Prinos field threatened by poor results, decline projection

Operations at the Prinos field, Greece’s only producing oil field, in the country’s offshore north, are in great danger of being disrupted following poor production figures in 2020 and a further decline predicted for 2021, a wider company update just delivered by Energean Oil & Gas, the field’s license holder, has suggested.

In 2020, production at the oil field reached just 1,800 barrels per day, while its inferior-quality output was sold at a discount price, between 7 to 8 dollars below Brent levels.

This level of output represents less than 4 percent of Energean’s overall production, which, last year, reached 48,000 barrels – mostly natural gas.

Output at the Prinos field is projected to drop below 1,500 bpd in 2021 as, even if a rescue plan for the facility is approved, related investments needed at the facility will take time to complete.

The rescue plan, announced last June by Energean and dubbed Green Prinos, envisions an adjustment for eco-friendly operations through a series of investments worth 75 million euros.

Energean’s administration, in its company update to analysts, expressed hope that a solution can be found in the first quarter of 2021 for its rescue plan, submitted to the Greek government, which then forwarded the plan to the European Commission.

The rescue plan has remained stuck at the European Directorate for Competition, whose approval is required.

Energean is considering the development of a carbon capture and storage project at its Prinos field, which would be the first in Greece, promising new life for the project, along with the support of investments at field E, whose development depends on the outcome of a financing bid, company officials informed.

Overall, the news for the Prinos field is not good. Losses incurred by this unit since September, 2019, when its crisis began before being further aggravated by the pandemic, have exceeded 100 million euros.

This loss, however, has not affected the overall financial results of Energean, generating significant earnings in Egypt, primarily. Israel, too, could become a major source of earnings for the company as of next year.

Mediterranean Gas & Energy Week, key regional summit, starts tomorrow

Two of the Mediterranean’s most important summits, the 3rd Mediterranean Oil & Gas Summit and the 8th Balkans Petroleum, have merged for Mediterranean Gas & Energy Week, a major online oil & gas event, taking place take January 19 to 21.

Following the success of the Global E&P Summit and the regional Africa Upstream, Gas & LNG Summit, North Africa’s governments will be gathering again to meet with European and Balkans officials and IOCs at the Mediterranean Gas & Energy Week, organized by IN-VR, global leader in investment networking.

Key IOCs, investors and service providers will present their new opportunities and solutions, and network with attendees
online.

Top-ranked government officials from the region, including Greece, Montenegro, Malta and Albania, will present their licensing rounds, LNG mega-projects, and new midstream projects, together with the Mediterranean’s most-established investors and new players, including Shell, TAQA Arabia, Dana Gas and Enagas.

Also, over its three days, the event promises to be filled with networking opportunities and the latest upstream and midstream developments.

Participants will include:

● Vladan Dubljević, Director, Montenegro Hydrocarbon Administration
● Alexandra Sdoukou, Secretary General for Energy and Mineral Resources, Ministry of the Environment and Energy of Greece
● Adrian Bylyku, Executive Director, AKBN
● Dr Albert Caruana, Director General, Continental Shelf Department, Office of the Prime Minister, Malta
● Khaled Abu Bakr, Executive Chairman, TAQA Arabia
● Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO, Dana Gas
● Francisco de la Flor, Director of International Organizations, Enagas
● Morris J. Becker, Senior Exploration Geoscientist – Portfolio & New Business, Middle East and Africa, Shell
● Charles Ellinas, CEO, EC Cyprus Natural Hydrocarbons Company Ltd (eCNHC)

Brussels forwards new PCI list, to be finalized late this year

The European Commission’s fifth PCI (Projects of Common Interest) list in the electricity and natural gas sectors, being forwarded for public consultation, features, for now, a number of project additions and removals, compared to the previous edition.

Market officials and state authorities will have the opportunity to offer their views and observations over the consultation procedure’s twelve-week period before the European Commission adopts a finalized version of the fifth PCI list towards the end of 2021, based on an existing Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) framework, focused on linking the energy infrastructure of EU countries.

PCI projects are entitled to EU funding support. Brussels authorities introduced selection criteria revisions in December, ascertaining, however, that the impact of all projects, especially on CO2 emissions, will be appraised when finalizing the PCI list’s fifth edition.

The provisional list includes a number of electricity and gas sector projects concerning Greece.

Electricity-sector projects involving Greece include: a Bulgarian-Greek grid interconnection, expected to be completed in 2023; an Egyptian-Greek-Libyan grid interconnection headed by Green Power 2020 and scheduled for delivery in 2025; as well as three Egypt-Greece interconnections, two of these featuring Kykladika Meltemia SA as project promoter and expected to be respectively completed in 2025 and 2028, and a third headed by Elica SA and scheduled for completion in 2028.

An energy storage project planned by Eunice for Ptolemaida, northern Greece, and scheduled for completion in 2022 is a new entry on the PCI list.

In the natural gas sector, the PCI list includes: the Alexandroupoli FSRU (2022); a subsea pipeline between Greece and Italy, known as the Poseidon Pipeline (2025); EastMed, a pipeline planned to carry natural gas from the east Mediterranean to European markets, via Crete (2025); a compressor station in Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area (2022); a metering and regulating station in Megalopoli, Peloponnese (2025); a compressor station in Abelia, in Greece’s mid-north (2023); a compressor station in Kipoi, northeastern Greece (2024); a pipeline link for the Alexandroupoli FSRU (2022); a TAP pipeline capacity increase (2025); and the development of an underground gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece (2023).

Energean plc takes Final Investment Decision on Karish North development

Energean plc has taken Final Investment Decision (FID) on the Karish North gas development, offshore Israel, 21-months after the announcement of the discovery, the company has announced in a statement.

In November 2020, DeGolyer and MacNaughton issued an independent Competent Persons Report that, inter alia, certified 2P reserves of 32 Bcm of gas plus 34 million barrels of liquids
(approximately 241 million barrels of oil equivalent in aggregate) in Karish North as at 30 June 2020.

The discovery will be commercialised via a low-cost tie-back to the Energean Power FPSO, which will be just 5.4km away.

Production from the first well at Karish North is expected to be up
to 300 mmscf/d (approximately 3 Bcm/yr) and first production is expected during 2H 2023.

Initial capital expenditure in the project is expected to be approximately $150 million, or $0.6/boe; and Energean estimates that the project will deliver IRRs in excess of 40%.

On 13 January 2020, Energean signed an 18-month, $700 million term loan facility agreement with J.P. Morgan AG and Morgan Stanley Senior Funding, Inc., the primary uses of
which will be:

• Accelerating the development of Karish North, enabling the capital expenditure on the project to be undertaken in advance of first gas from Karish Main. Following first gas from Karish North, the overall Karish project well stock will be able to produce well in excess of
the full 8 Bcm/yr capacity of the FPSO, retaining operational redundancy in the well stock therefore further enhancing overall project reliability.

• Funding the $175 million up-front consideration for the acquisition of the minority interest in Energean Israel Limited, as announced on 30 December 2020, which becomes payable on transaction close, expected 1Q 2021. Energean views the acquisition, for between $380 million and $405 million in total, as highly value-accretive, with very attractive transaction metrics.

Additional uses of the loan are:

• Funding approximately $100 million of capital expenditure required to install the second oil train and second riser on the Energean Power FPSO, which will increase the Energean Power FPSO liquids production capacity to approximately 40 kbopd ( from 21 kbopd) and allow maximum gas production of 800 mmscf/d (approximately 8 Bcm/yr, from 6.5 Bcm/yr). Both the oil train and the second riser are expected to become operational during 2022.

• The 2022 offshore Israel exploration and appraisal drilling programme in early 2022, with up to five wells including:

  • Appraisal of the potential oil rim that was identified as part of the Karish development drilling campaign plus exploration of further prospective gas and liquids volumes within the Karish lease.
  • Block 12, which is located between the Karish and Tanin leases, and is estimated to contain gross prospective recoverable resources in excess of 108 Bcm (3.8 Tcf)
    according to the D&M CPR, with the primary targets having geological chances of success ranging between 63% and 79%. The first well is expected to target the 20
    Bcm (0.7 Tcf) Athena prospect, for which the primary target (11 Bcm /0.4 Tcf) has a 70% geological chance of success. Success at Athena would significantly de-risk
    the remaining 88 Bcm (3.1 Tcf) of prospective resources in the block. Any discovery in that block would be prioritised over the development of Tanin due to (i) lower capital expenditure investment (as compared to Tanin) and (ii) the absence of any seller royalties, unlike the Karish and Tanin leases as Block 12 was not part of the original Karish-Tanin acquisition.
  • Additional prospects assessed to contain 102 Bcm (3.6 Tcf) of gross recoverable prospective resources, based on management estimates, in Energean Israel’s remaining exploration blocks.
    • Whilst total pre-production capex guidance for the Karish Main project remains at $1.7 billion plus the $140 million of deferred payments to TechnipFMC, the balance of the Loan will provide further financial flexibility for Energean Israel Limited.
    The Loan will only be drawn to the extent necessitated and drawn amounts will attract a margin of 5.75%, which steps up by 0.25% every three months, with a maximum of 7.00%. The Loan has been sized to cover the cost of associated fees and interest. Energean maintains its target to retain its medium-term net debt / EBITDAX ratio below 2.0x                                                                                                                                                    On 13 January 2021, Energean also agreed with the existing lenders of its $1.45 billion project finance facility to extend the maturity by nine months, from December 2021 to September 2022.
    Combined with the above Loan, the extension to the maturity date of the project finance facility provides Energean the necessary time and flexibility to optimise its long-term capital structure.
    This is expected to take place in 2021, depending on market conditions.                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mathios Rigas, CEO of Energean, commented: “I am delighted that we have taken Final Investment on Karish North, proving the value of the Energean Power FPSO as a quick and low-cost commercialisation route for our assets in Israel.
    We are also increasing the liquid processing capacity of our FPSO to process the additional volumes we discovered for minimal incremental cost.
    The new term loan and the extension of our project finance facility are a further testament of the confidence of the financial markets in Energean and I want to thank all the institutions for their support. We remain committed to optimising our capital structure to ensure that we maximise total shareholder returns whilst implementing our growth ambitions in Israel and the East Med. We remain on track to achieve our goal of delivering meaningful free cash flows that will support the payment of a sustainable dividend whilst also moving towards our stated target to achieve
    net zero emissions.”

DEPA calls for RAE to prioritize Kipoi, Abelia compressor stations

Gas utility DEPA has underlined the gas-supply security importance of two prospective compressor stations in Kipoi, northeastern Greece, and Abelia, in the mid-north, urging RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to prioritize their development.

The two projects, on a RAE list of infrastructure projects for preventive action, are expected to significantly improve energy supply security in Greece over the mid and long-term by facilitating the transportation process of natural gas.

DEPA stressed the importance of the two compressor stations in a letter forwarded to RAE’s public consultation procedure on its preventive action plan.

The two compressor stations are vital for grid-connection and gas-flow purposes concerning the prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU and an underground gas storage facility (UGS) planned for development at an almost depleted offshore natural gas field in South Kavala, DEPA pointed out in its letter.

Also, the Abelia compressor station is needed to ensure hydraulic gas-flow sufficiency from north to south, via the TAP project, DEPA noted.

Both compressor station projects feature in gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030.

South Kavala UGS tender qualifiers by early February

Greece’s privatization fund TAIPED will finalize its list of second-round qualifiers in a tender offering development and operation of an underground gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece by late January or early February, sources have informed.

Three parties submitted first-round expressions of interest: China Machinery Engineering Co. Ltd. (CMEC) – Maison Group; DESFA – GEK Terna; and Energean Oil & Gas (in alphabetical order).

Assessments of their supporting documents and other criteria are expected to be completed within the next twenty days.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, still needs to deliver decisions concerning the operating framework of the UGS.

These pending issues include a RAE decision on the percentage of the UGS project’s capacity to be regulated, thus pre-determining this proportion’s revenue, and the earnings percentage to be determined by market forces.

The authority also needs to decide on the duration of the regulatory period and its WACC level.

North Macedonia involvement in key Alexandroupoli projects

North Macedonia plans to help cover its energy needs through an involvement in two Greek-based projects, the prospective FSRU in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, and, in the same region, a gas-fueled power station to run on LNG stemming from the floating LNG terminal.

Much progress has been made on the neighboring country’s interest in these two projects since a meeting in Athens last September between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his North Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev. The partnership also represents a strategic decision for the Greek government.

It is considered certain that a state-owned North Macedonian company will soon enter the Alexandroupoli FSRU project’s equity pool with a 10 percent stake, energypress sources have informed.

This project’s five current partners – Copelouzos group, Gaslog, Greek gas utility DEPA, Greek gas grid operator DESFA and Bulgartransgaz – are expected to each offer small portions of their respective 20 percent stakes to make available a 10 percent stake for the state-owned North Macedonian company in the Alexandroupoli FSRU.

The project’s development is not expected to be impacted by any equity reshuffles.

Two international tenders staged by Gastrade, a company established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, have been successfully completed. One of the two tender concerns the FSRU’s construction. The other concerns the installation of pipelines linking this facility to the national gas grid.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU consortium is expected to make a final investment decision in late February, sources informed.

On the other front, ESM, North Macedonia’s state electricity company, is expected to acquire a 25 percent stake in a gas-fueled power station to be developed by Damco Energy, a Copelouzos group subsidiary, in Alexandroupoli’s industrial zone.

The initiative will secure 200 MW of the facility’s 800-MW capacity for North Macedonia. The country currently has an electricity deficit of approximately 2 GWh.

Bulgarian state-owned electricity company NEK EAD also appears interested in acquiring a stake in the Alexandroupoli power station. Bulgaria has projected an electricity deficit a few years from now as the country must phase out major lignite-fired power stations. European Commission exemptions extending the lifespans of these units are expiring.

Gas market competition intensifies, TAP lowering prices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New minister, just appointed, has issues to resolve in 2021

Kostas Skrekas, just appointed new energy minister as part of the government’s cabinet reshuffle, in place of Costis Hatzidakis, who has headed the ministry for a constructive year and a half, faces a series of pending energy-sector matters that remained unresolved in 2020. They need to be addressed as soon as possible. Developments and conditions this year will be pivotal for these matters.

Skrekas was previously deputy minister for agricultural development and food.

Also in 2021, a year during which takeovers and mergers are seen occurring in the retail electricity and gas markets, rivals will continue battling for market share gains. The target model’s launch two months ago has brought about new conditions, strengthening the positions of vertically integrated suppliers.

The need for a normalization of the target model’s new markets stands as the energy ministry’s most pressing task at present. A sharp rise in wholesale electricity prices as a result of soaring balancing market costs has deeply unsettled the market, impacting the standings of non-vertically integrated suppliers, as well as industrial enterprises and consumers, who face rising bills.

Market coupling with Bulgaria’s day-ahead market, scheduled to take place within the first three months of the new year, is the next step of the target model, a procedure designed to harmonize EU energy markets and promote competition.

New energy-intensive industrial tariffs also need to be set soon. Though essentially a matter concerning state-controlled power utility PPC and Greece’s industrial players, the cost of industrial energy is crucial for Greek industry, carrying particular political and economic weight.

Also, Greece has little time left in its negotiations with Brussels for a framework to offer third parties access to PPC’s lignite-based generation. This issue is no longer as crucial as it once was because the country’s lignite output has been drastically reduced. Even so, it remains important for independent suppliers.

A number of energy-sector privatizations could be completed this year. Gas utility DEPA’s two new entities, DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Commercial, electricity distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, and a tender for a tender for the development of an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) in the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in northern Greece are all on this year’s privatization list.

In renewable energy, the ministry needs to take decisions within the first few months to clarify terms regulating the sector. RES investment interest is currently high. Steps still need to be taken in an ongoing effort to simplify RES licensing procedures, while a legal framework must be established for energy storage, offshore wind farms and hydrogen use.

 

PPC holding back on Ptolemaida V fuel decision

Power utility PPC will take ongoing global technological developments and their comparative costs into account to decide, in approximately a year’s time, on the fuel to be used at its prospective Ptolemaida V power station in northern Greece from 2028 onwards, when a switch from lignite has been scheduled.

The facility, expected to be completed in 2022, is initially planned to operate as a lignite-fired power station for a six-year period before switching to another fuel or fuels.

All options are being left open, meaning that, beyond 2028, Ptolemaida V could run on natural gas, biomass, waste-to-energy or a combination of these energy sources.

Biomass represents an advantageous option as it can be produced at the utility’s older lignite-fired units in the area, PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis has pointed out.

If a biomass option is chosen, PPC intends to provide land for farmers and cooperatives to cultivate plants for energy production. Yield potential and the local climate promise to be the two main factors behind PPC’s selection of plant species to be cultivated for biomass purposes.

Japan’s Mitsubishi, providing the new facility’s electromechanical equipment, was commissioned, some time ago, to conduct a study determining the optimal choice of fuel for Ptolemaida V beyond 2028.

Continued use of lignite, after 2028, at Ptolemaida V has also been tabled as a possibility if carbon-capture utilization and storage (CCUS) technology is applied for a zero net carbon footprint.

In such a case, the CCUS technology could be applied on a wider scale to lure industrial units to the region for the establishment of a new industrial zone.

Target model decision needed in 2021, Elpedison chief points out

The new year will demand a decision from authorities and market participants on whether a true target model for the electricity market is desired, Nikos Zahariadis, chief executive at Elpedison, has pointed out in an article published by energypress as part of a feature on 2021 prospects.

The market was caught by surprise during the launch of the new electricity market in the final weeks of 2020, the official pointed out. Balancing market costs rose sharply during this period.

Most authorities and participants were expecting a different development, including a solution for the market’s chronic “missing money” problem, as well as a drop in retail electricity prices, Zahariadis noted, expressing belief that the new year will present an opportunity, even for the unprepared, to adjust to the new conditions that will ultimately enable the new energy market to operate without restrictions and showcase its advantages.

However, the new market, even when it has matured and stabilized, will still pose threats, especially for players seeking to keep distinctly separate retail and production portfolios, as protection against price manipulation has stopped functioning since the launch of the target model, he pointed out.

Looking towards the future, a gradual prevalence of the RES sector is discernible, as long as economically feasible energy storage technology is developed, Zahariadis projected. Until then, the grid will rely on natural gas-fueled power stations, the only flexible solution available at present, he added.

As for the natural gas sector, two unrelated events late in 2018, the first being an expansion at the Revythoussa LNG terminal facilities that enables bigger tankers to dock, and the second, a drop in LNG prices, have brought about permanent change in the Greek market, the Elpedison official noted.

Market players responded swiftly with LNG imports, prompting gas price reductions along with concurrent electricity price reductions. Also, the first steps were taken towards the establishment of a Balkan hub for transboundary LNG sales, Zahariadis noted.

More gas market opportunities will be offered in 2021 through the TAP project’s functioning, the company official pointed out.

Elpedison has played a leading role in sector developments, capitalizing on opportunities by importing significant LNG amounts and capturing a key position in the wholesale gas market, Zahariadis added.

The completion of equipment procurement tenders for a new 800-MW combined cycle power station, a project that will enable Elpedison to double its production as of 2023 and gradually increase sales to higher levels, stands as the company’s biggest challenge in the new year, he noted.

Azeri gas through TAP route now just a fortnight away

Just two weeks remain before the scheduled launch of the TAP gas pipeline on January 1, a development to facilitate the inflow of Azeri gas into the Greek market.

This coming Monday, in the final step before the launch, the TAP project, running across Greece’s north, Albania and the Adriatic Sea to Italy, will be interconnected with Greek gas grid operator DESFA’s domestic network.

Greek gas utility DEPA has already reached an agreement with Azeri officials for an annual amount of 1 bcm through the TAP route. Azerbaijan is offering customers discount prices for 2021.

TAP’s Azeri natural gas supply to the Greek market will represent a fifth gas source alternative for Greece, bolstering the country’s energy security while also promising to offer benefits to consumers and the national economy.

The technical details of the TAP-DESFA pipeline interconnection, situated in Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area, were completed several weeks ago. The link has undergone testing over the past month or so.

DEPA Commercial, reshaping, seeks electricity supply license

DEPA Commercial, one of gas utility DEPA’s new entities established as part of its privatization, has applied for a 500-MW electricity supply license, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has announced.

This move by DEPA Commercial comes as part of the utility’s restructuring and transformation effort, sources said.

An electricity supply license promises to broaden DEPA Commercial’s portfolio, regardless of whether it will actually be used or not. In essence, the company, through this initiative, is making the most of tools available in the market, sources have concluded.

DEPA Commercial owns Fysiko Aerio – Hellenic Energy Company (EPA Attiki), a subsidiary already active in Greece’s electricity market. DEPA Commercial, however, could use its own electricity supply license for PPAs.

PPC energy outlay falls €886m, key to strong 3Q results

A decreasing reliance on lignite-fired power stations, nowadays an extremely costly generation option as a result of high-priced CO2 emission rights; lower wholesale electricity prices; and a drop in diesel and natural gas prices reduced power utility PPC’s energy expenses by 885.6 million euros in the nine-month period, to 1.4 billion euros from approximately 2.1 billion euros in the equivalent period a year earlier, the power utility has reported.

This cost reduction, spearheaded by chief executive Giorgos Stassis and his administration, played an important role in favorable results announced yesterday.

PPC’s liquid fuel expenses fell by 33 percent to 357.5 million euros during this year’s nine-month period as a result of the corporation’s lower liquid fuel-based generation as well as lower mazut and diesel prices.

The nine-month natural gas outlay for PPC also fell significantly, by 41.8 percent, to 206 million euros from 353.7 million euros, as a result of a 42.4 percent drop in natural gas prices.

PPC’s CO2 emission right expenses fell to 263.1 million euros in the nine-month period, from 406.9 million euros in the equivalent period of 2019, as a result of the company’s reduced emission levels, down to 10.9 million tons from 17.9 million tons.

The power utility’s lignite-based generation during the nine-month period dropped by 50.6 percent year-on-year.

PPC appears to have given space to rival electricity producers in the nine-month period, while increasing its operating profit, despite a retail market share contraction to 69.3 percent from 76 percent a year earlier.

Higher gas prices, projected to rise further, not impacting demand

Higher LNG and pipeline gas prices resulting from new market conditions have not impacted gas demand in the Greek market, a key driver being opportunities presented to electricity producers by the target model’s new trading markets.

Latest data has shown a significant price increase in futures contracts at central European hubs, compared to levels recorded just a few weeks ago.

This price rise is seen as somewhat of a paradox given the pandemic’s second wave, now in progress, and its wider impact on demand.

Officials believe the current upward price trajectory heralds an upcoming new round of higher gas prices following extremely low prices in recent times. They sunk to a low in spring.

In Greece, LNG prices are currently rising at a steeper rate compared to those for pipeline gas. Despite this ascent, demand has so far remained strong and no cancellations have been reported for LNG orders to the Revythoussa islet terminal just off Athens.

Pundits have attributed the absence of any LNG order cancellations to the need of electricity producers to be stocked up on gas quantities in readiness for grid entry and utilization of opportunities offered by the target model’s new balancing market.

Energean Israeli exploration to focus on gas deposits estimated at 62 bcm

Energean Oil & Gas will now focus its Israeli exploration activities on the Karish, Tanin and Block 12 fields in an effort to boost its certified natural gas and liquid hydrocarbon reserves.

Following yesterday’s announcements by the Greek company, according to which an independent Competent Persons Report by DeGolyer and MacNaughton certifies 98.2 Bcm (3.5 Tcf) of gas and 99.6 million barrels of liquids (MMbbls) at the Karish, Karish North and Tanin offshore fields of Israel, the exploration program will restart in 2022 for a boost of reserves through the Karish, Tanin and Block 12 licenses. Energean plans to stage its next drilling efforts in two years.

Estimates indicate 62 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 33.4 million barrels of liquid hydrocarbons, representing 431 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Energean will also focus on Block 12 targets – named after the Greek gods Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Athena and Hestia – estimated to carry prospective gas reserves measuring 32.7 billion cubic meters, more than half the overall 62 billion cubic meters.

Discovery of these prospective reserves is expected to further reinforce the Greek company’s standing on the southeast Mediterranean energy map.

Significant 2P reserves increase at Energean’s Israeli Assets

Energean plc has announced the completion of an independent Competent Persons Report by DeGolyer and MacNaughton, which certifies 98.2 Bcm (3.5 Tcf) of gas and 99.6 million barrels of liquids (MMbbls) gross (Energean 70%) 2P reserves in the Karish, Karish North and Tanin fields.

Energean’s gross 2P reserves in Israel now total approximately 729 million barrels of oil equivalent which represents a 44% uplift to previously estimated 2P reserves.

The increase was principally driven by the upgrade of resources following approval of the Karish North Field Development Plan by the Israeli government in August 2020. A Final Investment Decision for Karish North is expected in 4Q 2020.

The CPR also results in a 21.4% (17.5 MMbbls) increase in gross 2P liquid volumes and the field is now expected to average 28 kbpd liquid production over a plateau period of approximately five years. The additional liquids production is expected to have no discernible impact on the scope 1 and scope 2 carbon intensity of the fields, which is expected to remain at approximately 6 kgCO2/boe, (significantly lower than the E&P global average of 18 kgCO2/boe).

Further upside potential is represented by gross risked prospective resources across Energean’s Israeli portfolio of 62.0 Bcm of gas plus 33.4 MMbbls of liquids (approximately 431 MMboe in total). These prospective resource volumes will be targeted by Energean’s next exploration campaign, which is expected to commence in early 2022. All prospects are situated in close proximity to the Energean Power FPSO, representing potential low-cost tie-back options for future developments.                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mathios Rigas, CEO of Energean, commented: “We are delighted that our independent reserves auditor has confirmed 2P gas volumes of 98 Bcm within our Karish, Karish North and Tanin fields, offshore Israel, representing another year of continuous reserves growth in our portfolio. This gas, the majority of which has already been contracted, will be sold under fixed-price gas sales agreements that will protect our revenue stream from commodity price fluctuations, which underpins our strategic goal of paying a sustainable dividend.

The approximately 100 MMboe of 2P liquids reserves and production plateau averaging 28 kbpd over five years, represents a substantial increase on previous estimates, which further supplements our shareholder returns profile with high-margin production that has no incremental impact on our scope 1 and scope 2 CO2 emissions intensity.

We look forward to progressing the 62 Bcm and 33 MMbbls of risked prospective resources across our Karish and Tanin leases and in Block 12, with the intention to recommence our successful exploration programme in early-2022 and, through doing so, will continue to contribute to the diversity and security of natural gas supply into Israel and the wider Eastern Mediterranean.”

 

North Macedonia eyeing 25% stake in Alexandroupoli gas facility, PM says

North Macedonia may participate with a 25 percent stake in a natural gas facility in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, that promises to offer a production capacity double the size of the country’s gas shortage, totaling 2 GWh, North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has told state broadcaster Alsat.

Also, bureaucratic procedures concerning the development of a natural gas pipeline from Greece to North Macedonia are close to being completed, while talks with Okta, a Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) subsidiary, for a relaunch of the company’s oil pipeline running from Thessaloniki to Skopje are continuing, Zaev noted.

The North Macedonian leader also expressed an interest for the country to participate as a shareholder in the company to develop the Alexandroupoli FSRU, noting the country plans to utilize natural gas for all state facilities as “American LNG is far cheaper”.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU is expected to facilitate supply of American LNG to the Balkan region.

ELPE lockdown impact fears expressed amid poorer conditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bulgaria’s BEH reserves local capacity for gas market entry

Bulgaria’s state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holdings, participating in a gas auction staged by Greek gas grid operator DESFA, has reserved gas infrastructure capacity at the national grid’s crossing with the new TAP line in Nea Mesimvria, west of Thessaloniki, establishing a base for entry into the Greek gas market.

Greek gas utility DEPA reserved the biggest share, 29,000 MWh per day, at the auction, while Bulgaria’s BEH secured a smaller share of 3,300 MWh per day.

The DESFA auction offered Nea Mesimvria infrastructure capacities for the first quarter of 2021.

Local market authorities regard the Bulgarian company’s move as a positive step that reignites interest in the Greek market.

It remains to be seen if BEH can attract customers in the Greek market and supply here, or whether its share of TAP line gas, even if modest, will end up being used for Bulgarian market needs.

Either way, the Bulgarian company’s initiative can be interpreted as a positive move by an international player seeing potential in the Greek market.

Significant steps towards maturity have been made in recent years, but the Greek gas market still has ground to cover before reaching levels of liquidity and transparency achieved by major markets and hubs in central and western Europe.

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.