Africa Upstream, LNG & Gas Summit taking place tomorrow

Following the success of the online Oil & Gas Summit, hundreds of EPs and service providers are gathering to listen to Africa’s biggest E&P opportunities, expand their partnerships and prospects at the Africa Upstream, Gas & LNG Summit, taking place tomorrow.

Speakers include: Ritu Sahajwalla, Managing Director, Greenville LNG; Ian Simm, Principal Advisor, IGM Energy; Keith Hill, President & CEO, Africa Oil corp; Harriet Okwi, Consultant & Founder, Okwi & Partners; Immanuel Mulunga, Managing Director, NAMCOR; Martin Bawden, Business Development Manager, Zebra Data Sciences; Gbemi Otudeko, Principal, Actis; Matt Tyrrell, Chief Geologist, TROIS Geoconsulting; Philippe Herve, VP Energy, SparkCognition; Adeleye Falade, General Manager Production, Nigeria LNG; Brian Marcus, Head, Capital Management, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc; Tabrez Khan, Director, EMEIA Oil & Gas Transactions, Ernst & Young; Mike Lakin, Founder and Owner, Envoi, Allan Mugisha, Project Manager, Springfield E&P; Gil Holzman, President & CEO, Eco Atlantic Oil & Gas; Chryssa Tsouraki, Co-CEO, IN-VR; Gawie Kanjemba, Lawyer and Energy Specialist; Scott Macmillan, Managing Director, Invictus Energy; Gregory Germani, Managing Director, West African Gas Pipeline Company; Kadijah Amoah, Country Director, Aker Energy; Eyas Alhomouz, CEO, Petromal; Duncan Rushworth, VP Business Developmemt, Svenska Petroleum; Rogers Beall, Executive Chairman, Africa Fortesa Corporation; Oumarou Maidagi . D, Head of Exploration & Production, Ministry of Hydrocarbons; Peter Dekker, Chief Geophysicist, PetroSA; Tom Perkins, Director, Stellar Energy Advisors Limited; Yann Yangari, Head of New Business, Strategy and Intelligence, Gabon Oil; Monica Chamussa, Exploration Manager, ENH; David Boggs, Managing Director, Energy Maritime Associates Pte Ltd; Jorg Kohnert, Managing Director, Jagal; Amina Benkhadra, General Director, National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines, ONHYM; Jeremy Asher, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Tower Resources plc; and Khaled AbuBakr, Executive Chairman and Co-founder, TAQA Arabia.

 

 

Three bidders express first-round interest in South Kavala UGS tender

Τhree interested parties have submitted expressions of interest to a tender offering use, development and operation of an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece, The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF S.A.) has announced in a statement.

Expressions of Interest were submitted by the following parties, in alphabetical order:

  • CHINA MACHINERY ENGINEERING CO. LTD. (CMEC) – MAISON GROUP
  • DESFA – GEK TERNA
  • ENERGEAN OIL & GAS

HRADF’s advisors will evaluate the aforementioned expressions of interest and submit to the fund’s Board of Directors their recommendation regarding the candidates that qualify for the next phase of the tender (binding offers phase).

The almost depleted natural gas field “South Kavala” is located in the southwestern part of the Prinos-Kavala basin, in 52 meters of water depth in the North Aegean Sea, about 6 km off the west coast of Thassos.

The duration of the concession agreement will be up to 50 years following the licensing of the UGS in South Kavala. The conversion of the natural gas field “South Kavala” into a UGS will be carried out by the concessionaire within a binding period to be determined in the concession agreement.

The UGS South Kavala is intended to serve as energy infrastructure that will enhance the security of supply in the Greek market as well as in Southeastern Europe, ensuring gas supply to end users and facilitating security-of-supply obligations of power producers and natural gas suppliers.

Oil firms troubled by heating subsidy revision for gas, firewood inclusion

Petroleum product traders are troubled by government thoughts to broaden the eligibility of heating subsidy support so that, besides heating fuel, three new categories, natural gas, firewood and pellets, are also added to the list.

Contrary to natural gas, heating fuel is overtaxed, while the encouragement, through subsidies, of firewood as a heating source does not make environmental sense given the high levels of resulting smog, petroleum industry sources have pointed out.

High levels of smog have been recorded in Greek cities during winters over the past decade or so as struggling households have sought lower-cost heating amid the recession.

Heating subsidies are already limited and barely cover the needs of underprivileged households, petroleum industry officials have noted, fearing their share of the total could diminish if other heating sources also become eligible.

Heating fuel supply for the approaching winter season began yesterday at a level of 77 cents per liter, 2 cents lower than the price level at the close of last season’s trading, in May. Heating fuel prices are forecast to remain low, sources said.

Despite the lower price level, demand was subdued on opening day, yesterday. Many consumers took advantage of last season’s price drop and are already stocked up. In addition, temperatures around Greece remain mild.

Storengy’s Kavala UGS tender exit prompts formation changes

A decision by France’s Storengy (Engie) to not participate in a forthcoming tender offering an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) license for the almost depleted South Kavala offshore natural gas field in the country’s north has prompted a domino effect of formation changes by groups of investors planning to bid.

GEK TERNA appears to have formed an association with gas grid operator DESFA for the tender after having previously agreed to join forces with Energean Oil & Gas and Storengy.

Energean Oil & Gas, holding a license for the virtually depleted South Kavala field, has not remained an onlooker. The company has also found a partner, believed to be domestic, from the construction sector, according to sources.

To date, Energean Oil & Gas has held talks with three major groups, Mytilineos, AVAX and Aktor, the same sources added.

A Chinese investor is also believed to be interested in the South Kavala UGS tender, staged by privatization fund TAIPED, but will not link up with any partners.

The tender is offering rights for the use, development and exploitation of the virtually depleted offshore natural gas field south of Kavala as a UGS facility for a period of up to 50 years.

Participants must submit first-round, non-binding offers by October 19 following three deadline extensions.

NECP and efforts on the right track, Brussels report notes

The country’s efforts to reach objectives set in the National Energy and Climate Plan, shaped by long-term European climate and energy goals, as well as the domestic plan itself, have been favorably reviewed by the European Commission in a related report released yesterday as an appraisal of the finalized NECP submitted to Brussels by the Greek government.

The European Commission, which has reviewed the NECPs of EU member states and how they stand in connection with Europe’s energy and climate objectives, described the Greek plan and its progress as “satisfactory” and “sufficient”.

The Brussels review, however, pointed out that the country’s reforms concerning competition in the retail and wholesale electricity and gas markets, among other domains, require strengthening.

The report also called for an enhancement of Greece’s just transition plan concerning the post-lignite era. Greater detail in the assessment of the social and employment repercussions, as well as retraining requirements, in lignite-dependent areas where the lignite-fired power stations are planned to be withdrawn over the next three years is needed, it noted.

As for measures concerning the Greek economy’s pandemic-related recovery, at least 37 percent of recovery funds to be made available should be invested in climate-linked initiatives so that mid-term emission reduction targets are met, the report noted.

South Kavala UGS bidders talk formations as deadline nears

Prospective bidders of an upcoming tender to offer an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) license for the almost depleted South Kavala offshore natural gas field in the country’s north are deliberating over possible partnerships as the October 19 deadline for official expressions of interest approaches.

Greek gas grid operator DESFA, Energean Oil & Gas and GEK TERNA will participate in the tender, according to enegypress sources, while some market officials believe a Chinese company, not yet revealed, is also interested.

All three Greek companies have remained tight-lipped on possible partnership formations for the tender. GEK TERNA and Energean Oil & Gas are believed to be discussing the prospect of teaming up, while DESFA and the Chinese company will most likely enter the tender alone, energypress sources informed.

The tender, staged by privatization fund TAIPED, will offer rights for the use, development and exploitation of the virtually depleted offshore natural gas field south of Kavala as a UGS facility for a period of up to 50 years.

Investments needed for the project’s development are estimated between 300 and 400 million euros.

The field is located approximately 6 kilometers from the west coast of the island Thasos, in the North Aegean Sea, at a depth of 52 meters.

Its development into a UGS facility promises to contribute to Greece’s energy security and that of southeast Europe.

DEPA Comm VDR open; 5-year stay for Infrastructure buyer

The video data room for the privatization procedure of DEPA Commercial, one of two new gas utility DEPA entities placed for sale, is now open to prospective bidders, but initial information made available is limited to non-financial details.

Financial details on DEPA Commercial will be made available as a second step to all consultants representing the potential buyers, while a third and final stage will follow to conditionally offer bidders confidential information in person at the DEPA headquarters.

As previously reported, the second-round, binding-bids deadline for the DEPA Commercial sale, offering investors a 65 percent stake, has been extended to March, 2021.

The field of second-round qualifiers is comprised of two partnerships, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) with Edison and power utility PPC with Motor Oil Hellas, plus Mytilineos, TERNA, the Copelouzos group, Shell, and the Swiss-based MET Group.

As for DEPA Infrastructure, the other new DEPA entity up for sale, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis is preparing a legislative revision that will require the winning bidder to retain its company shares for a period of at least five years.

This condition will also apply for the DEPA Infrastructure subsidiaries EDA Attiki, EDA Thess and DEDA, the gas distributors covering the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki-Thessaly and rest of Greece, respectively. DEPA fully owns DEDA and EDA Attiki and holds a 51 percent stake in EDA Thess.

The DEPA Infrastructure binding-bids deadline has also been extended to the end of February, 2021. Italgas, EPH, First State Investments, KKR, Macquarie and Sino-CEEF have qualified for the final round.

 

DEPA Commercial, DEPA Infrastructure binding-bid deadlines extended

The second-round, binding-bid deadlines for the privatizations of gas utility DEPA’s two new entities, DEPA Commercial and DEPA Infrastructure, have once again been reset for latter dates despite the government’s recent approval of privatization fund TAIPED’s revised Asset Development Plan.

According to sources, the new binding-bids deadline for DEPA Commercial, a privatization expected to draw major interest as a result of the company’s strong market standing and potential, has been reset for March, instead of December.

According to some sources, TAIPED wants to include improved DEPA Commercial results anticipated for the third quarter into the sale’s video data room, whose data will be assessed by prospective bidders once they sign confidentiality agreements.

TAIPED will, as a result, aim to achieve a higher selling price for DEPA Commercial, which has recaptured market share losses.

Other sources insist the rescheduled date is linked to an uncertainty felt by investors over DEPA’s ongoing legal dispute with ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals).

A DEPA appeal of a court verdict that disapproved the utility’s pricing policy for ELFE is scheduled to take place in January, while a ruling will be delivered even later. Investors want clarity on this front before they can submit binding bids.

DEPA Infrastructure’s deadline for binding bids has now been rescheduled for February instead of January.

Pundits have attributed this development to a failure by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to finalize a gas distribution network pricing policy by September, as had been planned. The authority has yet to offer a new date for the new network pricing policy, sources said.

Prospective bidders consider this pricing detail crucial as it determines the earnings level of DEPA Infrastructure.

 

Gas distributors want surcharge rebate decision cancelled

Gas distributors DEDA, EDA Thess and EDA Attiki will seek the nullification of a decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, requiring them to gradually reimburse industrial enterprises for increased network surcharges  between August 14, 2015 and December 1, 2016.

The RAE ruling was delivered following a complaint by EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers.

The amount that needs to be returned by the three distributors to energy-intensive industries is estimated to be between 2.5 and three million euros.

As a first step, DEDA, EDA Thess and EDA Attiki will apply for the RAE decision to be nullified and, if unsuccessful, will then resort to legal action, including at the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court.

A bill ratified in 2015 enabled the gas distributors to impose a temporary network surcharge of 4 euros per MWh, prompting a reaction from energy-intensive industries.

EVIKEN argued that the increase in distribution charges did not reflect the costs of each distributor, was a disproportionate burden for certain categories of network users, while adding that distribution charges should be set by RAE, not through legislation.

According to the RAE decision, the gas distributors will need to introduce measures reimbursing industrial consumers for higher network surcharge payments over the aforementioned 16-month period. Payment of the reimbursements, to be determined by a specific formula, will be possible through installments over a period of as long as five years, according to the RAE decision.

Higher LNG prices prompting pipeline gas resurgence

Increased LNG prices, well above levels registered in 2019 and the first half of 2020, promise to bring about market changes, including a decrease in the high level of imports witnessed over the past few months.

LNG prices are currently double those registered at the beginning of this year, reaching 4 dollars per 1000btu from 2 dollars per btu.

The period of lower LNG prices in the market appears to have ended, officials have noted.

This development promises to bring about a pipeline gas resurgence following LNG’s dominance in the Greek market over the past year and a half, driven by record-low price levels.

LNG prices fell to extremely low levels as a result of the market availability of significant shale gas amounts from the US as well as new sources, primarily Australian.

LNG prices now appear to be steadying at higher levels.

The prospect of a pipeline gas rebound is also being helped by a stabilization of oil prices at low levels, containing oil-indexed pipeline gas prices and reinstating the competitiveness of pipeline gas.

The market fluidity caused by the pipeline gas and LNG price shifts has increased the work challenge for gas traders, affecting their ability to make forecasts.

 

 

 

Energy transition to boost medium-term gas demand; 6 bcm total expected in ’20

The energy transition is boosting the prospects of an increase in Greek natural gas consumption, which could rise by 2.5 to 3 bcm in the medium term, market experts project.

Pundits expect total gas consumption in 2020 to reach 6 bcm, up considerably from levels registered in 2019, and stabilize at this level in 2021.

Electricity generation is a key factor in the anticipated rise of gas consumption as the withdrawal of lignite-fired power stations should increase the energy-mix share of natural gas to levels of between 30 and 40 percent.

The rise in gas consumption in the short term will greatly depend on the number of new gas-fired power stations to be introduced. For example, a gas-consumption increase of as much as 1.5 bcm is expected if three gas-fired power units with respective capacities of 800 MW are introduced to the system.

Exports are expected to add a further 1 bcm to the market’s size, while small-scale expansion covering the shipping sector and needs of detached areas should add another 500 million cubic meters to consumption.

 

Committee checking relevance of DEPA gas auction measure

The Competition Committee is conducting research to determine whether gas auctions that have required gas utility DEPA to make available minimum gas amounts to suppliers for fairer competition are still necessary amid the liberalized market.

The committee imposed these gas auctions on DEPA in 2014 when the utility was dominating Greece’s natural gas market under completely different market conditions.

Much has changed since the sector’s liberalization. A total of 7 gas importers and 25 retail suppliers are now active in the Greek market.

The study was prompted following a request by DEPA. As part of the process, the competition committee is consulting gas companies as well as RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, before deciding if the gas auctions should be abolished.

According to sources, RAE pointed out that, given DEPA’s greatly reduced market share – less than 40 percent in 2019 and the first half of 2020 – the measure’s maintenance, without any benefits for the utility in exchange, offers rival gas companies an advantage.

RAE supports that any such measures must be universally imposed on all gas suppliers based on certain criteria, such as market share levels.

In addition, price levels at the DEPA gas auctions are deemed too high by players, limiting buying interest.

At the time of the gas auction measure’s introduction, in 2014, DEPA was obligated to offer other players 10 percent of the annual gas amount it was importing. This figure was gradually increased, reaching 17 percent in 2018.

Greek law initially required any gas wholesaler with a market share of more than 60 percent to make gas quantities available to other traders through auctions. This level was reduced to 40 percent in 2018.

Storengy exits UGS tender, partners seek new operator

France’s Storengy appears to have stepped back from an upcoming tender for the privatization of an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at an almost depleted South Kavala offshore natural gas field in the country’s north, energypress understands.

Storengy, a subsidiary of the Engie group, had formed a three-member consortium with Energean Oil & Gas, holder of the South Kavala field’s license, and construction firm GEK-Terna for this tender.

Storengy’s apparent decision to withdraw from the South Kavala tender may be linked to a decision reached two years earlier by Engie for a revision of its international interests and investment plans.

Energean Oil & Gas and GEK-Terna, Storengy’s two partners for the South Kavala tender, remain interested in expressing first-round interest by a September 30 deadline, but to do so, they must find a new partner, a certified gas grid operator, as required by the tender’s regulations.

The two players have subsequently moved closer to gas grid operator DESFA, already eyeing this tender. According to sources, talks between the two sides have commenced. DESFA will need to hold a stake of at least 20 percent in any partnership formed.

Both sides are also believed to be considering other partnership options. Storengy’s withdrawal could also bring in unanticipated European operators.

Investments of approximately 300 to 400 million euros will be needed to develop the South Kavala UGS.

DESFA, seeking leading role, awaits RAE approval of investment plan

Gas grid operator DESFA’s majority stakeholder Senfluga – a consortium comprising three European operators, Snam, Fluxys and Enagas, as well as Greek energy company Damco – holding a 66 percent stake in the former state-controlled utility – is striving for extroversion and a leading market role in Greece’s post-lignite era.

As was recently indicated by DESFA’s chief executive Nicola Battilana, the company is striving to push ahead with major investment plans to bolster the role of natural gas as a transitional fuel towards climate-neutral energy systems, and also upgrade Greece’s geostrategic role in the southeast Mediterranean.

DESFA’s investment interest very much depends on the position to be adopted by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on projects of national significance. The gas grid operator anticipates the authority will approve, within the next few days, its ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030, worth 500 million euros.

The gas grid operator is looking for swift approval of the plan. Fast action would help the country’s climate-change objectives set by the Greek government.

Besides the Greek market, DESFA is also seeking to generate revenue through various projects abroad. DESFA is expected to be declared the winning bidder in a tender for the maintenance and operation of a Liquefied Natural Gas Import LNGI facility developed in Kuwait by state-run KIPIC.

DESFA is also working on a series of other interests, including becoming the fifth member of a team behind the Alexandroupoli FSRU project, a floating LNG terminal envisaged for Greece’s northeast. This FSRU, geostrategically significant for Greece, promises alternate LNG supply to the Balkans.

Project licensing preparations are also being made by DESFA for a pipeline interconnection to link Greece and North Macedonia. The operator anticipates a market test co-staged by DESFA and MER, the neighboring country’s gas grid operator, will produce favorable results.

Other project plans at DESFA include gas grid expansion in Greece’s west Macedonia region, to facilitate the entry of natural gas where lignite has dominated as an energy source.

Energean Israel signs deals for sale of extra 1.4 bcm/yr from Karish project

Energean Israel (Energean, 70%) has signed two new Gas Sales and Purchase Agreements, which, combined, represent gas quantities of up to 1.4 bcm/yr and increase total firm contracted gas sales from its flagship Karish project to approximately 7.0 bcm/yr on plateau, Energean plc has announced in a statement.

The new agreements represent contracted revenues of more than $2.5 billion over the life of the contracts, but require no further capital investment beyond Karish North, upon which Energean Israel expects to take Final Investment Decision later this year. The GSPAs have been signed at levels that are aligned with the other large, long-term contracts within Energean’s portfolio and are only subject to buyers’ lenders’ consent

The majority of the quantities are represented by a GSPA to supply gas to the Ramat Hovav Power Plant Limited Partnership (“RH Partnership”), a partnership between the Edeltech Group and Shikun & Binui. RH Partnership was the winning bidder in the Israel Electric Corporation (“IEC”) Ramat Hovav tender process, the second IEC power plant in a series of five to be privatised. The GSPA is for a term of up to 20 years and contains provisions regarding floor pricing for the main plateau period and exclusivity. The annual contract quantity (“ACQ”) reduces after the first seven years following first gas from Karish.

The remainder of the quantities are represented by a second new GSPA that has been signed with an affiliate of the RH Partnership for the supply of gas for other existing power stations. Gas supply will commence following first gas from Karish, achieving the plateau rate from January 2024. The contract term is for up to 15 years and the GSPA contains provisions regarding floor pricing for the main plateau period and take-or-pay.

Energean Israel (Energean 70%) now has firm GSPAs in place for the supply of approximately 7.0 bcm/yr on plateau. Having secured sufficient resources to fill the FPSO for a number of years, Energean’s near-term strategy is to secure the necessary offtake to fill the remaining 1.0 bcm/yr of spare capacity in the 8 bcm/yr Energean Power FPSO. Energean is assessing several opportunities in both the Israeli domestic market and key export markets in order to meet this target, alongside reviewing further growth opportunities across the nine exploration blocks that it holds in Israel to further expand its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Mathios Rigas, Energean’s CEO, commented: “We are delighted to have signed these additional gas sales agreements, which increase firm gas sales to 7 bcm/yr on plateau from our flagship Karish gas project, which is on track to deliver first gas in 2H 2021 and I want to thank Edeltech and Shikun & Binui for their continued trust.

We remain committed to continue bringing competition and security of supply to the Israeli gas market even after we fill the Karish FPSO to its maximum 8 bcm/yr capacity.

The new contracts we signed today further strengthen our secured revenues stream, which is well-insulated against future commodity price fluctuations, and provide cash flows that will support our strategic goal of paying a sustainable dividend to our shareholders.”

 

New target model department at Mytilineos, raising retail, RES goals

The Mytilineos group is assembling a new energy management and trading division, described as a pioneering effort for Greece, in preparation for the forthcoming arrival of the target model.

The new division will be tasked with handling all the group’s electricity production and trading matters, as well as natural gas trading and import activities, the objective being to bring together all the aforementioned concerns under the one management system.

Much is expected of this initiative, Evangelos Mytilineos (home), the group’s chairman and CEO, told analysts during a presentation of company first-half results.

The energy supply market is not yet mature enough for further concentration, Mytilineos noted, making clear his corporation is prepared for this prospect.

He attributed favorable results in the energy sector to low natural gas prices, forecasting a correction in the second half.

The Mytilineos group aims to have captured a 10 percent share of the retail energy market by the end of 2020, its head official noted.

The group has also set elevated RES goals and is aiming for 300 MW of operational wind energy farms and several more hundred MW at various stages of development by the end of 2021, Mytilineos informed.

Negotiations with power utility PPC for new electricity tariffs concerning aluminium producer Aluminium of Greece, a Mytilineos group member, are in progress, he added.

The cost of industrial electricity tariffs is a crucially important issue for the government and power utility PPC.

Mytilineos said he expects metal prices to rebound in the second half of this year, noting the group is not exposed to any price fluctuations for the remainder in 2020 as a result of hedging.

The group’s financial results for 2020 will be close to record levels posted for 2019, analysts were informed.

First-half results have taken the group a step closer to its objectives for the year, while, barring unexpected developments, last year’s dividend level will be maintained, the CEO added.

DESFA one step away from Alexandroupoli FSRU entry

Just days after the entry of Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz, Greek gas grid operator DESFA appears set to become the fifth member of Gastrade, the company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal envisioned for Greece’s northeast.

Talks concerning a DESFA entry, ongoing since the beginning of this year, have essentially concluded, while an announcement of the operator’s entry into Gastrade’s line-up is expected soon, no later than the end of September, energypress sources informed.

DESFA’s interest to join the consortium for the Alexandroupoli FSRU project, the first ever private-sector plan for such infrastructure in Greece, reflects the intention of the company’s new ownership and administration to broaden DESFA’s role from gas grid operator to a major player in Greece’s natural gas market.

As for Gastrade, keen to establish partnerships that support its strategic objectives, DESFA’s expected entry into the Alexandroupoli FSRU consortium appears to have been encouraged as a result of the operator’s knowhow, as a TSO, in LNG and the Greek gas market, its players, as well as the legal framework.

DESFA’s entry would also give the Greek State a stake in the Alexandroupoli project, supported for years by the previous and current Greek governments.

Besides the Copelouzos group, holding a 40 percent stake, the Gastrade consortium is currently also made up of Gaslog, Greek gas utility DEPA, and Bulgartransgaz, each holding 20 percent stakes. The entry of a fifth member will give all partners equal 20 percent shares.

The project, budgeted at 380 million euros, is expected to be launched no later than early 2023.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU, along with the existing Revythoussa islet LNG terminal just off Athens, are crucial given the current strains in Greek-Turkish relations as the two units represent the country’s only gas infrastructure not relying on Turkish territory.

The LNG terminals also promise to increase competition in the regional market and reduce natural gas supply costs to neighboring countries.

A market test was successfully completed for the Alexandroupoli FSRU in March.

Industrial consumers rebated for gas network usage surcharge

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has delivered an official decision vindicating the industrial sector, after a four year wait, in a dispute concerning temporary natural gas distribution surcharges imposed on consumers by ordering offsetting measures leading to rebates for the period in question, between August 14, 2015 to December 1, 2016.

EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers, challenged the introduction of this temporary gas distribution surcharge for industrial gas consumers, deemed as a breach of EU rules. It burdened industrial gas consumers at a rate of 4 euros per MWh.

Industrial consumers will receive rebates, based on a specific formula, covering the aforementioned period, according to the RAE decision, published in the government gazette yesterday.

According to industrial sector estimates, the surcharge sum to be returned to industrial consumers is estimated between 2.5 million and thee million euros. The rebate may be distributed in installments over a period of up to five years.

This surcharge did not reflect the costs of operators, arrived as a disproportionate cost for certain consumer categories using the network, and should have been determined and introduced by RAE, not through a legislative procedure, EVIKEN argued in its case before being vindicated by RAE as well as the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy.

Discrepancies observed exceeded 100 percent for most energy-intensive industrial enterprises.

The industrial sector will not tolerate any breach of EU rules concerning the new market’s framework, Antonis Kontoleon, the head official at EVIKEN, stressed.

Brussels’ Directorate-General for Energy had supported EVIKEN on all aspects of the dispute through a surveillance report delivered in November, essentially preannouncing the RAE decision.

 

 

 

Clearer framework needed for new gas distribution networks

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has identified the need for clear-cut, objective terms, based on technocratic criteria, for an improved strategy to help take natural gas to regions around the country without distribution network access at present.

Approval procedures for development plans submitted by gas distribution companies are currently in progress, and, in addition, the distribution sector is being restructured.

The energy ministry has made clear it wants a consistent and modern framework to facilitate the development of new distribution networks in as many parts of Greece as possible, a government objective.

Gas sector conditions also need to be made as clear as possible ahead of the privatization of DEPA Infrastructure, owning gas distributor EDA Attiki, servicing the wider Athens area; 51 percent of EDA Thess, covering the Thessaloniki area; and DEDA, distributing to all other regions not serviced by the two aforementioned firms.

RAE is now preparing a new framework concerning the appraisal and approval of development plans by gas distribution companies, as well as a formula for their earnings.

 

 

 

DEPA Infrastructure VDR open, DEPA Commercial data soon

A virtual data room has just been opened for the six bidding teams preparing to make second-round offers in the privatization of gas company DEPA Infrastracture, an offshoot of gas utility DEPA.

Czech company EPH, Italy’s Italgas, the Australian investment funds First State Investments and Macquarie, US firm KKR and China’s Sino-CEEF & Shanghai Dazhong Public Utilities now have access to all relevant data concerning the DEPA Infrastructure sale.

Another VDR is expected to be opened within the next few days for bidders participating in the privatization of DEPA Commercial, DEPA’s other entity up for sale.

The participants in this sale, seven entries in total, are: Motor Oil Hellas-PPC, ELPE-Edison, Mytilineos, GEK-TERNA, the Copelouzos group, Dutch company Shell and the Swiss-based MET Group.

VDR information for the DEPA Commercial sale will be made available over three phases as a protective measure intended to ensure competition. The first phase, offering non-sensitive data, will be open for all. Access to VDR information during the second stage, offering sensitive data, will be restricted to consultants. Bidders will be offered conditional access to confidential information in the third phase.

Greece’s privatization fund TAIPED is aiming to declare preferred bidders for both sales in the final quarter of this year. Market officials, however, believe this is more likely to occur in the first quarter of 2021.

DEPA Commercial bidders are allowed to team up and establish consortiums but partnerships for the DEPA Infrastructure sale are not permitted.

Bidders participating in the DEPA Commercial sale are mainly eyeing the company’s prized asset, retail gas supplier and subsidiary Fysiko Aerio Attikis, covering the wider Athens area. This company already serves close to 400,000 households and 10,000 businesses.

Alexandroupoli FSRU investment decision later in ’20

Investors behind the Alexandroupoli FSRU are expected to make final decisions on the project’s development in the final quarter of this year.

Two pending issues, the completion of a regulatory framework for the project, as well as approval by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition of the project and funding via the National Strategic Reference Framework (2014-2020), are expected to be resolved by the final quarter.

Also, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is soon expected to reach a preliminary decision exempting the FSRU from compulsory access to third parties as well as tariff adjustments every three to four years. This decision, needed for the project’s regulatory framework, is expected by late October or early November, when the European Commission’s approval is anticipated.

The Directorate-General for Competition will also need to give the green light for NSRF funding.

Once these pending issues are all resolved, investors will be able to decide on the project’s development, expected to require two years to construct. Investors envision a launch in 2023.

Yesterday’s anticipated entry of Bulgartransgaz, for a 20 percent stake, highlights the project’s regional prospects. This regional dimension will be highlighted even further if ongoing Romanian interest is materialized.  Talks that have been going on for some time were disrupted by the pandemic.

For the time being, Greek gas utility DEPA, Gaslog and Bulgartransgaz each have 20 percent stakes, while the Copelouzos group holds a 40 percent share. The entry into the project of Gastrade, as a fifth partner, remains pending.

Most crucial for the project’s prospects, a market test completed in March showed that the Alexandroupoli FSRU is sustainable. The test prompted a big response from Greek and international gas traders, who placed capacity reservation bids for a total of 2.6 billion cubic meters per year.

US interest for LNG supply via the Alexandroupoli FSRU is strong. Last year, Cheniere sold a big shipment to Greek gas utility DEPA, while a further ten American shipments have been made so far this year.

Greece is ‘hydrocarbon-promising, strategically located’

By Mr. Tassos Vlassopoulos

CEO of Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) Upstream

Greece has an old connection with hydrocarbons. More than 2,500 years ago, Herodotus mentioned the famous oil seep in Keri Zakynthos that still brings oil to the surface.

However, this connection is not only ancient. Besides the still producing Prinos Oil field and the verified West Katakolo Oil and Gas field, recent exploration activity has generated interest in the Greek hydrocarbons sector.

Oil and gas exploration began prior to the 2nd World War and intensified in late 70s to late 90s. A new turn was taken after 2015, as the collection of some new data was completed, prompting the proposal of new ideas.  International oil companies (e.g. TOTAL, ExxonMobil, Repsol, Edison), proceeded in several ventures in Greece and ELPE Upstream became an attractive partner.

Greece’s west, both onshore and offshore, seems to share many similarities with well-established Albanian and Italian hydrocarbon areas. In addition, following recent discoveries in our broader region, blocks around Crete were carved out. Total, Exxon and Hellenic Petroleum will be exploring their deep waters.

Greece is still considered an under-explored area despite the fact that more than 70,000 km of 2D and 2,000 km2 of 3D seismic lines have been acquired in addition to about 100 wells that have been drilled. However, recent technological developments enable feasible exploration of deeper waters, assuming the prospects are promising.

Greece, apart from being a hydrocarbons-promising area, is also strategically located in the middle of Mediterranean. The country is situated at the crossroads for transporting gas, from the current or future producing fields in the Caspian and the Eastern Mediterranean, to Western Europe. IGB (Gas Interconnector to link Greece with Bulgaria), Poseidon, TAP and East-Med are at different stages of development, They will link Greece and Europe’s west with all producing regions in proximity and provide potential leverage for potential developments in the regions of western Greece and Crete.

Oil and gas remains a key element of the energy mix, though the discussion on climate change continues and renewable energy solution costs have been declining. Natural gas is the transitional fuel, as we move away from coal and trend towards renewables. Electric vehicles are penetrating selected markets but not yet on a large scale, globally. Oil remains the main fuel for all other modes of transportation and petrochemicals have no real alternatives in the foreseeable future.

Two, possibly three, bidders for South Kavala UGS license

An upcoming tender to offer an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) license for the almost depleted South Kavala offshore natural gas field in the country’s north is expected to attract the interest of two, or possibly three, bidding teams.

Interested parties have been given an extension to express non-binding first-round interest. Prospective participants are busy preparing.

The participation of Storengy – a three-member consortium formed by France’s Engie, Energean Oil & Gas, holder of the South Kavala field’s license, and construction firm GEK-Terna – is considered a certainty as this consortium was established in anticipation of this tender.

Greek gas grid operator DESFA, increasingly active, since its privatization, in various projects, including some beyond its more customary operator-related bounds, is seen as another certain bidder for the South Kavala UGS license.

Senfluga, the consortium of companies that acquired a 66 percent stake of DESFA, appears very interested in the South Kavala UGS tender. This consortium’s current line-up is comprised of: Snam (54%), Enagas (18%), Fluxys (18%) and Copelouzos group member Damco (10%).

Though Senfluga’s three foreign partners – Snam, Enagas and Fluxys – are examining the prospect of joining DESFA to express joint interest, separate bids from the two sides are considered likeliest. The main reason for this has to do with certain tender rules that restrict the ability of consortiums participating in the first round to then reshuffle, if needed.

Pricing policy regulations expected from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, ahead of binding offers, will be crucial to how the tender plays out as these rules will determine the project’s earnings potential and level of bids.

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.

 

 

Tension rises as Turkish vessel enters Greek continental shelf

The situation concerning the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis, which entered the easternmost point of the Greek continental shelf yesterday, is unchanged today, the Athens-Macedonian News Agency has reported.

Oruc Reis is accompanied by Turkish naval units, while the situation is being monitored by the Greek Armed Forces, the Greek news agency has reported.

Tension has re-escalated in the east Mediterranean since yesterday afternoon, with Turkey disputing, in practice, the Greek-Egyptian EEZ agreement through the presence and maneuvering of its Oruc Reis research vessel and Turkish warships.

Turkish survey systems are believed to be ready for application, but, according to Greek estimates, research work cannot proceed as a result of noise being generated by nearby ships, both Greek and Turkish.

Greek navy units, lined up opposite the Turkish ships, are seeking to prompt a Turkish withdrawal. The Greek Air Force and Army are also on standby.

Posting on Twitter, Cagatay Erciyes, a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official, noted that Greece has created problems because of a 10-square-kilometer Greek island named Kastellorizo, which lies 2 kilometers away from the Turkish mainland and 580 kilometers from the Greek mainland.

“Greece is claiming 40,000 km2 of maritime jurisdiction area due to this tiny island and attempting to stop the Oruc Reis and block Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.

“This maximalist claim is not compatible with international law. It is against the principle of equality. Yet Greece is asking the EU and US to support this claim and put pressure on Turkey to cease its legitimate offshore activities. This is not acceptable and reasonable,” he said.

Cyprus has responded by issuing a Navtex of its own, effective from today until August 23, through which it notifies that the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis and accompanying vessels are conducting illegal operations within Cyprus’ EEZ.

DEPA sales down by €210m in 2019, LNG, competition factors

Gas utility DEPA’s sales, down by approximately 210 million euros in 2019, a year in which gas consumption and import records were broken, highlight the domestic gas market’s intensified competition and impact on the corporation, which has just posted its annual results for last year on the company website.

Gas consumption in the Greek market last year reached 57.4 TWh, up from 52.4 TWh in 2018, while gas imports in 2019 totaled 57.7 TWh, the majority, 54.5 percent, in the form of LNG and the remaining 45.5 percent as pipeline gas.

Intensified competition and lower LNG prices were cited as key reasons behind DEPA’s reduces sales, from 970.9 million euros in 2018 to 760 million euros last year.

“International gas market conditions during 2019 were characterized by significant price reductions at international hubs and an LNG oversupply, which led to a corresponding reduction of LNG prices in spot markets,” DEPA noted.

These conditions encouraged opportunistic imports by major consumers in Greece who generally cover a great part of their needs through DEPA long-term supply contracts, the gas utility noted.

Besides lower LNG prices, DEPA’s long-term contracts for pipeline gas supply were another factor behind DEPA’s reduced sales figures in 2019.

DEPA’s administration successfully negotiated a supply contract revision with Russia’s Gazprom, effective as of the second half of 2019, enabling greater LNG indexing on pipeline gas prices. This revision will help bring about a rebound, the company anticipates.

Greece, Egypt sign EEZ agreement, Turkey reacts

A Greek-Egyptian agreement signed yesterday to designate an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean between the two countries, an area containing promising oil and gas reserves, “confirms and secures the continental shelf and EEZ rights and influence of our islands,” declared Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

The agreement, co-signed by Dendias with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo, takes Greek-Egyptian relations to a new level of closer ties, Dendias noted.

“The agreement with Egypt is within the framework of international law, respects all concepts of international law and the law of the sea and good neighbourly relations, and contributes to security and stability in the region,” Dendias said.

The agreement between Greece and Egypt is the complete opposite of an illegal, invalid and legally groundless memorandum of understanding between Turkey and Libya, now nullified, he pointed out.

Greece is determined to establish EEZ agreements with all other neighboring countries, always within the framework of international law and the law of the sea, Dendias noted, citing yesterday’s Greek-Egyptian agreement and an agreement in June with Italy.

The Greek agreement with Italy, on maritime boundaries that established an EEZ, resolved longstanding issues over fishing rights in the Ionian Sea.

Turkey responded to yesterday’s Greek-Egyptian agreement by notifying it has scheduled a live-fire military exercise at a sea area between the Greek islands Rhodes and Kastelorizo for August 10 and 11.

Wholesale electricity prices down considerably in first half

The System Marginal Price, or wholesale electricity price, has fallen considerably and consistently throughout the first half of the year, driven down by lower natural gas prices and a dramatic contraction of lignite-fired generation, now a costly option.

Official data released by the energy exchange shows lignite’s energy mix dominance is fading and renewable energy sources are gaining ground, while natural gas-fueled generation is consistently at the helm. 

The SMP fell throughout the first-half period, falling 22.45 percent to 59.68 euros per MWh in January, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier; 28.55 percent to 49.23 euros per MWh in February; 43.65 percent to 43.65 euros per MWh in March; 54.31 percent to 28.51 euros per MWh in April; 48 percent to 34.27 euros per MWh in May; and 50.04 percent to 34.04 euros per MWh in June.

The SMP is primarily determined by natural gas-fueled power stations, their price-setting involvement measuring 60 percent in June, the energy exchange data showed.

Also in June, natural gas was responsible for 48.06 percent of overall generation, the RES sector generated 34.74 percent of total production, hydropower contributed 9.77 percent, while lignite-fired generation was limited to 7.42 percent.

Prinos field rescue effort now at the finance ministry

A government effort to rescue offshore Prinos, Greece’s only producing field, in the north, is now in the hands of the finance ministry following preceding work at the energy ministry, sources have informed.

The field, like the wider upstream industry, has been impacted by the pandemic and plunge in oil prices.

Deputy finance minister Theodoros Skylakakis is now handling the Prinos rescue case following the transfer of a related file from the energy ministry.

According to the sources, three scenarios are being considered. A financing plan through a loan with Greek State guarantees appears to be the top priority. A second option entails the utilization of an alternate form of state aid. The other consideration involves the Greek State’s equity participation in the Prinos field’s license holder, Energean Oil & Gas.

The European Commission will need to offer its approval to any of these options as they all represent forms of state aid.

Energy ministry sources have avoided offering details but are confident a solution is in the making.

Gas, renewables cover 76% of electricity demand in June

Natural gas and renewable energy sources covered 76 percent of electricity demand in June, limiting lignite’s contribution to a mere 5 percent, latest figures provided by power grid operator IPTO have shown.

The development highlights the fast-approaching end of the lignite era in Greece, currently in transition towards green energy.

Natural gas-fueled generation in June covered 37 percent of electricity demand, plus 2 percent contributed by cooling, heating and power (CCHP) generation, while renewables contributed 37 percent, including hydropower input of 9 percent.

Highlighting lignite’s severely diminished role in generation, PPC restricted its lignite-fired generation last month by 75 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier.

During this same one-year period, renewable energy source generation increased by 7.6 percent, while natural gas-based electricity production was up by a milder 1.2 percent, the IPTO data showed.

In another noteworthy statistic, all of the country’s lignite units were switched off for 40 hours, continuously, for the first time in June.