Elvalhalkor given green light for gas-fueled power station

Elvalhalkor, the Hellenic Copper and Aluminium Industry, has been given approval by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for a prospective 566-MW gas-fueled power station in Thisvi, Boetia, slightly northwest of Athens.

The industrial enterprise now intends to continue with its licensing procedure, which will require time, before making a final investment decision later on.

Factors to determine the investment decision include the outcome of a measure offsetting industrial carbon emission costs, currently being looked at by the European Commission; the shape of a CAT remuneration plan for gas-fueled power stations; as well as the target model’s implementation method and schedule.

PPC is also considering such factors ahead of a decision on the development of a gas-fueled power station, either independently or through a partnership.

“Capacity exists for one or two gas-fueled power stations in the country’s overall energy mix, but these will require financial support,” noted PPC chief executive Giorgos Stassis. “At this point, conditions are not clear. We’re all waiting for the regulatory framework.”

Elvalhalkor power plant decision in first half of 2020, RES options considered

Elvalhalkor, the Hellenic Copper and Aluminium Industry, anticipating an imminent approval of its license application for gas-fueled electricity production, will decide whether it will develop a power plant during the first half of 2020, sources have informed.

This plan, however, could be put on hold if Elvalhalkor ends up deciding to pursue renewable energy options, either through acquisitions of existing units or development of its own.

Reduced RES installation and equipment costs have attracted the attention of Elvalhalkor officials, currently examining the company’s options.

Elvalhalkor’s application for a gas-fueled electricity production, submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, last July, caught the market by surprise, pundits, until then, believing the construction of new power plants would be limited to energy groups.

The Elvalhalkor power plant, if developed, would be constructed in Thisvi, Boetia, slightly northwest of Athens, as a 566-MW facility, to cover the industrial enterprise’s sizable energy needs.

Greece’s heavy industry has been driven towards electricity production as a result of high energy costs – wholesale energy in Greece is Europe’s most expensive – delays in the implementation of the target model, power utility PPC’s most recent failure to sell lignite units, and Europe’s political turn to cleaner energy sources.

PPC’s new strategic business plan, expected soon, as well as Greece’s revised National Energy and Climate Plan, to shape the country’s energy-sector developments over the next decade, will both be pivotal factors in Elvalhalkor’s decisions.

 

Ministry closing in on Kavala underground gas storage model

The energy ministry is close to deciding on a business model for a prospective underground gas storage facility in the offshore South Kavala region, the objective being to ensure the investment’s sustainability without overburdening consumers.

Numerous alternatives have been examined so far but a model applied in France and Italy appears to be the most favored, energypress sources informed.

The content of an upcoming joint ministerial decision is now at a mature stage following efforts that have now lasted nearly two years, energy ministry officials noted.

The ministerial decision will determine the licensing, development and exploitation terms for the project, 30km south of Kavala, where a depleted natural gas field is planned to be converted into an underground gas storage facility.

Swift progress is needed as Greece will need to request EU financing for the project, on the PCI list, in 2020. If the request is delayed until 2021 then the available funds could be severely diminished and absorbed by other European PCI-status projects.

The underground gas storage facility is vital for Greece’s electricity grid given the anticipated increase of gas consumption to be prompted by the planned development of combined cycle power plants. Five market players, Mytilineos, Elpedison, GEK TERNA, Elval Halkor and Karatzis, have expressed interest to develop such units.

Privatization fund TAIPED will take over proceedings for a tender once the project’s business model has been decided. The investment is expected to reach between 300 and 400 million euros. Its storage capacity is estimated at between 360 and 720 cubic meters.

Greece is the only EU member without an underground gas storage facility. All other member states maintain facilities covering at least 20 percent of their annual gas consumption needs. Many more similar facilities are currently being planned around Europe.

Independent energy players rushing to fill PPC lignite void

The country’s major independent energy groups are forging ahead with well anticipated plans to cover prospective electricity generating voids that will be created by power utility PPC’s withdrawal of lignite-fired units, now expected sooner following a government plan for a swifter withdrawal of all lignite-fired power stations, monopolized by the state-controlled power utility.

Speaking at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last week, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared full decarbonization would be achieved in Greece by 2028.

The Prime Minister’s pledge for a lignite-free Greece in less than a decade has not taken domestic independent energy groups by surprise. As early as three to four years ago, they had foreseen an approaching end of the lignite era in Greece and around Europe.

So, too, had PPC’s leadership. But the corporation’s lignite monopoly, lignite dependence of local economies in lignite-rich areas, especially Greece’s west Macedonia region, as well as perpetual political interests attached to PPC over the years, have all played roles that have prevented the utility from turning to other energy sources such as natural gas and renewables.

Over the past year or so, major energy groups in Greece such as Mytilineos, GEK-TERNA, Copelouzos and Elpedison, as well as enterprises such as Elvalhalkor and Karatzis, have taken decisions to seek licenses for the development of new gas-fired power stations. The foundation stone of a Mytilineos unit in Boetia (Viotia), northwest of Athens, will be placed by the Greek Prime Minister at a ceremony scheduled for tomorrow.

A planned decarbonization process in neighboring Bulgaria, electricity needs in North Macedonia, and Greek power grid operator IPTO’s imminent upgrade of grid interconnections with Balkan neighbors, especially the aforementioned countries, are all creating further electricity export opportunities for Greek market players.

 

 

Investors interested in PPC lignite units, challenges remain

With just 19 days remaining until the May 28 deadline for binding bids in the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required disinvestment of its Megalopoli and Meliti lignite power stations, prospective bidding teams appear interested but challenges remain for the sale, relaunched after an initial attempt failed to produce a result.

The candidates are believed to be preparing decent offers based on the current SPA terms, Greek electricity market conditions and EU climate change policies.

The Czech Republic’s Sev.En Energy, joined by GEK Terna; CHN Energy-Damco Energy (Copelouzos Group); Mytilineos; and Elvalhalkor are preparing worthy offers, sources have informed.

China’s CHN Energy and Sev.En Energy have emerged as the chief partners of their respective pairings, while their Greek associates have assumed negotiating roles with PPC.

Mytilineos and Elvalhalkor are both still looking to establish an association for the disinvestment and are also pushing for further sale term improvements.

The Greek participants are particularly keen to acquire the lignite units as a means of breaking PPC’s monopoly and avoiding any new sale attempt that would also bring hydropower units into the picture and end up attracting major European players with financial might.

Greek energy firms are looking to avoid the market entry of foreign competitors as this would lead to market share contractions and a loss of their leading domestic roles.

Despite the investor interest, the sale attempt remains challenging for all sides. The Megalopoli and Meliti lignite units, according to PPC’s financial results for 2018, incurred losses of more than 360 million euros. Also, CO2 emission right costs are continuing on their upward trajectory, while Brussels’ tough stance on carbon is  stiffening.

 

PPC sale contenders embrace coal cost cut, await SPA terms

Prospective buyers considering the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale package of lignite units, relaunched after an initial effort failed to produce a result, have responded favorably to news of a lignite supply cost reduction for Meliti, one of the stations up for sale, but they remain on hold awaiting the sale’s finalized SPA terms before reaching conclusions.

PPC has secured a lignite supply cost reduction of 28 percent for its Meliti power station following an agreement with the operator of the Ahlada mine feeding the power station. The lignite supply price has come down to 16.5 euros per ton from 23 euros per ton.

“The finalization of any pending issue is positive news [for the sale], but we will take positions once we see the SPA,” one source noted.

A total of six bidding teams are participating in the sale. Beijing Guohua Power Company Limited, joined by Damco Energy; China Western Power Industrial; the Czech Republic’s Sev.En Energy – Indoverse Coal Investments Limited; GEK Terna; Elvalhalkor; and Mytilineos make up the field of contenders.

 

New PPC lignite sale’s field of contenders disclosed today

The field of contenders entering the non-binding first round of main power utility PPC’s renewed sale of lignite units, a bailout requirement, will be unveiled to the utility this afternoon by HSBC, managing the sale’s expressions of interest procedure.

It remains unknown if two undisclosed investors from Russia and the USA, as well as China’s CMEC will emerge as additional entries to the previous sale attempt’s list of contenders, as was recently announced by PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis.

The PPC boss has also indicated that Czech firm EPH, a participant in PPC’s initial sale effort, intends to reenter.

Expressions of interest are once again expected from Seven Energy, another Czech firm, with Gek Terna as its partner for this sale, China’s CHN Energy with the Copelouzos group, as well as Mytilineos, according to sources.

All three formations had taken part in the initial sale effort and reached a consultation stage that shaped the disinvestment’s sales and purchase agreement. Offers were submitted by Seven Energy-Gek Terna and Mytilineos.

The participation of Elvalhalkor is uncertain. This firm could move to take part in a consortium at a latter stage.

On the one hand, a wider field of prospective buyers promises to intensify bidding, while, on the other, this will increase investor demands for greater incentives as a condition for binding bids.

The PPC boss contends Meliti and Megalopoli power station units included in the sale are profitable but investors see unfavorable prospects given the EU’s decarbonization policy.

Also, an unfavorable supply agreement between PPC and the operator of the Ahlada mine feeding the utility’s Meliti unit remains unresolved. PPC wants improved terms. The existing contract, not securing price and quantity stability, was seen as a drawback by participants in PPC’s initial sale.

Furthermore, CAT remuneration eligibility for sale package units remains uncertain. The European Commission has yet to deliver news on this front.

The sale’s new evaluation procedure, seen producing a lower price, is another headache for PPC. The utility’s boss insists PPC units “will not be sold to investors seeking swift profit within a year or two.”

 

 

 

Brussels grants investors one-month extension for PPC bids

Investors have been given a one-month extension for second-round binding bids concerning the main power utility PPC’s sale of lignite units following the European Commission’s approval of a request made by China’s CHN Energy, which has joined forces with the Copelouzos group for this sale.

Subsequently, prospective buyers now face a November 17 deadline for their binding bids. The deadline extension had been widely anticipated over the past ten days or so following hints made by energy ministry officials at the recent Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.

The additional time provides energy ministry and PPC officials with an opportunity to negotiate with Brussels for the possible inclusion in the sale of a CAT remuneration system for lignite-fired electricity generation.

CHN Energy and the Copelouzos group had requested up to two months of additional time but the deadline extension was limited to one month by a  Monitoring Trustee overlooking the overall sale procedure on behalf of the European Commission.

Both the energy ministry and PPC officials fear offers by investors could remain low, higher CO2 emission right costs being a key factor. CAT remuneration would offer some incentive for bigger bids.

Initial hopes of a total sale price of around one billion euros for PPC lignite units and mines representing 40 percent of the utility’s overall lignite capacity have now deescalated to levels of several hundred million euros. Some investors have suggested offers could be considerably lower.

GEK-Terna, which has united with the Czech Republic’s Seven Energy for the PPC sale; another Czech firm, EPH; ElvalHalkor, a member of the Viohalko group; as well as Mytilineos, are the sale’s other second-round qualifiers.

CHN Energy requests deadline extension for PPC unit sale bids

China’s CHN Energy, which has joined forces with the Copelouzos group for the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale of lignite units – offered as two respective packages representing 40 percent of the utility’s overall lignite capacity in the north and south – has requested a deadline extension of one or two months for the submission of binding offers. The current deadline expires on October 17.

CHN Energy is seeking additional time for its analysis of data collected by company officials, including through the PPC sale’s virtual data room, energypress sources informed. CHN Energy officials have forwarded numerous questions concerning the units up for sale, the sources added. Company practices, including approval procedures, applied at CHN Energy are a contributing factor to the need for additional time, sources said.

The CHN Energy request is now being examined by the European Commission, supervising the PPC sale.

Other participants do not appear to have requested more time. GEK-Terna, which has united with Seven Energy for the PPC sale, Czech firm EPH, ElvalHalkor, a member of the Viohalko group, as well as Mytilineos, have all submitted first-round expressions of interest.

The prospect of other partnerships being formed by these players does not seem probable, sources noted.

PPC officials will begin a series of management interviews today with participants for clarification of financial data collected through the video data room during the summer. Despite union resistance, some candidates managed to make on-site inspections of PPC facilities included in the sale.

 

 

PPC lignite sale regaining pace, 4 of 5 candidates interested

Four of five investment teams that submitted first-round expressions of interest for the main power utility PPC’s sale of bailout-required sale of lignite mines and power stations appear to have sustained their interested now that the disinvestment procedure is regaining speed following the summer slowdown in August.

Investors have actively sought sale-related information in the virtual data room established for the disinvestment ahead of a series of separate interviews, planned to begin next week, with PPC officials for further clarification of the assets up for sale, including technical and financial details. Interested parties are expected to submit binding second-round offers in October.

Czech firm EPH (Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding) appears to have retreated and will most likely not take part in the upcoming series of meetings. Until now, EPH representatives have yet to request any meeting with PPC officials.

On the contrary, Seven Energy, another Czech firm that emerged in the first round, has stationed a representative in Athens, seems very interested, and has joined forces with local powerhouse GEK Terna.

Investors still need to gain further information as the two companies founded to offer two separate sale packages, respectively representing PPC lignite units in Greece’s north and south, did not exist prior to this sale’s launch. As a result, prospective buyers need to be particularly careful and seek further details on corporate, legal and sale matters.

PPC’s chief executve Manolis Panagiotakis is not expected to participate in the power utility’s series of forthcoming meetings with investors.

Despite certain reservations as a result of lignite’s indefinite future in Greece’s energy mix, all other four investment teams appear interested in PPC’s two sale packages, representing 40 percent of the power utility’s overall lignite capacity.

Besides the GEK Terna-Seven Energy partnership, the Copelouzos group has been joined by China Energy (Beijing Guohua Power), while the Mytilineos group and ElvalHalkor also emerged in the first round.

All first-round PPC units sale participants to make next stage

All first-round participants of the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale of  lignite mines and power stations representing 40 percent of the utility’s overall lignite capacity meet the procedure’s criteria to qualify for the next stage, PPC officials have unofficially made known.

A total of six bidding schemes submitted non-binding expressions of interest for the sale’s first round, expected to end today with the announcement of qualifiers.

As of Monday, the sale’s second-round qualifiers will gain access to the procedure’s data room for two months – once they have signed confidentiality agreements – to evaluate technical and financial information concerning the power stations and mines up for sale.

A consortium comprising Beijing Guohua, a subsidiary of China’s Shenhua, and Damco Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Copelouzos group; GEK-Terna; ElvalHalkor, a member of the Viohalko group; Czech firm EPH (ENERGETICKÝ Α PRŮMYSLOVÝ HOLDING); Indoverse Coal Investments Limited, also Czech; as well as Mytilineos, all submitted first-round expressions of interest.

The wide turnout could lead to aggressive bidding in the next round, when investors will be expected to produce binding offers. However, not all pundits are convinced turnout alone will be enough to generate elevated bids for a lofty sale price.

PPC’s administration has stressed solid incentives are needed for the prospective investors, including CAT payment assurances for the units included in the disinvestment’s packages, one covering the country’s north and the other the south.

Second-round terms are expected to be announced to the qualifying schemes next week. PPC and the utility’s advisers have pushed the sale’s authorities for the most favorable terms possible in an effort to increase the sale’s appeal for investors.

PPC wants terms that will enable, even encourage, participants to join forces. Mobility is being reported among the first-round bidders, including the Czech bidders, believed to be maneuvering for possible partnerships.

The second-round terms are also expected to clarify whether participants will be permitted to submit a joint offer for the sale’s northern and southern packages. Sources said such a provision will be included in the second-round terms, based on a formula applied for the privatization of regional airports around Greece.

The PPC disinvestment’s Greek-Chinese bidding team of Beijing Guohua and Damco Energy, which yesterday signed a partnership agreement for this sale yesterday, made clear it is interested in both the northern and southern packages.

CAT eligibility vital for prospects of PPC units sale, chief notes

The level of investor interest, asset value and achievable sale price of a bailout-required sale of main power utility PPC lignite mines and power stations will depend on whether the units being offered will be eligible for CAT remuneration, the power utility’s CEO, Manolis Panagiotakis, has told journalists.

Strong political support by the government, perhaps from its top level, will be needed as European Commission directives issued so far exclude lignite units from CAT mechanism payments, the PPC boss noted.

Conventional power stations, such as lignite-fired units, must satisfy a CO2 emission limit of 550 grams per KWh to qualify for CAT mechanism payments.

A European Commission proposal calling for even stricter limits is gaining growing support throughout Europe.

Given the developments, the PPC lignite units placed for sale will most likely remain ineligible for CAT support. If so, this will severely limit their appeal for investors in general. They would need to be taken on by industrial enterprises active in sectors eligible for mechanisms offsetting a considerable percentage of CO2 emission right costs.

Meanwhile, taking the sale process a step further, PPC shareholders yesterday approved a split from the corporation of the two lignite unit packages being offered in the sale of lignite mines and power stations, representing 40 percent of the utility’s overall lignite capacity.

Yesterday’s approval now enables PPC to open a data room through which six candidate investors will be informed on the details of assets included in the disinvestment.

“Our work begins now – to correctly inform interested parties, make appropriate presentations and highlight the details that make the units attractive investment prospects – in order to to achieve a satisfactory sale price,” PPC’s chief executive, Manolis Panagiotakis, informed journalists. “Now is also the time for the government and the European Commission to show, with action, their support for lignite-related production,” he added.

Three major local players, GEK-Terna, Mytilineos and ElvalHalkor, a member of the Viohalko group, as well as a fourth, the Copelouzos group, joined by Beijing Guohua, a wholly owned subsidiary of China’s Shenhua, submitted first-round expressions of interest for the PPC lignite units. Two Czech firms, EPH (ENERGETICKÝ Α PRŮMYSLOVÝ HOLDING) and Indoverse Coal Investments Limited, also emerged as surprise participants.

 

 

 

Two Czech firms emerge as PPC unit sale’s surprise contenders

The emergence of two Czech firms, EPH (ENERGETICKÝ Α PRŮMYSLOVÝ HOLDING) and Indoverse Coal Investments Limited, for expressions of interest in the first round of the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale of lignite mines and power stations, is the procedure’s surprise development so far.

Expressions of interest by three major local players, GEK-Terna, Mytilineos and ElvalHalkor, a member of the Viohalko group, joined by Beijing Guohua, a wholly owned subsidiary of China’s Shenhua, had been widely anticipated.

EPH is the most recent buyer of lignite units in Europe. The Czech firm acquired facilities with a total capacity of 8,000 MW in 2016. Located in Germany’s east, these lignite units were sold by Sweden’s Vattenfall. Roughly half were built in the 1980s and the other half about two decades ago.

Vattenfall, a state-owned firm, is believed to have sold these units to EPH in order to reduce its portfolio’s exposure to CO2 polluting lignite.

The corporate size of EPH is comparable to that of PPC. Its assets are valued at 12.8 billion euros and annual total turnover reaches about 6 billion euros. However, the Czech firm’s profit figures are a lot more robust. The company’s most recent EBITDA figure was reported at 1.9 billion euros.

EPH maintains assets in central Europe – Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary and Poland – as well as in Italy and the UK.

The EPH group was established in 2009 with the PPF group, which has invested in Greece’s OPAP state lottery, among its founding shareholders. Through subsidiaries, EPH controls and operates lignite-fired power stations, mines, telethermal systems, natural gas networks and storage facilities. It also operates as a coal trader and supplier of electricity and natural gas and owns a number of renewable energy units.

The main shareholder at EPH, 42-year-old Daniel Kretinsky, sold 31 percent of EPH Infrastructure to Australia’s Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets in 2016. Kretinsky also holds stakes in Czech media and is a co-owner of the Sparta Prague soccer club.

Indoverse, the other Czech firm to emerge for the first round of PPC’s sale, is active in the Czech Republic’s coal market and operates one power station and mines. Early this year, the company’s head, energy-sector investor Pavel Tykac, who is ranked one of his country’s five wealthiest individuals, declared an intention to invest over one billion euros in European coal-fired power stations.

Tykac has been involved in a number of contentious issues and has needed to face legal charges prompted by unorthodox business practices, including aggressive takeover attempts.

He is the sole owner of Sev.en Energy Group, Indoverse’s parent company. The Sev.en energy group is far smaller than Greece’s PPC. It produces approximately 10 million tons of lignite each year and operates a 410-MW lignite-fired power station.

PPC sale draws expected local players, Shenhua, Czech firms

Three major local players, GEK-Terna, Mytilineos and ElvalHalkor, a member of the Viohalko group, as well as a fourth, the Copelouzos group, joined by Beijing Guohua, a wholly owned subsidiary of China’s Shenhua, have – as was anticipated – all submitted first-round expressions of interest for the main power utility PPC’s sale of bailout-required sale of lignite mines and power stations. Two Czech firms, EPH (ENERGETICKÝ Α PRŮMYSLOVÝ HOLDING) and Indoverse Coal Investments Limited, also emerged as surprise participants. The deadline for expressions of interest expired yesterday afternoon.

PPC needs to disinvest power stations and mines units representing 40 percent of the utility’s overall lignite capacity.

The list of first-round bidders could be revised if partnerships are established or entrants fail to meet criteria enabling qualification for binding bids in the second round. The PPC board will decide on the qualifiers.

Finalized investment schemes will need to be officially declared by the end of July. A September deadline is expected to be set for binding bids.

It is not yet known if any of the sale’s early participants intend to submit binding second-round bids. They are expected to decide after examining PPC’s financial, technical and legal information to be made available to first-round participants through a data room. Investors are not expected to decide any sooner than next month.

The sale price to be demanded by PPC will be a crucial factor for investors. Though definitely interested in acquiring lignite-fired power stations and mines as a means of  controlling their cost of electricity sold, participating suppliers are troubled by the rising production cost of solid fuel-based power generation, a development prompted by EU climate change policies.