power plants.

Besides the Greek market, Elpedison, just like all other corporate groups importing and trading gas, also sees opportunities in Balkan markets. The company already sells modest gas quantities in Bulgaria and Romania but is aiming for a significant increase in 2020.

Greece is developing into a gas hub for supply to the wider southeast European region, Zahariadis, Elpedison’s chief executive, noted. Major international gas infrastructure projects such as the TAP, IGB, Alexandroupoli FSRU and underground gas storage facility in the offshore South Kavala region are expected to be completed within the next few years, he stressed.