DEPA’s ICC victory over Botas promises wider boost for gas utility

Considerable time will be needed before a precise retroactive payment amount can be determined for gas utility DEPA following a favorable verdict by the ICC (International Court of Arbitration) in an overcharging case against Botas, Turkey’s state-run crude oil and gas company.

An initial estimate has put the retroactive amount to be received by DEPA at around 200 million euros.

DEPA claimed the Turkish company has overcharged for purchases – by the Greek utility – of Azerbaijani natural gas delivered through Turkish pipelines since 2011.

Importantly, DEPA stands to secure more competitive purchase prices for Azerbaijani gas until 2023, when the Greek utility’s transmission contract with Botas is due to expire.

DEPA covers approximately 40 percent of the total amount of natural gas it trades through this supply source, meaning the ruling’s favorable impact will be significant.

Meanwhile, DEPA is currently seeking more favorable terms from its two other suppliers, Russia’s Gazprom and Algeria’s Sonatrach.

Improved terms and supply prices promise to help DEPA rebound from consistently contracting market shares as a result of tougher competition over the past two to three years. Better conditions also promise a market boost for the Greek gas utility ahead of its upcoming privatization.

 

DEPA set to appeal court verdict ordering ELFE refund

Gas utility DEPA is expected to submit an appeal by Wednesday challenging an Athens Court of First Instance verdict delivered in October that vindicates ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals) for gas supply overcharging claims made against the utility.

The court ruling has ordered DEPA to return a sum of 63 million euros to ELFE for supply between 2010 and 2015 as a result of the application of a pricing formula used by Gazprom, pegging gas prices to international oil prices.

The Athens court ruled the pricing procedure should be based on formulas used by northern Europe hubs, which are not pegged to fluctuating international oil prices.

DEPA, in its appeal, will argue the pricing formula is not a local creation but, instead, used by Gazprom customers in the wider area such as North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania.

The gas utility, in its appeal, will also contend the Greek gas market, still isolated, cannot be compared to those of west and northern Europe as interconnected gas trading hubs operate in these regions.

The case could have wider ramifications for DEPA if ELFE is victorious because other  customers supplied by the Greek gas utility could emerge to dispute the Gazprom pricing formula and also request pricing revisions.

Also, if unsuccessful, DEPA would need to recalculate ELFE’s entire outstanding amount, currently worth 126 million euros.

DEPA, pivotal for Greek energy plan, pushing ahead internationally

Through its strategic involvement in an array of pipeline and infrastructure projects, Greek gas utility DEPA is becoming a key driver of Greece’s geopolitical upgrade and the diversification of supply sources for the wider region of South-East Europe.

DEPA is establishing its position in the region through a series of significant international projects such as the acceleration of IGB pipeline construction, participation in the IGI Poseidon pipeline  interconnecting Greece and Italy, and, surely, booking capacity in TAP which, from 2020 onwards, will transport Caspian gas to Europe.

Developments around East Med Pipeline are also rapid, with the most recent being IGI Poseidon’s (the 50% – 50% JV between DEPA S.A. and Edison S.p.A ) BoD decision to fast-track the completion of all pending stages that will bring the project to maturity.  The €70 million Feasibility Study is being accelerated, along with every other stage, to complete the East Med pipeline’s design, which will also pave the way for the final investment decision.

All the above are just one part of DEPA’s multifaceted international activity. Prior to that, in October, a bilateral agreement was signed in Sofia for the start of IGB pipeline construction, a project overseen by ICGB AD, in which DEPA has a 25% stake.

The project is expected to go into operation in July 2021, with an initial capacity of 3 billion cubic meters. At first, the entire load of gas will come from TAP that will go into operation within 2020, delivering Azeri gas to European markets, in which DEPA has booked capacity of 1 billion cubic meters. Thus, through IGB, the company will supply the Bulgarian market with Caspian gas, “breaking” for the first time the existing Russian monopoly.

Another major development took place just yesterday, when the company’s Board of Directors approved the participation of DEPA, with a 20% stake, to the equity of GASTRADE, the company developing the FSRU project in Alexandroupolis.

The Terminal is complementary to the IGB pipeline and consists of an FSRU (Floating Storage Regasification Unit), anchored 10 km off the coastal area of ​​Alexandroupolis, with storage capacity up to 170,000 cubic meters of LNG and 22.7 million cubic meters daily regasification capacity, per day (8.3 billion m3 / year), as well as a 28 km long onshore and subsea pipeline system.

The international presence of the company is also enhanced by the Greek-Italian energy interconnection through the IGI Poseidon pipeline, as well as the CYNERGY program that “breaks” Cyprus energy isolation by establishing a natural gas supply chain in the country.

Apart from its participation in international projects, equally important are the company’s long-term supply contracts with Russian Gazprom, Turkish BOTAS, Algerian Sonatrach, IGSC (Azerbaijan) through the TAP pipeline, as well as the procurement of significant quantities of LNG through the global SPOT market, at competitive prices.

DEPA’s CEO, Konstantinos Xifaras, summed up the company’s international role:

“For thirty years, DEPA has been a leading player in the Balkan energy sector, as well as an integral part of the European strategy for energy diversification and security of supply both of Greece and Europe.

At the same time, by deploying multilayered energy diplomacy and participating in major international projects, DEPA establishes Greece as a regional energy hub and upgrades its economic and geo-strategic importance.”

DEPA’s footprint is solid in the domestic energy market as well, where it recently prevailed in a tender process for natural gas supply to PPC in 2020. The company acknowledged as one of the two bidders, with the ability to supply PPC with 2 million MWh.

Greek-Cypriot-Israeli energy summit highlights US interest

Washington’s supportive interest in the energy partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel has grown, driven by the prospect of hydrocarbon exploration in the southeast Mediterranean region as well as the East Med natural gas pipeline, planned to carry Cypriot, Israeli and, possibly, Egyptian natural gas to the EU via Greece and Italy.

Highlighting this interest, an upcoming Athens energy summit, scheduled to take place on August 6 and 7, comes as a US initiative, energypress sources informed.

It will follow a meeting just days ago, at the East Med Gas Forum in Egypt, that brought together Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis with his Cypriot and Israeli peers, Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Yuval Steinitz, respectively. In addition, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently met with Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades.

US Assistant Secretary Francis Fannon, head of the Bureau of Energy Sources, will also take part in the Athens energy summit. Fannon is scheduled to meet with Hatzidakis, Greece’s energy minister, and the country’s deputy foreign minister Konstantinos Fragogiannis on the eve of the event.

The summit highlights the US-fostered partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, united against escalating Turkish tension concerning offshore hydrocarbon exploration plans within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The event’s participants are also expected to discuss the East Med pipeline. An agreement between the three countries and Italy remains pending. Last spring, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte claimed he sees no benefits for Italy in the project, effectively bringing the country’s effort in the matter to a standstill.

Washington openly supports this natural gas pipeline as it promises to establish an alternative supply route to Europe that would restrict Moscow’s energy dominance on the continent, through Gazprom.

Sideline efforts are being made to alter Italy’s negative stance, sources informed. A message could be projected to Rome through the imminent Athens event.

DEPA awaiting Gazprom news for lower gas price, LNG a market hit

Gas utility DEPA, which has asked for a lower natural gas supply price from Gazprom, can expect a response around June 15, the Russian gas giant has informed.

DEPA was driven to action by extremely low spot-market prices for LNG currently available in Europe.

Major European hubs, such as the TTF facility in the Netherlands, are currently offering prices of 10.928 euros per MWh, compared to Gazprom’s supply contract for the Balkans, including Greece, of approximately 20 euros per MWh.

It remains to be seen how DEPA will respond if the price-related news from Gazprom is not favorable.

LNG is projected to have captured roughly 55 percent of western European energy markets five years from now, up from approximately 40 percent last year, authorities told a recent forum in Brussels.

According to the World Energy Council, LNG will capture a 51 percent share of the global market by 2025, from 25 percent in 2000 and 45 percent in 2018, as a result of new production line investments in the USA, Qatar and Australia.

Lower LNG prices have coincided with an upgrade at the LNG terminal on Revythoussa, an islet just off Athens, resulting in its capacity increase to 220,000 cubic meters. This has enabled bigger incoming shipments.

So far this year, LNG shipments have arrived from Qatar and the USA. More are expected.

Meanwhile, DEPA’s domestic market share for LNG supply is on a downward trajectory and currently at around 30 percent as a result of intensifying competition.

DEPA makes first ever gas sale abroad with Bulgargaz order

Greek gas utility DEPA has taken a first step towards actualizing an international trading role in the wider Balkan region, a strategy mapped out by its administration, by clinching a deal to supply a 1.5 million-MW quantity of natural gas to Bulgaraz. The development represents DEPA’s first natural gas sale abroad.

DEPA was the winning bidder of an auction staged by the Bulgarian energy company for its first ever purchase of natural gas not stemming from Russia’s Gazprom Export, the Balkan country’s standard gas supplier through a long-term supply agreement.

Besides DEPA, the Bulgaraz auction also involved Dutch company Colmar and Bulgaria’s Dexia.

The natural gas quantity ordered by Bulgaraz through its auction is scheduled to be delivered by the summer through a Greek-Bulgarian pipeline connection. Russian gas reaches Greece through this reverse-flow pipeline.

DEPA, as part of its plan to expand its gas trading activities in the wider Balkan region, is seeking Gazprom permission to sell Russian gas in Balkan markets. Gazprom has yet to offer such an approval.

IGI Poseidon licensing procedures ‘ready by summer’

The prospective IGI Poseidon gas pipeline, planned to run though Greece’s north and across the Adriatic Sea to Italy as a supply route for Russian gas to Europe, is expected to be fully licensed by the summer, energypress sources have informed.

Regarded as an investment plan of major global interest, IGI Poseidon is now at the public consultation stage after years of preliminary work.

Its developers, the Greek gas utility DEPA and Italy’s Edison, are currently staging a public consultation procedure on the project’s environmental impact study. Interested parties have until March 27 to submit their views.

The Poseidon company intends to make final investment decisions once all licensing and market test procedures have been completed.

DEPA, Edison and Gazprom have signed a memorandum of cooperation to explore the possibility of the project’s link with Turkish Stream, planned to transmit Russian gas to the Greek-Turkish border. Officials are now also looking into whether the pipeline can be connected with East Med, to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems, and the Greek-Bulgarian IGB route.

ELPE, PPC among firms eyeing DEPA Trade majority stake

The field of contenders believed to be examining a majority stake (50% plus one share) of DEPA Trade to soon be offered through a tender include Promitheas (Copelouzos, Gazprom), Motor Oil, Mytilineos and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), which revealed an interest in the natural gas market last week, while presenting group results.

The main power utility PPC another firm that has indicated it intends to enter the gas market to offset anticipated losses in the electricity market is another possibility. However, PPC’s financial standing and ability to access capital markets could prove to be an obstacle.

Promitheas has shown particular interest in DEPA’s international agreements, Motor Oil is looking closely at EPA Attiki, the gas utility DEPA’s supply firm covering the wider Athens area, while Mytilineos appears to be focused on the utility’s international trade and gas supply activity.

An energy ministry draft bill splitting DEPA into two new corporate entities, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure, ahead of the utility’s bailout-required privatization was ratified in Greek parliament late last week.

The tender offering a majority stake in DEPA Trade is expected to be launched in about one month. The privatization fund will not wait for the procedures concerning DEPA’s split to be completed before launching the DEPA Trade tender. Investors will be offered a minority stake in DEPA Infrastructure at a latter date.

 

State veto rights for DEPA Trade despite minority stake

Investors preparing for gas utility DEPA’s upcoming privatization will face ambiguous operating conditions as the Greek State, to begin by offering a majority 50.1 percent stake in DEPA Trade following an imminent company split ahead of the sale, is expected to maintain veto rights on a number of strategic matters despite its minority status in this trade venture.

Key issues to concern DEPA Trade will include the gas utility’s long-term agreements with major suppliers such as Russia’s Gazprom, Algeria’s Sonatrach and Turkey’s Botas.

DEPA’s contract with Gazprom, which runs until 2026 and is the biggest of all three, features a take-or-pay clause requiring the Greek gas utility to order no less than 1.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year or face fines.

DEPA’s supply agreements with Sonatrach and Botas both expire in 2021. The Botas agreement will not be extended as the soon-to-be-launched TAP project will provide direct supply to Greece from Azerbaijan. DEPA has already signed an agreement for one billion cubic meters of TAP-related natural gas per year.

Subsequently, the Greek State will maintain its influence over DEPA’s supply contracts with Sonatrach and Gazprom.

Investors considering the majority stake to be offered in DEPA Trade will not be entirely free.

A draft bill for DEPA’s split into DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure ahead of the privatization is scheduled to be submitted to parliament tomorrow.

A minority stake of DEPA infrastructure will be offered to investors at a latter date. The Greek State will maintain no less than 51 percent of this corporate entity.

DEPA-Cheniere LNG supply deal negotiations reach advanced stage

Gas utility DEPA and US energy exporter Cheniere have reached an advanced stage in negotiations for a long-term LNG supply agreement that could result in a five-year deal, according to sources.

A 150,000-cubic meter spot-market purchase made by DEPA from the Texas-based company towards the end of last year kindled the current negotiations for a longer-term agreement between the two sides, energypress sources informed.

The US has made clear its interest to establish Greece as a gateway for American LNG into Balkan markets. The US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, has often made reference to the prospect.

A supply agreement between DEPA and Cheniere would further diversify the Greek gas utility’s sources, currently dominated by Russian natural gas and LNG from Algeria.

DEPA has reserved a one-billion cubic meter capacity through the TAP route as of 2020, when the new gas pipeline carrying natural gas from Azerbaijan is expected to begin operating. The prospect should enable DEPA to offer domestic-market customers more competitive prices and further penetrate Balkan markets, via the IGB Greek-Bulgarian pipeline, to connect with TAP.

The ongoing DEPA-Cheniere talks have not swept Algeria’s Sonatrach out of the picture, sources stressed. DEPA’s current supply agreement with Sonatrach expires in 2020 and the two sides are already discussing a renewal.

DEPA agreements with Cheniere and Sonatrach, combined with Azerbaijani gas supply through TAP, promise to place the Greek gas utility in a more favorable position opposite Russia’s Gazprom, its main supplier.

IGI Poseidon gas pipeline prospects on PM’s Moscow visit agenda

The development prospects of an IGI Poseidon gas pipeline though Greece’s north and across the Adriatic Sea to Italy as a supply route for Russian gas to Europe, a plan opposed by the US, is expected to be on the agenda of a meeting between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for December 7 on Moscow.

The majority of license-related procedures needed by Greek gas utility DEPA and Italy’s Edison for the IGI Poseidon gas pipeline have been completed, the two European firms informed Russia’s Gazprom at a recent three-way meeting in Moscow.

The IGI Poseidon gas pipeline is envisaged to serve as an extension of Turkish Stream.

DEPA and Edison officials are confident a gas pipeline route through Greece, rather than Bulgaria, as suggested by Moscow on occasions, carries definite advantages.

The Greek-Italian pipeline is technically mature as 80 percent of studies have been completed, while license applications have been submitted to energy sector regulatory authorities and Brussels, DEPA and Edison officials informed during their Gazprom meeting.

However, as was made apparent at this three-way meeting, all sides remain concerned as to whether the European Commission will raise objections against the pipeline plan. Washington is pressuring EU member states to find alternative natural gas supply sources not involving Russia.

In Greece, US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt is taking every opportunity to express America’s opposition to any further penetration by Gazprom of Greece’s energy sector.

Greek energy minister Giorgos Stathakis recently appeared hesitant on the prospect of a new pipeline to transmit Gazprom gas.

Much will depend on the outcome of an upcoming official US visit by Greece’s Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Katrougalos between December 11 and 14. He will be joined by the energy ministry’s secretary general Mihalis Veriopoulos. DEPA and Edison will be waiting for political decisions concerning their Greek-Italian pipeline investment plan.

 

Revythoussa LNG terminal upgrade ceremony likely on November 22

Gas grid operator DESFA is considering November 22 as the official launch ceremony date for an additional third storage tank installed at its now-upgraded LNG terminal on Revythoussa, an islet just off Athens, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in attendance.

The LNG terminal’s third tank, a 98 million-euro investment offering a 95,000 cubic meter capacity, will boost the facility’s overall capacity to 225,000 cubic meters, promising to create new gas export potential to Balkan and southeast European markets, until now entirely dependent on Russia’s Gazprom.

The project, begun in 2011 and initially scheduled for completion at the end of 2015, is pivotal for the country’s energy security concerns. Gas utility DEPA has not needed to book an additional shipment to ensure energy supply in the event of a crisis this coming winter.

The Revythoussa LNG facility’s overall upgrade, budgeted at 147 million euros, also includes an LNG gasification capacity increase to 1,400 cubic meters of LNG per hour from 1,000. Annual capacity will reach 7 billion cubic meters, of which 2 billion is expected to cater to domestic needs and the other 5 million to the Balkans.

US officials recently visited the Revythoussa facility for information concerning its ability to absorb US gas shipments. DEPA and energy firm Cheniere, America’s leading natural gas exporter, are currently engaged in talks.

DEPA, Sonatrach close to 2019 LNG deal for price, quantity

LNG price, pricing formula and order quantity negotiations between Greek gas grid operator DEPA and Algeria’s Sonatrach, initiated last July by the Greek utility’s push for improved supply terms in 2019, are believed to be approaching finalization and could be completed within the next ten days.

On a visit to Algeria in the summer, DEPA chief executive Dimitris Tzortzis and his team countered Sonatrach pressure for higher prices by noting that Algerian LNG needs to remain competitively priced as international gas market conditions are changing. The DEPA team reminded of the planned 2020 launch of the TAP project as a new pipeline route to bring Azerbaijani gas into the Greek market.

Sonatrach currently supplies DEPA between 0.55 and one billion cubic meters of gas, annually, based on a contract that expires in 2021. Russia’s Gazprom supplies DEPA 2.2 billion cubic meters annually based on a contract expiring in 2026. A DEPA agreement with Turkey’s Botas for an annual gas amount of 0.75 billion cubic meters expires in 2021.

Greece’s energy sufficiency this coming winter will be ensured by an additional third tank at gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal at Revythoussa, an islet just off Athens, DEPA officials have informed. The third tank, a 98 million-euro investment offering a 95,000 cubic meter capacity, has boosted the facility’s overall capacity to 225,000 cubic meters and also created new gas export potential into Balkan markets. Until now, Russia has fully covered the Balkan gas market.

 

 

DESFA, Snam also considering Greek-Italian pipeline crossing

Greek gas grid operator DESFA and Italy’s Snam, heading an all-European gas operator consortium set to acquire a 66 percent stake of the former, are conducting preliminary research to determine whether an interconnection project linking the Greek and Italian grids would represent a viable plan.

Russia’s Gazprom is seeking to establish a Greek-Italian route for Russian natural gas supply to the EU. The plan being considered by DESFA and Snam essentially constitutes an extension of the Turkish Stream, a gas pipeline project being developed by Russia and Turkey.

The project considered by DESFA and Snam would utilize an existing pipeline running from Kipoi, Evros, on Greece’s northeastern tip, by the border between Greece and Turkey, to Komotini, slightly westward. In addition, a new 613-km section would be constructed from Komotini to coastal Florovouni, Thesprotia, in northwestern Greece, along with a submarine pipeline crossing to Italy.

In another preceding action, Greek gas utility DEPA and Italian energy company Edison have already taken licensing initiatives and are seeking national and EU approval for a corresponding project through their ITGI Poseidon partnership. Gazprom support would be needed.

The DEPA-Edison plan is seen as a purely commercial venture whereas the DESFA-Snam alternative is regarded as a bilateral project that would link the national gas grids of Greece and Italy.

 

DEPA infrastructure split likeliest development at utility ahead of sale

A full or partial separation of gas utility DEPA’s infrastructure from the parent company appears to be the likeliest development in the corporation’s much-discussed split as part of its privatization plan.

The corporation’s resulting corporate stature would remain unchanged if a full or partial split of its infrastructure division is pursued. This would not be so if the trade division were split as a new tax file number and new company would need to be established.

In the latter case, DEPA’s suppliers – Gazprom, Sonatrach and Botas – would need to offer their consent as their existing supply contracts with the gas Greek utlity would need to be transferred to a new company. Their consent cannot be taken for granted. Even if the trio were to agree, privatization-related time, which is running out, could be needed to overcome various objections.

DEPA’s local takeover agreement with Shell still needs to be endorsed by a local Competition Committee. DEPA has agreed to acquire Shell’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area. DEPA already holds the majority 51 percent in these ventures.

The announcement of a tender concerning the privatization of DEPA Trade, originally intended for November, now appears set for a delay and will most likely be rescheduled for within 2019, a tricky period, as next year will be an election year.

DEPA seeking long-term supply agreement with US firm Cheniere

A long-term LNG supply agreement of between 15 and 20 years has been the main focus of negotiations over the past few months between Greek gas utility DEPA and US energy company Cheniere, primarily active in LNG-related businesses.

DEPA’s recently appointed chief executive Dimitris Tzortzis is seeking a delivery arrangement that would enable the gas utility to not only import gas into Greece but also trade LNG in international markets, to the extent permitted by global market conditions.

Tzortzis mentioned DEPA’s ongoing talks with Cheniere at the Southeast Energy Forum in Thessaloniki last Friday without elaborating further.

The DEPA boss told the event that the two sides have already established a spot cargo LNG agreement for 2018.

DEPA intends to renegotiate existing agreements with gas suppliers Sonatrach, Botas and Gazprom and also assume a trading role in the natural gas market, DEPA officials have commented when asked if the Greek market has capacity for further gas amounts.

At present, DEPA is supplied an annual natural gas amount of 2.2 billion cubic meters by Gazprom. This deal expires in 2026. Sonatrach supplies between 0.55 and one billion cubic meters in a deal ending 2021, when an arrangement with Turkey’s Botas for 0.75 billion cubic meters, annually, also expires.

In 2020, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is expected to bring a further one billion cubic meters of Azeri natural gas into the Greek market.

DEPA planning pricing changes, new formula for all consumers

DEPA, the public gas corporation, is preparing to revise tariff formulas applied by the company to determine purchase prices offered to all consumer categories, including large-scale consumers, energypress sources have informed.

Until now, electricity producers have been offered special natural gas supply terms compared to household consumption, especially for heating purposes.

The gas company is believed to have completed studies that have produced results indicating leeway exists for adjustments concerning flexibility and supply security offered to customers.

It has become clear at DEPA that tariffs need to be adjusted to the energy sector’s new, liberalized and competitive environment, as shaped by institutional and regulatory changes adopted.

DEPA will seek to adopt fairer pricing formulas for all consumers, regardless of category.

The gas company has already begun negotiations with all its suppliers and is aiming to make changes over two stages. The first stage concerns the period up to 2020 or 2021 when contracts entailing gas supply by Turkey’s Botas and Algeria’s Sonatrach expire. The second stage will factor in the activation of a supply agreement for Azerbaijani natural gas via the TAP gas pipeline and Greece’s geopolitical emergence as an energy hub and role of the country’s energy exchange.

Of course, DEPA’s negotiations will also include Russian giant Gazprom, whose current supply contract for the Greek gas utility ends in 2026, and, possibly, a diversification effort by DEPA that could incorporate American LNG and spot market deals into its portfolio.

Overall, these developments changes could require DEPA to alter its gas prices offered to electricity producers, which could spark reactions from the main power utility PPC as well as independent electricity producers.

If DEPA manages to offer fair and competitive natural gas packages, then it could lay the groundwork for a leading role amid the new liberalized market.

Competition in the wholesale natural gas market is intensifying. Besides DEPA, other importers are also supplying gas to the Greek market, the main players being the Copelouzos group and the Mytilineos group.

 

 

 

 

 

DEPA seeking improved terms for Gazprom, Sonatrach supply

DEPA, the public gas corporation, is making an effort to renegotiate contracts with its two main suppliers, Russia’s Gazprom and Algeria’s Sonatrach, for improved terms, energypress sources have informed, as a result of market condition changes.

Besides supplying DEPA, Gazprom now also sells directly to other major customers in Greece, such as the Mytilineos group, a development reshaping the country’s natural gas market.

DEPA’s chief executive Dimitris Tzortzis and Gazprom Export deputy director Elena Burmistrova are believed to have discussed the subject at a meeting in St Petersburg last month. Officials of the two gas companies are expected to stage a new meeting in St Petersburg this week, sources informed.

DEPA officials will seek to improve the terms of the Greek gas utility’s existing Gazprom gas supply deal to help offset the Russian firm’s new dealings with other customers in Greece.

DEPA already appears to have ensured an exemption from a take-or-pay clause requiring payments for unconsumed amounts specified in supply contracts. DEPA is also pushing for a lower price but Gazprom officials do not appear willing to discuss such a prospect.

However, DEPA does appear to stand a chance of being granted a right to resell a proportion of gas amounts purchased from Gazprom in Balkan markets.

DEPA is also seeking to improve the terms of its supply deal with Algeria’s Sonatrach, the Greek gas utility’s second biggest source, supplying LNG.

Tzortzis, the DEPA boss, was in Algeria earlier this month for talks with Sonatrach officials on supply security concerning the Greek market in 2019, as well as supply price and pricing formula issues.

At these talks, Sonatrach officials pressured for price hikes as a result of higher international gas prices, but the DEPA boss insisted Algerian LNG needs to remain competitively priced as TAP-pipeline natural gas stemming from the Azerbaijani section of the Caspian Sea will begin entering the Greek market in 2020. A contract ensuring one billion cubic meters per year of Azerbaijani natural gas supply to the Greek market has already been signed.

As is the case with Gazprom, DEPA is also pursuing the right to resell a portion of its Sonatrach gas purchases to foreign markets.

DEPA intends to terminate a third gas supply contract held with Turkey’s Botas in 2020, a year ahead of its expiry date, as the terms of this agreement are regarded as being  unfavorable in view of the imminent supply of Azerbaijani gas to Greece via the TAP pipeline. Though talks between DEPA and Botas have not been held, an extension of their contract has already been ruled out.

Gazprom and DEPA currently hold a supply agreement for 2.6 billion cubic meters per year, until 2026. Sonatrach supplies the Greek gas utility between 0.55 and one billion cubic meters per year based on a contract expiring next year, when DEPA’s deal with Turkey’s Botas, supplying 0.75 billion cubic meters per year, also expires.

 

 

Engie imports gas from north for Heron, Gazprom not involved

France’s Engie has emerged as a new supplier of natural gas to the Greek market through the country’s northern gateway following a gas auction co-staged yesterday by DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, and its Romanian and Greek counterparts, to offer capacities available at the Romanian-Bulgarian and Bulgarian-Greek gas grid interconnections.

Engie secured a pipeline capacity at the jointly held auction to import natural gas into Greece for electricity generation by the energy firm Heron. Engie, which holds a 25 percent stake in Heron, has been active in Romania’s energy market, especially natural gas, for a number of years.

Though the amount to be imported by Engie, 1,500 MWh per day over a year, is modest, it represents yet another gas import agreement through Greece’s north that does not involve Russia’s Gazprom.

The agreement is competitively priced, compared to Gazprom’s offers, energypress sources informed.

Besides an import agreement involving DEPA, the Greek gas utility, and Gazprom, Russian gas is also imported into Greece through the northern gateway by Prometheus Gas, a joint venture of the Copelouzos Group and Gazprom Export. Prometheus Gas has captured a 20 percent share of the Greek market. The Mytilineos group also imports, buying directly from Gazprom.

The gas amount to be brought into the Greek market by Engie covers the pipeline capacity that was available at the Romanian-Bulgarian interconnection. The capacity at the Bulgarian-Greek interconnection was considerably bigger, amounting to 7,500 MWh per day over a year.

The pipeline capacity offered by the Greek, Bulgarian and Romanian gas grid operators at yesterday’s auction represented an amount that needed to be offered to third parties, according to EU regulations. The auction represented the first ever act of collective trans-boundary trade involving the three countries.

The EU has applied pressure on member states to utilize interconnections and diversify their sources of supply.

 

 

ITGI Poseidon seeks license for Turkish Stream Greek segment

ITGI Poseidon, a partnership established by DEPA, the Greek gas utility, and Italy’s Edison, is moving to develop Turkish Stream’s Greek segment – from a point at the Greek-Turkish borders running across the country’s north for an Adriatic Sea crossing to Italy – as long as Russia’a Gazprom chooses to support this plan as an additional supply route to Europe.

The big question at this stage is whether Gazprom will choose Greek or Bulgarian territory for the continuation of Turkish Stream, whose initial segment is planned to supply the Turkish market.

Roughly one month ago, certain international media outlets reported that Gazprom has chosen Bulgaria as its favored route for the pipeline’s extension beyond Turkey. However, a leading Gazprom official, Elena Burmistrova, chief executive at Gazprom Export, quickly denied these reports, noting that all options are still being examined, including ITGI Poseidon’s extension of Turkish Stream through Greece.

Like the TAP project, Turkish Stream’s extension would be developed as an independent natural gas system without any links to the national grid at any point.

According to sources, ITGI Poseidon has already submitted an application to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for a project license as an independent system. Then, as its next step, ITGI Poseidon plans to stage a market test. Gazpom would need to reserve a capacity that makes the pipeline sustainable if the project’s development is to progress.

Three years ago, Turkish Stream’s Greek extension represented a key part of the newly elected leftist Syriza party’s effort to establish closer energy ties with Russia and defy EU obligations. It has since become clear that the project can only be developed within the framework of EU regulations set for independent natural gas systems and terms included in the EU’s third energy package.

At the other end, Russia, too, will seek guarantees from Brussels before reaching any Turkish Stream extension decisions.

Just over a year ago, Gazprom, Edison and DEPA signed an agreement to develop the Southern Corridor at a ceremony attended by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

 

 

Country’s big energy players gearing up for DEPA sale

The past couple of days could be regarded as an unofficial launch of DEPA’s (public gas corporation) privatization, given the strong interest expressed by major players for the gas utility’s commercial division.

Two of the country’s biggest energy market players, the Mytilineos corporate group and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), which holds a 35 percent stake of DEPA, made clear their interest in the gas utility’s commercial section yesterday, just hours after energy minister Giorgos Stathakis updated energypress on the DEPA privatization model to be adopted.

The government and country’s lenders have agreed on a DEPA sale model entailing a split of the gas utility into two subsidiaries representing its commercial and distribution network divisions. This split is expected in September.

Motor Oil Hellas is also expected to emerge as a candidate, highlighting how coveted the DEPA privatization is for energy players.

Motor Oil Hellas recently announced a plan to enter the retail natural gas market through its Coral network of gas stations.

The petroleum firm has filed a complaint to the competition committee over DEPA’s close-to-finalized effort to acquire Shell’s 49 percent of their EPA Attiki joint venture covering supply in the wider Athens area. DEPA already holds a 51 percent stake and would fully own EPA Attiki if the deal with Shell is finalized.

The Motor Oil Hellas complaint could turn into legal action as DEPA, already controlling the country’s biggest wholesale gas agreements, would also gain major control in the capital’s retail market and affect competition.

This issue is certainly not one of minor importance and could end up delaying the overall plan for the retail gas market’s restructuring as well as DEPA’s privatization.

Greece’s wholesale gas market is also changing. Until recently, DEPA controlled this market as the dominant importer of natural gas. DEPA held a 96 percent of the wholesale gas market in 2016.

Things began to change in 2017 when Prometheus Gas, a joint venture formed by the Copelouzos group and Gazpromexport, imported a total of one billion cubic meters, capturing a 20 percent share of the market. M&M Gas, a joint venture involving Motor Oil Hellas and Mytilineos, also imported gas amounts in 2017, through the Greek-Bulgarian interconnection.

Mytilineos is already very active in the wholesale natural gas market as an LNG importer. It plans to import a first Qatar Gas shipment next month. Mytilineos has also established a direct trading partnership with Gazprom and is believed to be negotiating a deal with another major player.

 

Major battle seen for liberalized gas market in 2018

The natural gas retail market’s liberalization, a new reality in Greece that has arrived along with the New Year as a follow-up to the wholesale gas market’s opening, promises to lead to major changes.

Combined electricity-and-gas packages are already being offered by retailers in a local energy market whose natural gas sales have grown from 2.9 billion cubic metres in 2015 to 5 billion cubic meters in 2017.

The natural gas market is expected to gain further impetus as a result of the electricity market’s liberalization. Numerous gas market retailers, besides EPA Attiki, covering wider Athens, and Zenith, covering Thessaloniki and Thessaly, are examining the prospect of offering combined electricity-and-gas packages.

The main power utility PPC has hired a consultant to help prepare its entry into the natural gas market, while major independent electricity suppliers have already launched campaigns for gas supply. Also, DEPA, the public gas corporation, is considering entering the electricity market, either alone or along with a partner.

As of 2018, independent gas suppliers will seek to further bolster their presence in a market traditionally dominated by DEPA.

The degree of DEPA’s future retail presence in the EPA supply companies serving wider Athens, Thessaloniki and Thessaly, to be determined by ongoing negotiations between the shareholders involved in these ventures, remains to be seen.

The government appears to favor DEPA’s withdrawal from EPA Thessaly-Thessaloniki and continued presence in EPA Attiki. DEPA currently holds 51 percent stakes in these ventures. Shell holds a 49 percent stake in EPA Attiki and ENI a 49 percent stake in EPA Thessaly-Thessaloniki. Shell appears to want to withdraw.

EPA Attiki and Zenith, covering Thessaloniki and Thessaly, have both expressed an interest to broaden their geographic reach.

According to data released for 2015, the retail natural gas market in wider Athens, Thessaly and Thessaloniki exceeded 293 million euros. EPA Thessaly-Thessaloniki posted a pretax profit of 45 million euros and EPA Attiki a pretax profit of 30.1 million euros, according to this data.

As for Greece’s wholesale natural gas market, DEPA, until recently, has stood as the undisputed dominant player owing to its overwhelming control of imports. In 2016, DEPA’s natural gas imports reached 42.7 million MWh, from 44.5 million MWh in total, a 96 percent share.

However, this picture began changing in 2017, beginning with Prometheus Gas, a joint venture of the Copelouzos Group and Gazprom Export, whose imports for the year reached one billion cubic meters, or 20 percent of the 5 billion cubic meter total. These amounts were imported from the gas pipeline at Sidirokastro, via Bulgaria.

According to sources, Prometheus Gas has already signed contracts for a greater amount in 2018. Clients include PPC, which has placed orders for its natural gas-fueled power plants.

M&M, a joint venture involving Motor Oil Hellas and the Mytilineos Group, has also made imports.

In recent comments to Reuters, Evangelos Mytilineos, chief executive of the Mytilineos Group, noted that the corporate group ranks as the country’s biggest natural gas consumer with a level of 1.5 billion cubic meters, adding that M&M Gas could soon start trading annual amounts of natural gas measuring around one billion cubic meters.

Despite the emergence of new players in Greece’s wholesale gas market, DEPA managed to increase its volume-based sales increase of 9 percent for 2017’s nine-month period, while its operating profit (EBITDA) rose by 32 percent to 223 million euros.

 

PPC, expanding sources, places first Prometheus Gas order

The main power utility PPC has taken a major step towards expanding its natural gas supply sources by placing its first order with Prometheus Gas, a Gazprom-Copelouzos group joint venture, for a total amount of 839,500 MWhth in 2018. Until now, PPC has relied on DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, for its gas needs.

PPC’s move follows a number of Prometheus Gas orders made this year by independent electricity producers and industrial enterprises.

The power utility’s order, based on a board decision made just days ago, will partially cover PPC’s gas needs in 2018 for electricity generation at its gas-fueled facilities.

Prometheus Gas is expected to end the current year with sales of close to one billion cubic meters, an amount representing 20 percent of the Greek market’s total gas demand, based on current figures.

According to sources, Prometheus Gas has already signed deals for natural gas supply totaling over one billion cubic meters in 2018. Most of these orders have been placed by electricity producers, industrial consumers, as well as suppliers, now operating in a reformed retail gas market.

The shape of Greece’s natural gas market in the year to come has yet to be finalized. The Mytilineos Group, the country’s biggest natural gas consumer with annual needs totaling 1.5 billion cubic meters, has yet to unveil its plans.

In recent comments to Reuters, Evangelos Mytilineos, chief executive of the Mytilineos Group, suggested the corporate group could soon begin trading amounts of around one billion cubic meters a year through M&M Gas, a wholesale trading joint venture involving the Mytilineos Group and Motor Oil Hellas.

Natural gas sales in the Greek market, currently dominated by three key players, have skyrocketed in recent times. Sales are expected to total 5 billion cubic meters in 2017, nearly double the sales figure of registered 2.9 billion cubic meters in 2015. worth slightly below one billion euros.

Despite the emergence of new players, DEPA, the gas utility, has managed to increase its sales by 9 percent in terms of volume and 32 percent in terms of operating profit. The utility’s EBITDA figure is estimated at 223 million euros.

The market data clearly shows that all players, including DEPA, have benefited from the overall rise in demand for natural gas. This trend may be repeated in 2018, a year during which PPC’s Megalopoli V power plant is expected to enter the system, which will further increase local natural gas demand.

 

 

Prometheus Gas captures 20% of changing Greek market

Prometheus Gas, a joint venture involving the Copelouzos Group and Gazprom, has captured a 20 percent share of the Greek gas market, according to energypress sources.

This development highlights the fact that 2017 has been a year of major changes for the sector as significant natural gas amounts imported and distributed in Greece no longer involve DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation.

Prometheus Gas is expected to end the current year with volume-based sales of close to one billion cubic meters, one fifth of total demand in the Greek market.

The bulk of these sales were made to electricity producers and industrial consumers, while some amounts were also bought by suppliers who purchased gas amounts imported by Prometheus Gas through the Sidirokastro entry point in Greece’s north.

Gas pipeline imports, as well as exports, have also been made by other companies this year but Prometheus Gas remains the dominant trader, not including DEPA, the gas utility.

The new year promises further changes as households will be free to choose gas suppliers as of January 1.

A trading system change at Sidirokastro, the Greek-Bulgarian interconnection through which the majority of gas amounts enter the Greek market, has been a key factor behind the market changes.

Until recently, transactions at this point, pivotal for both the Greek and regional markets, were dominated by long-term contracts. The arrival of open auctions, in line with EU law, has enabled independent gas suppliers to buy and sell considerable natural gas amounts at competitive prices.

Implementation of the EU law for an interconnection agreement between the Greek and Turkish grid operators at the country’s Kipi entry point on the Turkish border would provide further impetus for market changes and bolster the country’s diversification of sources.

DEPA, Gazprom, Edison agree on Russian supply to Europe

The head officials of Gazprom, Edison and DEPA, Greece’s public gas corporation, today signeda cooperation agreement envisaging joint efforts aimed at establishing a southern route for Russian gas supplies from Russia to Europe, the three companies announced in a statement.

The document was signed by Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Management Committee of Gazprom, Marc Benayoun, CEO of Edisonand Executive Vice President of EDF forGas and Italy,and Theodoros Kitsakos, CEO of DEPAand Chairman of IGI Poseidon, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2017 in the presence ofCarlo Calenda, Minister of Economic Development of Italy.

George Tsipras, Secretary General for International Economic Relations at Greece’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs also attended the signing ceremony.

The document envisages joint efforts aimed at establishing a southern route for Russian gas supplies from Russia to Europe, which will run across Turkey and Greece to Italy. The three companies will coordinatethe development andimplementation of the TurkStream projectandof thePoseidon projectfrom the Turkish/Greek border to Italy, in full compliance withrelevantapplicablelegislative framework.In addition, the agreement formalizes the arrangements on expanding cooperation in the field of Russian gas deliveries.

In February, 2016, Gazprom, Edison, and DEPA had signed the Memorandum of Understanding on natural gas deliveries from Russia across the Black Sea and third countries to Greece and from Greece to Italy in order to set up a southern route for Russian gas supplies to Europe.

DEPA, possessing a long presence in Greece’s gas market, constitutes a modern and competitive group of companies with a dynamic presence in the energy sector. It promotes strategic infrastructure in order to supply natural gas at competitive prices from diversified sources and routes with a view to assuming a leading role in the markets of the broader southeast European region.

Edison is a leading Italian and European player in the procurement, production and sale of electricity, provision of energy and environmental services and the E&P sector.

Founded over 130 years ago, Edison has contributed to the country’s electrification and development. Today it operates in Italy, across Europe and in the Mediterranean basin, employing 5,000 people. In the power generation sector, Edison has plants with total capacity of 6.5 GW.

The Poseidon pipeline is an import gas project designed and authorized to connect the Greek and Italian gas systems. The project will be further extended for allowing direct transportation into Italy of gas sources available at the Turkish/Greek borders, substantially contributing to the European energy targets on security of supply.

Gazprom, Edison, DEPA discuss Southern Corridor gas pipeline plan

Technical matters concerning Russia’s Southern Corridor pipeline project proposal for transmission of natural gas to Europe were discussed at a meeting in Moscow yesterday between the heads of Gazprom, Edison and DEPA, Greece’s Public Power Corporation.

A new memorandum of understanding to provide greater details than a previous MoU signed by the three corporations in Rome last February is being prepared.

Yesterday’s meeting included talks on the optimal route for Russian gas exports to Greece and, by extension, Italy, according to a statement released by Gazprom.

The three sides took into account positions maintained by the European Commission and USA on Russian gas supply to Europe.

At this stage, the main concern of the interested parties is to avoid the mistakes committed for Russia’s previous pipeline proposal, South Stream, which deviated from European Commission regulations.

The sidelined Greek-Italian ITGI Poseidon project, initially planned to carry Azerbaijani natural gas, is expected to be developed and play a key role in the Southern Corridor plan by providing a pipeline link across the Adriatic Sea for the transfer of Russian gas from Greece to Italy. This issue was also on the agenda of yesterday’s talks.

Russian gas exports to Italy rose by 36.5 percent in November compared to the equivalent period last year. Italy is the second-biggest importer of Russian natural gas.

As for a Turkish segment planned to comprise part of the Southern Corridor project, Gazprom signed an agreement, just days ago in Amsterdam, with the Allseas Group, a Swiss-based offshore pipeline installation and subsea construction company for the project’s underwater segment in the east. This section of the pipeline is planned to run from a point close to the Russian city Anapa, on the northern coast of the Black Sea, across the sea, all the way to eastern Thrace, Turkey’s European territory.

 

Gazprom a prime European gas factor, including for DESFA sale

It has become clear that virtually no gas transmission developments in Europe, including the collapsed effort to privatize Greece’s natural gas grid operator DESFA, can be assessed without factoring in the role of Russian energy giant Gazprom.

All companies linked to the DESFA sale ordeal – the candidate buyers Azerbaijan’s Socar and Italy’s Snam, as well as Belgium’s Fluxys, an early candidate whose interest waned before apparently rebounding more recently – are associated with the Southern Corridor, Gazprom’s natural gas supply plan for the European market’s south.

Gazprom is promoting the prospects of “Turkish Stream” and making plans for an additional route, via Greece, for natural gas supply to the EU. The Russian company is making careful and decisive moves to establish agreements for the first route through Turkey and is also engaged in talks with the European Commission for the route’s extension through Greece.

The significance of today’s three-way meeting in Moscow between Gazprom, Edison and DEPA, Greece’s Public Gas Corporation, for talks on the pipeline route through Greece, not long after the DESFA sale’s collapse, cannot be overlooked.

The three sides had signed a Memorandum of Understaning in Rome last Ferbruary and could now sign a more specific agreement featuring greater commitments for the Southern Corridor plan. This project would carry Russian natural gas through the Black Sea, Greece and Italy and would utilize work already carried out by DEPA and Edison as part of the sidelined ITGI Poseidon project.

DEPA and Edison had originally established Poseidon as a joint venture in the previous decade to develop the ITGI pipeline, planned to carry Azeri natural gas from Turkey to Greece and then Italy, via a submarine crossing through the Adriatic Sea. However, the the plan was abandoned after Azerbaijan opted to develop the TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline) project instead for this purpose.

Following the recent collapse of the DESFA sale, Socar rushed to announce that the development would not affect its involvement in the TAP project. The Azeri firm holds a 20 percent stake in the TAP consortium. Socar has not ruled out the possibility of expressing renewed interest in DESFA once a new sale attempt is launched.

Ties between Gazprom and Socar are highly complicated. On the one hand, they are the prime players in rival gas pipeline plans, while, on the other, the two are linked by high-level associations concerning Russian government officials and Socar’s president as well as exchange. Gazprom, for exchaneg, supplies gas to Socar with the aim of bolstering the latter’s cash reserves to avoid technical problems that interrupt Russian gas flow.

Gazprom, Edison, DEPA press on for Southern Corridor plan

After signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Rome last February with the aim of developing the Southern Corridor for Russian natural gas supply to Europe, Russia’s Gazprom, Italy’s Edison and DEPA, Greece’s Public Gas Corporation, are now set to take an additional step in this direction.

Leading officials of the three energy companies are scheduled to meet in Moscow next Tuesday to discuss the overall progress made over the past ten-month period and also sign a new agreement containing even greater commitments than last February’s less specific MoU.

Issues expected to be discussed at the upcoming Moscow meeting include the Southern Corridor’s route, dispatch points for Russian gas within European territory, as well as various alternatives available for infrastructure that needs to be constructed.

Of course, the build-up to next Tuesday’s meeting does not mean that European Commission and US doubts about the Southern Corridor have faded. Both are looking to diversify Europe’s energy sources and lessen Russia’s dominance. Instead, the meeting indicates the determination of Gazprom, Edison and DEPA to coordinate their efforts and assess the project’s obstacles, exacerbated by the bad precedent set by South Stream, a previous Russian gas pipeline plan that ended up sinking as a result of the EU’s negative response.

Gazprom’s CEO Alexey Miller, in recent comments, noted: “We will decide – at the Moscow meeting – on how we will go about working on the project. It concerns the transportation of natural gas via Turkey and the Greek-Turkish border as well as construction of new pipelines on European territory, all the way to southern Italy.”

 

DEPA planning action against rivals for Gazprom take-or-pay costs

DEPA, Greece’s Public Gas Corporation, intends to take action, including legal, to avoid shouldering the entire resulting cost of a take-or-pay clause in its supply agreement signed with Gazprom. Besides the Greek state-controlled corporation, the Russian gas giant has now also begun supplying other customers in the local market.

Subdued gas demand in Greece amid the long recession has activated the Gazprom supply agreement’s take-or-pay clause, requiring payments for unconsumed amounts.

“We’re not saying ‘no’ to the natural gas market’s liberalization, but DEPA can’t be left alone to cover this expense,” a corporation official contended, adding that the take-or-pay clause was included in DEPA’s agreements with Gazprom to ensure gas supply security for the entire Greek market and that its cost should be shared by all local traders.

Gazprom, operating through Prometheus Gas, its joint venture established with the Copelouzos corporate group, began direct gas supply to local firms  a couple of months ago. Recipients include Heron, a member of the GEK Terna group, Engie, QPI and Elpedison (ELPE, Edison, Eltex), while other industrial enterprises are also involved in negotiations with Prometheus Gas.

The natural gas is being supplied at a price level equal to that of the starting price offered at DEPA gas auctions.

Gazprom’s decision to break a long-running unofficial agreement for exclusive gas supply to DEPA comes at a time when the Russian side is heavily promoting its Southern Corridor pipeline plan to cover southeast Europe, either as an extension of Turkish Stream or as the South Stream project.

Another gas supplier, M&M Gas, a venture involving the Mytilineos Group and Motor Oil Hellas, has also begun supplying modest natural gas amounts to local customers, primarily industrial enterprises, who have stopped ordering from DEPA and its regional EPA supply subsidiaries.

Addition of Turkey’s Botas to Southern Corridor plan implied

Though not specifically named during yesterday’s Greek-Russian energy conference in Athens, Botas, Turkey’s state-run crude oil and gas company, may join Russia’s Gazprom, DEPA, the Greek Public Gas Corporation, and Italian energy firm Edison as a fourth partner in the Southern Corridor project, an extension of the Turkish Steam plan, to supply Russian natural gas to the wider region.

Other European countries are likely to also express an interest in the project, which would increase the chances of Brussels approving the plan.

DEPA chief executive Theodoros Kitsakos reminded conference participants that a three-party memorandum of understanding (MoU), involving Gazprom, DEPA and Edison, was signed last February. He noted that all studies, including cost studies, have been carried out, while also adding that a “fourth partner is likely to join in” as the Russian gas supply line will probably run through Turkey.

Kitsakos described the project’s plan as fully sustainable and respectful of EU principles. “We hope development begins in 2017 and that the project is completed between 2019 and 2020,” he remarked.

Energy minister Panos Skourletis noted that talks recently resumed on this prospective Russian gas supply channel to Europe, via Greece and Italy. “We believe the plan may serve the EU’s strategic objective of reinforcing energy security and offering competitive pricing,” Skourletis commented. “We consider the Russian government’s stance of wanting to promote the project only when EU regulations have been met, in order for it to proceed without interruption, as a very constructive approach,” he added.

The energy minister said the trio of partners, as a follow-up to February’s MoU, are now looking at solutions concerning source diversification and routes. “This discussion is expected to widen and involve other countries so that the project may represent part of the overall picture concerning European energy supply in the future,” Skourletis noted. “Forecasts indicate that energy needs will increase in Europe. Now is the time to shape the new plans that will effectively meet these future needs.”