DEPA split all but over, next administration to pick new plan

Legislation engineered by the energy ministry to split gas utility DEPA into two new entities, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure, as a prelude to a privatization procedure for both, appears to be all but over following the ruling Syriza party’s poor showing in last weekend’s European elections, which prompted Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to announce snap elections.

The country’s next administration will need to pick a new model for this privatization.

Greece’s snap elections may take place on July 7 instead of June 30, the date originally planned, to avoid the process from coinciding with nationwide university entrance exams, scheduled between June 6 and July 2.

The energy ministry has made clear it will not take any further steps on any matters in its portfolio, including DEPA, during the run-up to Greece’s imminent elections.

Officials at the ministry have cited “political correctness” for not committing any subsequent government to pre-election decisions.

The main opposition New Democracy party, which outperformed Syriza by over 9 percentage points in Sunday’s European election and now appears set for an electoral victory at the upcoming national elections, has consistently disagreed on the necessity of the government’s split plan for DEPA ever since March, when the plan was tabled in parliament. ND officials have described the plan as complicated, unnecessary and ultimately damaging for the DEPA privatization.

The country’s series of bailout agreements have not included any terms requiring a split of DEPA’s trading and infrastructure divisions, an arrangement uncommon in many European countries.

Crete link project needed fast, Euro MP candidates agree

Crete’s electricity grid interconnection with Athens, a project needed to prevent a looming energy shortage threat on the island, must be swiftly developed, Euro MP candidates representing the Syriza, New Democracy, KINAL and Potami parties agreed at an event staged yesterday by Hellenic Production, an industry roundtable for growth organized by both smaller and larger manufacturing companies and the country’s main regional manufacturing associations.

The party officials also questioned, and even condemned, the European Commission’s insistence in supporting EuroAsia Interconnector – a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project – for control of the Crete-Athens segment. This persistence has delayed the Cretan project and prompted economic and energy security issues for the island, the Euro MP candidates stressed.

Greek power grid operator IPTO, which chose to withdraw the Crete-Athens segment from the wider project, has been embroiled in a dispute with EuroAsia Interconnector for control of the domestic section.

New Democracy party candidate Maria Spyraki and KINAL’s Eva Kaili both contended that the Crete-Athens interconnection project’s technical specifications, as set by IPTO, will end up sidelining Greek players.

This is burdensome for the Greek econony, Spyraki noted, reminding of the government’s decision for development of the Cretan interconnection as a national project with NSRF funding rather than as a PCI-status project.

All four party representatives agreed energy costs for Greek enterprises need to be reduced. Spyraki, the New Democracy party candidate, referred to a PWC study whose findings show energy costs for Greek industry are 60 percent higher compared to those of European rivals.