PM discusses Greek regional gas supply prospects in talks with US president

The crucial role to be played by northeastern Greece’s prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU as a project that promises to help reduce and eliminate the reliance of the Balkans and, by extension, east Europe on Russian gas was stressed during talks between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and US president Joe Biden in Washington yesterday.

The Greek leader, who stressed that the Alexandroupoli FSRU will be installed at a port just 500 km from the Ukraine border, added the facility, discussed extensively between the two leaders, will play a pivotal role in Europe’s decision to end its reliance on Russian gas.

Mitsotakis also discussed Greece’s ambitious yet not unattainable objective of becoming an energy hub in the Balkans, as a first step, as well as a key player in eastern Europe.

Three prospective LNG terminals – Alexandroupoli FSRU I and II, as well as Dioryga Gas, close to Korinthos, west of Athens – combined with the existing LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, that will soon acquire a fourth storage unit, could elevate Greece’s regional role as a main gas supplier in the Balkans and eastern Europe.

 

 

 

RAE decides on 12-month FSU rental for Revythoussa, 70% capacity boost

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided on a 12-month rental solution for an FSU installation at the country’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, a move planned to increase the facility’s capacity by 70 percent at an overall cost estimated at 20 million euros, energypress sources have informed.

The FSU, to serve as an addition to three existing storage units at the Revythoussa LNG terminal, is planned for July, the sources added.

RAE’s finalized decision enables gas grid operator DESFA, operating the LNG terminal, to stage a second round of binding bids for reservation of capacities. The procedure is expected to take place imminently, by mid-May. Four companies participated in the non-binding first round.

The FSU to be moored will offer a capacity of between 150,000 and 174,000 bcm, increasing the terminal’s current capacity of 225,000 m3 to at least 375,000 m3.

 

 

Alexandroupoli FSRU development launch today, pivotal project

Development of the Alexandroupoli FSRU in Greece’s northeast, a project promising to boost energy security by broadening energy source diversification for Greece and the wider Balkan region, is scheduled to officially commence today.

The prime ministers of Greece and Bulgaria, as well as Serbia’s president, will attend today’s official ceremony. The leaders will highlight the need for energy source diversification in the Balkans and reduced reliance on Russian natural gas.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU promises to establish Greece as a gas hub for transportation of LNG into the EU.

Natural gas consumption in southeast Europe totals between 10 and 11 bcm annually, half this amount provided by Russia.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU, expected to be ready to operate by the end of 2023, is planned to offer a capacity of approximately 5.5 bcm, greatly diversifying gas supply to southeast Europe.

The project is budgeted at 380 million euros, of which 166.7 million euros will be provided through the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).

The Alexandroupoli FSRU will be linked with Greece’s gas grid via a 28-km pipeline, enabling gas supply to Greece, Bulgaria and the wider region, including Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Moldavia and Ukraine.

 

REPower EU plan overambitious, ‘an objective, not a specific strategy’

The European Commission’s REPower EU transition plan, aiming to greatly reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas, is overambitious and should be regarded as an objective rather than a set of specific measures, officials taking part in the recent annual Gas Infrastructure Europe conference, an authoritative sector event, have concluded.

The calculations offered by the REPower EU plan are incorrect, Torben Brabo, GIE’s president, has told the Euractive agency, adding that a closer look at the figures concerning Russian natural gas supply, LNG supply, as well as biomethane projections, renders the European plan as overambitious.

LNG availability and purchase projections in the REPower EU plan are possibly too high, the GIE president stressed.

Officials linked with LNG infrastructure told the GIE conference that the LNG market’s actual conditions will prevent the EU plan’s lofty targets from being achieved. Anything beyond 50 percent of the target set will be difficult to attain, these officials contended.

American current gas liquefaction capacity does not suffice for supply of an additional 15 bcm of LNG to Europe, as specified in the EU plan, officials taking part in the GIE conference contended.

Qatar and other LNG exporters in the Middle East have already committed amounts to non-EU buyers, while the REPower EU plan’s 35-bcm biomethane objective appears to be too optimistic, they added.

 

 

 

 

Four Revythoussa FSU offers made, 6-month lease for start

Four companies have expressed non-binding interest in a procedure seeking FSU offers, both through lease and sale arrangements, for gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

The Revythoussa plan entails adding an FSU with a capacity of between 150,000 and 174,000 m3 to the LNG terminal, which would increase the facility’s current 225,000 m3 capacity, provided by three existing onshore storage units, to at least 375,000 m3, an increase of approximately 70 percent.

Local authorities were satisfied with the level of interest expressed by participants in the first-round procedure, staged to gauge the market for FSU availability. The procedure was staged with guidance from international broker SSY Gas.

A six-month lease solution for an FSU is now considered certain as an initial plan as RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, keeps assessing market data to decide whether an FSU lease or purchase solution is best for Revythoussa over the longer term.

A follow-up tender inviting interested parties to submit binding bids will be staged as soon as RAE has reached its decision.

According to the plan’s schedule, a follow-up tender is planned for the first half of May. Officials aim to have an FSU moored at Revythoussa by the end of July.

 

Swift moves for Revythoussa capacity boost, FSU by July 30

Gas grid operator DESFA’s plan to boost the capacity of its LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, with the addition of a floating storage unit (FSU), is in full progress, the target date for its mooring being no later than July 30.

DESFA is now preparing to stage a related tender for this plan and, as a first step, is researching the international market to check on the availability of an FSU matching Revythoussa’s requirements, factors including the installation’s period, should a lease solution be chosen, and storage capacity.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is soon expected to decide on whether the FSU should be purchased or leased.

The authority is expected to hold a meeting today with DESFA officials to discuss the plan’s details.

DESFA has indicated it could lease an FSU for a period of between 12 to 18 months and, as part of this plan, would receive the vessel between May 1 and July 30.

The operator is moving fast as the European Commission has requested all EU natural gas storage facilities be filled to 80 percent of capacity by November 1. In addition, the danger of a Russian disruption of gas supply to Europe also requires swift action, as does the higher energy demand anticipated during the summer season.

 

Lignite extraction boosted as part of emergency plan

Power utility PPC has boosted its lignite mining output by an additional 5,000 to 6,000 tons a day for its Meliti and Agios Dimitrios power stations in northern Greece and by an extra 7,000 to 8,000 tons a day for its Megalopoli power station in the Peloponnese, in response to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ call, early in April, for increased lignite reserves should Russia disrupt its natural gas supply to Europe.

The objective is to increase lignite extraction by 45 to 50 percent over a two-year period for reserves amounting to more than 15 million tons, up from the present quantity of 10.5 million tons, which would enable lignite-fired production to reach 6.5 TWh annually, up from 4.5 TWh projected in the current energy plan.

The majority of PPC’s seven lignite-fired power stations will need to be temporarily withdrawn if increased lignite quantities are to be accumulated at the yards of these power stations.

Of the country’s seven lignite-fired power stations, just one, Agios Dimitrios IV, is scheduled to operate today.

The additional 2 TWh of electricity generation that could be produced annually as a result of this initiative would still not suffice if Russia were to stop supplying natural gas to Europe.

Greece’s annual electricity consumption is estimated at 55 TWh. Last year, natural gas-fueled electricity generation covered 20 TWh of the country’s overall electricity demand, with 40 percent of the natural gas used supplied by Russia.

This means Russia’s natural gas was responsible for 8 TWh of Greece’s electricity generation last year. The Greek plan for an additional 2 TWh in generation through greater lignite production would only cover 25 percent of electricity currently produced using Russian natural gas.

Additional LNG shipments, accelerated development of RES projects, and an energy-saving policy for households, businesses and industry will also be needed to cover the gap.

Egyptian grid operator team in Athens for Greek grid link talks

A team of highly ranked officials from the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC), headed by president and CEO Sabah Mashali, is in Athens for two days of talks, beginning today, on the development of the Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection.

The EETC officials are scheduled to meet today with a team of Greek power grid operator IPTO officials, headed by president and CEO Manos Manousakis, for a discussion on technical details concerning the grid interconnection.

Tomorrow, the EETC team is scheduled to meet with Greece’s energy minister Kostas Skrekas as well as development and investment minister Adonis Georgiadis.

A first step for the project was taken last October when the Greek and Egyptian energy ministers signed a related Memorandum of Understanding. As part of the agreement, the power grid operators of both countries have assembled a working group to conduct necessary preliminary work.

The group’s responsibilities, according to the MoU, include technical coordination to ensure the grid interconnection’s compatibility; facilitating the project’s licensing matters; as well as providing support for the project’s classification as an EU Project of Common Interest, which would ensure EU funding support.

The Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection is planned to exclusively transmit green energy from Egypt to Greece as a means of increasing the energy-mix share of renewables in Greece and the wider region and also bolstering energy security in Europe, prioritized following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, during a recent meeting with European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, stressed the importance of the Greek-Egyptian grid link, noting it should receive European backing.

 

Revythoussa FSU purchase advantageous over rental

The purchase of a floating storage unit (FSU) for installation at the Revythoussa islet LNG terminal just off Athens, to boost the unit’s capacity for the country’s protection against a further supply crisis, is financially advantageous compared to a one-year rental of an equivalent floating storage system, officials at gas grid operator DESFA, operating the terminal, have determined following their analysis of a related cost-benefit analysis.

The analysis, forwarded for consultation by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, last Friday, compares the costs of purchase and rent solutions over a five-year period.

Taking into account depreciation over the five-year period, the purchase of an FSU works out to be 48.4 million euros cheaper than a rental solution, DESFA officials have calculated.

An FSU rental for one year would cost a net amount of 110.6 million euros, whereas a purchase would cost 172.8 million euros, ultimately beneficial over a five-year period, according to the DESFA officials.

A capacity boost at the Revythoussa LNG terminal is seen as crucial in the effort to protect the country’s energy supply security should Russia disrupt its natural gas supply to Europe.

If Moscow does decide to cut supply to the continent, Greece, it is estimated, will need to order an additional 50 or so LNG shipments over the next 12 months.

Greece, Cyprus, Israel look to push ahead with key projects

The prospective East Med gas pipeline and a subsea electricity grid interconnection, projects that would link Israel with Cyprus and Greece and which are being heavily promoted as a result of the EU’s new energy policy, aiming to end the continent’s reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible, are expected to dominate the agenda of today’s trilateral meeting in Jerusalem between the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Energy company representatives will, for the first time, also be participating in a trilateral meeting of energy ministers involving the three countries, highlighting the determination of all three countries, and the EU, for swift progress on projects and agreements that would contribute to greater energy diversification for Europe.

Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas will be accompanied by Kostas Xifaras, chief executive of gas company DEPA Commercial; Mathios Rigas, CEO of upstream company Energean; and Manos Manousakis, CEO of Greek power grid operator IPTO.

Representatives of corresponding Cypriot and Israeli companies will also be taking part in today’s trilateral meeting.

Prospects for the development of the EuroAsia electricity grid link promising to connect the three countries have grown considerably as Israel appears to have swept aside previous reservations. Israel has wanted the completion of the Crete-Cyprus link as a prerequisite ahead of further development.

 

 

South Kavala UGS facing delay, war prompts need for cost-benefit update

The final round of privatization fund TAIPED’s tender for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north appears set for a latter date as authorities believe the project’s cost-benefit analysis needs to be updated as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

TAIPED was aiming to stage the tender’s second round late in May, but officials at the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, believe the UGS project’s cost-benefit analysis now needs to be updated.

More specifically, at current gas price levels, it would cost 500 million euros to fill the UGS with gas, once its conversion from a depleted gas field has been completed. The conversion’s cost is also estimated at 500 million euros, meaning a total sum of one billion euros would currently be required to develop and fill the facility.

The project’s existing cost-benefit analysis, based on data prior to the war, is now out for consultation. It has already received two extensions.

It remains unknown if a recent European Commission decision requiring EU member states to maintain gas reserves representing 15 percent of annual consumption will be restricted to the war’s duration or become a permanent obligation.

Also, the project’s reexamination will most probably also need to take into account related domestic developments such as a plan for a gas network capacity increase.

 

Revythoussa FSU 12-month rental or permanent solution

Greek authorities are making comparisons in preparation for a choice between an FSU one-year rental and a permanent floating storage unit at the Revythoussa LNG terminal as part of a plan to boost the country’s gas storage capacity ahead of next winter.

A decision for a capacity boost at the Revythoussa LNG terminal, with the addition of a fourth unit, has already been reached, highly ranked energy ministry officials have informed. A competitive procedure will be staged for the contract.

The option of renting an FSU for the Revythoussa LNG terminal, a facility operated by DESFA, the gas grid operator, would take approximately two months to complete, sources said.

This solution would make operations at the Revythoussa LNG terminal more flexible as it would enable unloading of two LNG orders simultaneously, instead of just one, as is the case at present.

A disruption of Russian gas supply to the EU would force all member states to try and secure additional LNG shipments.

The second alternative, entailing the installation of a permanent floating storage unit at the Revythoussa LNG terminal, would require more time to complete without offering any additional advantages, compared to the FSU rental, energy ministry officials noted.

Officials at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, are comparing market data such as domestic gas demand projections, and also considering Revythoussa’s prospects for a bigger role as a natural gas gateway for neighboring countries. Bulgaria and Romania are already using the Revythoussa terminal for LNG imports.

DESFA calls for doubled gas network capacity, PPPs

The country’s changing energy policy, especially following an EU decision aiming to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas, will require far greater gas transmission capabilities, inevitably prompting the need for a major network capacity boost, double the current capacity, with project participation from private-sector investors through public-private partnerships, DESFA, the gas grid operator, has informed RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The EU’s energy policy, steering Europe towards energy-source diversification, promises to establish Greece as a southeastern transit country handling far bigger quantities than at present.

Speaking at the recent energypress Power & Gas Fourum, Michalis Thomadakis, DESFA’s Director of Strategy and Development Division, noted: “Certain projects need to be developed so that we can fully utilize the new role the Greek gas transmission system is being called upon to adopt in the wider region. This can only be done with investments. It basically means that the system’s capacity needs to be doubled.”

A disruption of Russian natural gas supply to Europe would create a need for approximately 40 bcm to the Balkan region. Much of this quantity would pass through Greek territory.

New infrastructure promising to greatly increase Greece’s LNG importing capacity is already in the making. Projects include the Alexandroupoli FSRU in the country’s northeast, the Dioryga Gas FSRU planned for the Korinthos region west of Athens, as well as an additional storage tank at Greece’s only existing LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

Given these prospects, DESFA is currently looking to develop new pipelines and make network revisions that would facilitate greater quantities to other European markets.

 

 

Lignite re-emphasis temporary measure for security, PM says

A government decision for an increased lignite share of the country’s energy mix is purely temporary and driven by energy security concerns, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis clarified during a speech yesterday in Kozani, northern Greece.

The same goes for Athens’ thoughts about extending the lives of state-controlled power utility PPC’s two lignite-fired power stations, Meliti and Agios Dimitrios V. PPC plans to withdraw these units by the end of 2023, as part of the country’s decarbonization strategy, but this exit date may now be delayed.

The technical future of PPC’s Ptolemaida V, a new convertible power station, is unclear. During yesterday’s speech, the Greek prime minister informed that, if needed, this facility would operate as a lignite-fired facility until 2028, before switching to natural gas. This switch could be made at an earlier date if the war ends and natural gas prices fall significantly, seen as unlikely at present.

This overall change in direction is directly linked to the European Commission’s decision to significantly revise the EU’s Fit for 55 plan, originally setting a target for a 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Details of the Fit for 55 revisions, prompted by the impact on markets of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and the EU’s resulting decision to drastically reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas, are expected to be announced by the European Commission in May.

The EU’s new energy strategy is expected to lead to an increase in the use of biomethane and green hydrogen, as well as reduced gas consumption, regardless of the supplier, be it Russia, the USA, Qatar or Algeria.

Authorities admit the international LNG market cannot increase production to a level that would fully replace Russian gas supply.

Emergency steps taken for FSU at Revythoussa LNG terminal

The energy ministry appears to be pushing ahead with an emergency plan for swift installation of a floating storage unit (FSU) at the country’s only existing LNG terminal, on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, for increased LNG storage capacity ahead of next winter, sources have informed energypress.

Gas grid operator DESFA, the Revythoussa facility’s operator, has already researched the market for an appropriate vessel, which will need to be equipped with modern technology and recently built.

The FSU to be moored at Revythoussa will need to offer an LNG storage capacity of between 130,000 and 140,000 cubic meters to satisfy the Greek market’s needs, the sources noted.

Under normal conditions, procedures concerning this specific project would take over 12 months to complete and enable installation, but authorities are now moving fast as a result of the extreme impact Russia’s war on Ukraine has had on the energy market.

DESFA will present a cost-benefit analysis to the energy ministry by this Wednesday, according to sources.

 

 

 

FSRU at LNG terminal, Italy storage, lignite use decided

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas has staged an emergency meeting with the country’s crisis management team to establish measures that would need to be implemented should Russia decide to disrupt its natural gas supply to Europe.

Gas grid operator DESFA will need to deliver a cost-benefit analysis to the ministry by tomorrow on a plan entailing the addition of an FSRU at the Revythoussa islet LNG terminal, just off Athens, as a capacity-boosting move.

In addition, the operator has until Tuesday to report back to the ministry on the progress of its talks with Italy’s SNAM aiming to reserve storage capacity at the neighboring country’s underground gas storage (UGS) facilities.

DESFA must also update its estimate on additional LNG shipments that would be required in Greece if Russia disrupts its natural gas supply to Europe.

Gas company DEPA Commercial, Greece’s biggest gas importer, is closely monitoring the availability of LNG shipments in international markets in order to secure additional shipments, if this is deemed necessary.

Furthermore, power utility PPC will forward, by Tuesday, to the energy ministry, its annual lignite extraction plan for continual operation of its available lignite-fired power stations.

 

 

 

 

South Kavala UGS tender’s final round not until early summer

The final round of privatization fund TAIPED’s tender for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north will not be held until early this summer following a latest deadline extension by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on consultation regarding the facility’s business pricing framework, sources closely following the project’s developments have informed energypress.

Prior to this deadline extension, the overall procedure was delayed by several months as a result of a disagreement between RAE and gas grid operator DESFA over supplementary investments that would enable the country’s grid to cater to the needs of the UGS.

Consultation for UGS pricing framework proposals and other details, including DESFA’s ten-year development plan, was to expire on March 14, but RAE has offered participants an extension until March 30.

It is believed RAE’s text forwarded for consultation has been deemed far from satisfactory by prospective investors. If no changes are made, the tender could fail to produce a result, despite its long duration.

Such a prospect threatens to leave Greece as Europe’s only country without a single UGS for many years to come.

Elsewhere, EU member states are rushing to fill their UGS facilities ahead of next winter, following an order issued by the European Commission as part of a plan to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.

The EU has a total of 170 UGS facilities, offering a total capacity of 4.2 trillion cubic metres. Germany tops the list with 60 facilities that represent 42 percent of the continent’s UGS capacity. France follows with 16 UGS facilities, Italy has 13 functional facilities and 7 under construction, while Romania has 8 UGS facilities and Bulgaria one.

 

 

Revythoussa LNG terminal to acquire fourth storage facility

Gas grid operator DESFA is preparing to upgrade its Revythoussa LNG terminal on the islet close to Athens by adding a fourth LNG storage unit at the facility as a means of further reinforcing the country’s energy system for greater energy-crisis protection.

According to sources, the operator has finalized its decision on the plan, to be developed as a floating storage unit (FSU), or permanently moored LNG tanker.

The FSU’s storage capacity is planned to exceed 100,000 cubic meters, almost half the Revythoussa facility’s current 225,000 cubic-meter capacity offered by three existing LNG storage tanks installed on the islet.

Besides bolstering the Greek energy system, the Revythoussa LNG terminal upgrade also promises to create supply opportunities for Balkan markets.

In the event of a disruption of Russian gas to the Balkans, the Revythoussa LNG terminal, as it stands, could cover basic energy needs of the Bulgarian market. The Revythoussa LNG terminal is already supplying Bulgaria.

The terminal was last upgraded in 2018 with the construction of a third LNG tank, a 148 million-euro investment that has enabled transmission of gasified LNG quantities amounting to five billion cubic meters annually.

 

Brussels draft backs urgent gas storage refill for next winter

EU member state leaders are expected to back a European Commission draft calling for an immediate refill of gas storage facilities throughout the EU, in preparation for next winter, when they meet at a summit next week, scheduled for March 24 and 25.

“Refilling of gas storage across the Union should start now. Member States and the Commission will urgently coordinate measures necessary to ensure adequate levels of gas storage before the next winter”, notes a draft prepared for the imminent summit, Reuters has reported.

The European Commission will propose rules by next month requiring EU countries to collectively ensure gas stores are at least 90 percent full by October 1 each year. The EU’s current gas storage facilities are currently 26 percent full.

The European Commission plans to present, in May, a detailed roadmap to EU member states for a drastic reduction of Russian natural gas, oil and coal imports by 2027.

A preliminary plan announced last week includes measures such as an increase of LNG imports, as well as tripled wind and solar energy capacity, installed, in the EU by 2030.

 

 

‘Repower EU’ plan aims for RES growth in place of Russian gas

Repower EU, the European Commission’s roadmap for ending the EU’s reliance on Russian natural gas, features a key role for renewable energy, now not only expected to reduce fossil fuel-based electricity generation but to also significantly contribute to green hydrogen production, which is planned to replace natural gas in a wide range of uses.

The European Commission intends, through Repower EU, to accelerate the EU’s existing Fit for 55 plan, aiming for a 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Green electricity generation units incorporated into this framework are expected to offer annual natural gas consumption savings of 170 bcm.

Brussels plans to boost the EU’s installed wind and solar facilities by 80 GW to support green hydrogen production.

“Twenty million tons of hydrogen can replace 50 bcm of Russian natural gas,” noted Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal, during the presentation of the Repower EU roadmap.

Licensing procedures will need to be simplified for the development of new RES projects, the Repower EU plan stresses.

EC announcing plan to end EU dependence on Russian gas, oil

The European Commission will today present a new energy plan for the EU-27 that will aim to end Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas imports, amounting to roughly 155 billion cubic meters per year, as well as Russian oil.

Tools to be used for an end of this energy dependence will include LNG imports from the US and Qatar, further LNG terminal investments throughout Europe, accelerated development of RES projects, and emphasis on biogas and hydrogen.

A preliminary announcement of the EU’s new energy doctrine was made yesterday by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen following a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

She also spoke of the need to protect consumers, especially lower-income groups, as well as enterprises, against skyrocketing energy prices as the continent braces for even higher electricity prices next month.

If natural gas prices remain at levels of over 300 euros per MW/h, wholesale electricity prices in Greece could soon exceed 700 euros per MWh. The wholesale electricity price in Greece today is at 462.90 euros per MWh, up 52 percent in a day.

The energy market turbulence is expected to persist until at least early next year.

 

Hydrocarbon prospects reassessed following invasion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copelouzos’ Greek-Egyptian grid link backed by leaders

The Elica Interconnection, a Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection planned by the Copelouzos Group, has received the backing of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, entrepreneur Dimitris Copelouzos, founder of the group, has informed journalists.

A preceding teleconference between the leaders of the two countries, with participation from the president of the European Investment Bank Werner Hoyer, is expected to result in EU funding for the project.

According to Copelouzos, the project is budgeted at more than 3.5 billion euros, of which 1.5 billion euros will be provided by a group of Greek banks. The project is also a candidate for the PCI list, enabling EU funding support.

The Copelouzos group had set its sights on this project from as far back as 2008. Its double subsea cable, to stretch 954 kilometers from El Sallum to coastal Nea Makri, northeast of Athens, promises to transmit low-cost green energy with a 3-GW capacity, of which one third will be provided to local industries and the other two thirds exported to fellow EU members.

More specifically, on the exports, 1 GW will be transported through the Greek-Italian and Greek-Bulgarian networks, while the other 1 GW will be used for hydrogen production, most of which will be exported to other parts of Europe.

Licensing and financing procedures for the project are being hastened as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine as the Elica Interconnection promises to offer Greece and the rest of the EU yet another alternative energy source as part of the continent’s effort to restrict its dependence on Russia.

The Elica Interconnection is planned to be completed by late 2025 or early 2026.

Gastrade decides on additional Alexandroupoli FSRU by 2025

Gastrade, the consortium established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal planned for Greece’s northeast, has reached a decision to also install an additional FSRU unit at the location, expected to be completed in 2025, as a follow-up to the first terminal, set for completion in 2023.

The consortium’s decision for an additional FSRU in Alexandroupoli had been in the making from as far back as last summer, when the energy crisis was at its early stages, but was accelerated by the long-term turmoil now seen in relations between the west and Russia following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further highlighted the need for Europe to reduce its dependence on Russian gas as soon as possible. A completely new reality now appears to be in the making.

Southeastern Europe’s gas needs to result from Europe’s reduced energy dependence on Russia, through strategic diversification, has increased the prospect of Greece’s northeast becoming an energy hub that would facilitate gas exports in all directions, including to Ukraine.

The Gastrade consortium is comprised of five partners, founding member Elmina Copelouzos of the Copelouzos group, Gaslog Cyprus Investments Ltd, DEPA Commercial, Bulgartransgaz, and DESFA, Greece’s gas grid operator, each holding 20 percent stakes.

All five partners have agreed to offer 2 percent each so that North Macedonia can enter the consortium with a 10 percent stake.

Escalating war increases threat of gas shortages, prices surging

The escalating war in Ukraine following last week’s invasion by Russian forces has increased fears of natural gas shortages in the European market, which has led to a new price surge, adding to the price ascent prompted by the preceding energy crisis.

Markets are now jittery over concerns that the ongoing bombardments in Ukraine could damage gas pipelines running across the country. The prospect of a Russian retaliation to stricter sanctions threatened by the west is another concern pressuring markets.

Greece is in a somewhat sheltered position as the country imports Russian gas quantities via the Turkstream pipeline, crossing the Black Sea, but, given the overall developments, Athens cannot remain complacent.

The country’s crisis management committee will be meeting again today to discuss measures should the adverse conditions created by Russia’s war in Ukraine deteriorate further.

Greek authorities are expected to try and maintain reserves at the country’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, as close as possible to full capacity, and use pipeline gas to the fullest extent.

The country’s gas needs for March have been fully covered by four LNG shipment orders – two by Elpedison, and one each by Mytilineos and DEPA – expected at the Revythoussa terminal. Additional orders could be placed if needed. LNG orders have yet to be placed for April.

Natural gas prices surged yesterday, ending the day at 121 euros per MWh. At such a level, retail electricity prices could reach close to 300 euros per MWh. Today’s retail electricity price is 254.94 euros per MWh.

Europe now appears determined to reduce its dependency on Russian gas, covering between 40 and 45 percent of the continent’s needs. The issue has become a top priority on the EU agenda, but the road towards achieving this objective remains unclear.

Greece, Bulgaria in talks for nuclear power supply deal

Greece and Bulgaria are engaged in preliminary talks exploring the possibility of a long-term agreement that would secure fixed amounts of electricity imports to Greece from a prospective nuclear power station in the neighboring country, the Bulgarian government’s deputy prime minister and finance minister Asen Vasilev has told local TV station Nova.

Greek government sources confirmed the news in comments to energypress, noting that talks aiming for such as an agreement have begun.

This would help bolster Greece’s energy security, given the wider insecurity created by Russian’s invasion of Ukraine. Greece would be supplied the majority of electricity produced by the prospective Bulgarian nuclear plant, it is understood.

Bulgaria’s nuclear power company would establish long-term supply agreements with one or more Greek electricity suppliers, sources said.

Early last week, a delegation of Bulgarian ministers visited Athens for a series of meetings, including with Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, energy-sector collaboration between the two countries being high on the agenda.

EC stresses need for increased LNG imports, diversification

The European Commission, according to an official document that was recently leaked, has called for wider energy source diversification in Europe, greater LNG imports, as well as better utilization of infrastructure by EU member states, which would reduce the amount of Russian gas needed in the EU.

The number of LNG facilities and interconnections has increased since a previous crisis in 2009, enabling all European countries to have either direct or indirect access to LNG terminals, the document notes.

Europe’s improved grid interconnectivity has proven crucial over the past few months in the continent’s ability to tackle the latest energy crisis, the document highlights.

The European Commission has proposed an increase in LNG imports, noting terminals and interconnections are not operating at full capacity.

The European Commission is currently holding talks with gas-producing countries and gas transit countries (USA, Qatar, Japan, Egypt, Azerbaijan and Turkey) to facilitate gas trade by making the international gas market more flexible.

The Brussels document also proposes the conversion of European natural gas projects into hydrogen projects as well as the establishment of green hydrogen agreements with countries that are ready to produce hydrogen on a large scale for supply to Europe, including Australia, Chile, Morocco, Namibia, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Ukraine.

 

Egypt appears keen to accelerate plan for natural gas pipeline to Greece

Egypt’s minister of petroleum and mineral sources Tarek El-Molla (photo, right) has underlined the potential of energy-sector collaboration between Cairo and Athens and the significance of an MoU signed by Egypt and Greece for joint development of energy infrastructure.

The Egyptian minister was speaking at the annual Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypts, before 2,000 attendants from 65 countries, among them top-ranked officials from multinational energy giants.

Agreements already signed between Egypt and Greece pave the way for the development of a subsea natural gas pipeline linking the two countries, El-Molla noted.

According to diplomatic sources, this special mention by the Egyptian minister highlights his country’s interest to push ahead with the natural gas pipeline project, which, on the one hand, would facilitate Egyptian natural gas exports to the EU and, on the other, help the continent further diversify its energy sources.

A further increase in activity between Athens and Cairo for an acceleration of procedures leading to the gas pipeline project’s development has not been ruled out by the diplomatic sources.

In addition, the potential of a subsea electricity grid interconnection between the two countries also seems to be gaining momentum, the diplomatic sources noted. Greek power grid operator IPTO and Egyptian counterpart EETC are collaborating on this latter project.

The current Russia-Ukraine problem once again highlights Europe’s need for further energy source diversification. Russia, through gas giant Gazprom, covers approximately one third of European natural gas consumption in the household and business sectors.

 

Motor Oil aims to start ‘Dioryga Gas’ development at end of ‘22

Petroleum group Motor Oil aims to begin development of its “Dioryga Gas” FSRU project, 1.5 km southwest of the company’s refinery in Korinthos, west of Athens, by the end of the year. The project’s completion would offer a second southern LNG entry point for Greece.

The ongoing energy crisis throughout Europe highlights the importance of such infrastructure, promising supply diversification and energy security.

Motor Oil officials are now working on the next steps leading to the project’s development following a recent successfully completed non-binding market test, which attracted capacity slot offers well over the group’s target of two billion cubic meters.

A binding second-round market test is currently being prepared by Motor Oil officials, according to sources. The procedure is expected to commence towards the end of the second quarter, once it has been approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

According to the company plan, an investment decision will follow, either late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter, paving the way for the beginning of construction towards the end of the year and an estimated launch in the final quarter of 2023.

The “Dioryga Gas” FSRU project has been included in gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030.

Its total capacity is planned to reach 210,000 m3, while regasification is planned at 132,000 MWhs per day and 2.5 bcm annually.

Greece well ranked on WEC list for environmental sustainability

Greece was ranked 39th among 100 countries on a World Energy Council list grading environmental sustainability, but concerns were raised on energy supply security as well as energy costs for consumers, from household to industrial.

Since 2010, the World Energy Council has annually graded countries based on three criteria reflecting the Energy Trilemma: security, grading the ability of countries to respond to present and future energy needs, equity, and environmental sustainability.

Greece achieved its highest position on the environmental sustainability list as a result of the country’s increase in electricity generation involving low carbon emissions. Lignite-based generation fell by 15 percent in a year while RES production was up significantly.

The importance of all three criteria must not be overlooked, stressed Dr. Haris Doukas, an Associate Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), and head of the WEC office in Greece.

The effort to lower carbon emissions is associated with just one of the three criteria and it seems that most WEC countries have overlooked the two other criteria in recent years, Dr. Doukas noted.

The current energy price crisis, as a result of natural gas supply, has once again brought to our attention the importance of energy systems being able to respond to current and future energy needs, cope with abnormal conditions and provide affordable energy, Dr Doukas added.