RAE given 5 months to set Kavala underground gas storage charges

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has been given five months to determine the pricing policy, regulated earnings and WACC for a planned underground gas storage facility at a depleted offshore gas field in the south Kavala region, according to an imminent joint ministerial decision, energypress understands.

The launch date of the project’s tender will depend on funding for project studies through the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program. This essentially means that the privatization fund TAIPED will need to officially launch the project within the first half of this year to avoid missing out on CEF funds.

The project’s investment cost is estimated at between 300 and 400 million euros.

France’s Engie as well as Energean Oil & Gas and GEK-Terna have formed a three-member consortium named Storengy in anticipation of the tender. DESFA, the gas grid operator, is also expected to participate in the tender.

The project, promising gas storage capacity of 360 million cubic meters, is considered vital for Greece as it will be able to maintain strategic reserves for considerable time periods.

Its development will help boost the performance level and strategic role of the Revythoussa LNG terminal just off Athens, and the prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU in the country’s northeast, as these will be able to supply the wider region greater gas quantities via the IGB and TAP gas pipelines.

The south Kavala project has been classified as a PCI project, offering EU funding opportunities, seen as crucial for the investment’s sustainability, according to some analysts.

Improved Gazprom deal raises DEPA in the eyes of investors

Lower-price deals sealed or about to be sealed between gas utility DEPA and its international suppliers are among the factors the government is relying on for a successful privatization procedure of the gas utility, a procedure launched yesterday, beginning with DEPA Trade, one of DEPA’s two new entities formed for the sale.

DEPA is believed to have renegotiated a far more favorable supply deal with Russia’s Gazprom, the Greek utility’s biggest supplier.

Forty percent of DEPA’s natural gas orders from Gazprom will no longer be pegged to fluctuating international oil prices. Instead, this percentage of DEPA’s Gazprom orders will be linked to price levels of Dutch gas trading platform TTF, one of Europe’s biggest hubs. Just days ago, prices at TTF were about half those of pipeline gas. The other 60 percent of DEPA’s orders with Gazprom will remain oil indexed.

This development promises to make DEPA’s supply deals with Gazprom far more competitive. Prospective bidders already appear to be warming to the prospect.

Major Greek corporate groups such as Mytilineos, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) – already holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA and considering teaming up with its Elpedison partner Edison for the DEPA sale – GEK Terna and Motor Oil are believed to be gearing up for bids. The Copelouzos group’s involvement in the DEPA Trade sale is considered certain – in a partnership with Czech entrepreneur Karel Komarek, holding a key stake in Greek lottery OPAP.

Kavala underground gas storage tender in first half of 2020, TAIPED announces

A tender for the conversion of a depleted natural gas field in the offshore South Kavala region into an underground gas storage facility will be announced in the first half of 2020, according to privatization fund TAIPED.

The project, estimated to cost between 300 and 400 million euros, is needed for storage of strategic gas reserves.

Steps that will need to be taken in the lead-up to the tender have just been presented by the privatization fund’s administration, confirming that previous legal complexities have now been resolved.

Two steps are needed. A joint ministerial decision must be issued. Also, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, needs to prepare a regulatory framework offering prospective investors a reliable estimate on earnings they should anticipate, necessary before any binding bids can be submitted.

France’s Engie as well as Energean Oil & Gas and GEK-Terna have formed a three-member consortium named Storengy in anticipation of the tender. DESFA, the gas grid operator, is also expected to participate in the tender.

Ministry amendment to unblock Kavala storage legal complexity

The energy ministry has prepared a legislative amendment needed to overcome a legal complexity that has emerged concerning the development of an underground gas storage facility in the offshore South Kavala region through the utilization of a depleted natural gas field.

The amendment, which could be submitted to parliament today, will not lead to any fundamental changes concerning the project but purely focuses on resolving the legal obstacles obstructing its development, sources informed.

Once ratified, this amendment will pave the way for the publication of a related joint ministerial decision in the government gazette ahead of the asset’s eventual privatization.

Meanwhile, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, needs to prepare general guidelines determining the project’s pricing policy, regulated earnings, WACC level, as well as a minimum capacity level that will need to be kept vacant by the project’s investor for national energy security reasons.

RAE will have three months to prepare the guidelines once the joint ministerial decision has been published in the government gazette.

TAIPED, the privatization fund, has received an amount worth 1.6 million euros from the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to finance engineering studies required for the underground gas storage facility ahead of the privatization tender. This financial development was included in a updated Asset Development Plan (ADP) presented by TAIPED a fortnight ago. The investment’s cost is estimated between 300 and 400 million euros.

France’s Engie, Energean Oil & Gas and GEK-Terna have formed a three-member consortium named Storengy in anticipation of the tender. DESFA, the gas grid operator, is also expected to participate in the tender.

Legal details delay ministerial decision for gas storage facility

A joint ministerial decision concerning the operating regulatory framework for a prospective underground gas storage facility in the offshore South Kavala region has been held back by a latest administrative obstacle.

The decision, prepared by the energy ministry, has been put on hold until legal details are resolved, sources noted.

Despite the emergence of this latest hurdle, the ministry will soon be in a position to clear it, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis announced yesterday.

Meanwhile, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has begun preparing general guidelines to determine pricing policy, adjustable earnings, minimum WACC levels, as well as compulsory vacancy levels that will need to be maintained by the project’s developer as support for national energy security.

Once the joint ministerial decision has been published, RAE will have three months to complete the  framework so that bidders will have its details when the time comes to submit binding offers.

TAIPED, the privatization fund, plans to stage a tender offering the underground gas storage facility within the first six months of 2020.

To be developed at a depleted natural gas field, the underground gas storage facility will offer a storage capacity of at least 360 million cubic meters.

The investment’s cost is estimated between 300 and 400 million euros. France’s Engie, Energean Oil & Gas and GEK-Terna have formed a three-member consortium named Storengy in anticipation of the tender.

DESFA, the gas grid operator, is also expected to participate in the tender.

A total of 642 underground gas storage facilities offering an overall capacity of 333 bcm, approximately 11 percent of global gas consumption, operate around the world. In the EU, 126 such facilities offer a total gas storage capacity of about 80 bcm.

ENI’s FSRU proposal latest Crete energy sufficiency idea

Italian energy giant ENI has come up with the latest proposal for a role in resolving Crete’s energy shortage threat, ascertaining it is ready to provide an FSRU unit for LNG storage and gasification that could be moored off the island.

High-polluting diesel generators operating on Crete, Greece’s biggest island, must cease operating by the end of this year, according to European Commission requirements.

The ENI proposal could cover the energy supply needs of power utility PPC diesel-fueled generators planned for conversion to natural gas, as well as a 100-MW gas-fired facility.

Prior to this interest from ENI, energy firms forwarded a series of proposals, all different, to counter the Cretan matter.

GEK Terna was the first to emerge with a recommendation entailing the transfer to Crete of Heron I, a power plant in the Viotia prefecture, northwest of Athens, offering a 150-MW capacity. Qatar’s Powerglobe followed with its Power4Crete proposal, an FSRU for electricity generation. Greek power utility PPC proposed an upgrade of its facilities on the island.

Also, Greek gas grid operator DESFA has included the establishment of a gas terminal at Atherinolakkos, southeastern Crete, into its development program.

Local players dividing interest for DEPA trade, network units

The country’s major energy sector players are more or less split in their investment interest for DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure, the two new entities to emerge from gas utility DEPA’s privatization plan, but the overall interest for DEPA Trade appears to be more substantial.

The Mytilineos group, Motor Oil and the Copelouzos group have already expressed interest in DEPA Trade and will probably submit bids once the  tender is staged. Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA, is also expected to express interest in DEPA Trade.

The emergence of foreign bidders cannot be ruled out as Greece’s natural gas market is gaining prominence as a hub for the wider region in southeast Europe.

As for the gas utility’s networks, Italy’s Eni, maintaining interests in the trade and distribution markets of Thessaloniki and the Thessaly region, is reported to be interested in DEPA Infrastructure. GEK Terna is also believed to be seriously considering this entity’s gas distribution prospects.

Besides the level of bids, the energy ministry will also take into account the respective business plans to be submitted by investors to the DEPA Infrastructure tender, the objective being to secure further network expansion covering new regions.

Details and procedures concerning the DEPA privatization plan have been included in a draft bill to soon be delivered to Greek Parliament. In the lead-up, the plan will be presented for public consultation, possibly beginning today.

Unlike the previous government’s plan, the Greek State’s entire 65 percent stake in DEPA will be offered through the two new entities.

The DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure tenders are expected to be staged concurrently.

 

 

Major Greek energy companies represented for PM’s China trip

The country’s energy sector is well represented in a business delegation accompanying Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ current official visit to China.

Greek energy corporations primarily active in electricity, renewable energy and energy project construction are represented by highly ranked officials.

Power utility PPC, represented by chief executive Giorgos Stassis; and top officials from Mytilineos group, the Copelouzos group, GEK Terna and the Panagakos group have joined the Greek Prime Minister for the China trip.

A significant energy-sector agreement has already been established by the two countries. In 2017, SGCC, the State Grid Corporation of China, acquired a 24 percent stake of power grid operator IPTO, one of the biggest Chinese investments in Greece to date.

In addition, a number of Chinese companies, including China Energy and the Sumec group, have signed Memorandums of Cooperation with Greek enterprises such as the Copelouzos group and PPC.

In the renewable energy market, Chinese-controlled EDP Renoveis has been awarded capacity, through competitive procedures, to develop RES projects.

SGCC has indicated it could be interested in an upcoming Greek electricity market privatization to offer a stake in distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

Ministry closing in on Kavala underground gas storage model

The energy ministry is close to deciding on a business model for a prospective underground gas storage facility in the offshore South Kavala region, the objective being to ensure the investment’s sustainability without overburdening consumers.

Numerous alternatives have been examined so far but a model applied in France and Italy appears to be the most favored, energypress sources informed.

The content of an upcoming joint ministerial decision is now at a mature stage following efforts that have now lasted nearly two years, energy ministry officials noted.

The ministerial decision will determine the licensing, development and exploitation terms for the project, 30km south of Kavala, where a depleted natural gas field is planned to be converted into an underground gas storage facility.

Swift progress is needed as Greece will need to request EU financing for the project, on the PCI list, in 2020. If the request is delayed until 2021 then the available funds could be severely diminished and absorbed by other European PCI-status projects.

The underground gas storage facility is vital for Greece’s electricity grid given the anticipated increase of gas consumption to be prompted by the planned development of combined cycle power plants. Five market players, Mytilineos, Elpedison, GEK TERNA, Elval Halkor and Karatzis, have expressed interest to develop such units.

Privatization fund TAIPED will take over proceedings for a tender once the project’s business model has been decided. The investment is expected to reach between 300 and 400 million euros. Its storage capacity is estimated at between 360 and 720 cubic meters.

Greece is the only EU member without an underground gas storage facility. All other member states maintain facilities covering at least 20 percent of their annual gas consumption needs. Many more similar facilities are currently being planned around Europe.

Independent energy players rushing to fill PPC lignite void

The country’s major independent energy groups are forging ahead with well anticipated plans to cover prospective electricity generating voids that will be created by power utility PPC’s withdrawal of lignite-fired units, now expected sooner following a government plan for a swifter withdrawal of all lignite-fired power stations, monopolized by the state-controlled power utility.

Speaking at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last week, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared full decarbonization would be achieved in Greece by 2028.

The Prime Minister’s pledge for a lignite-free Greece in less than a decade has not taken domestic independent energy groups by surprise. As early as three to four years ago, they had foreseen an approaching end of the lignite era in Greece and around Europe.

So, too, had PPC’s leadership. But the corporation’s lignite monopoly, lignite dependence of local economies in lignite-rich areas, especially Greece’s west Macedonia region, as well as perpetual political interests attached to PPC over the years, have all played roles that have prevented the utility from turning to other energy sources such as natural gas and renewables.

Over the past year or so, major energy groups in Greece such as Mytilineos, GEK-TERNA, Copelouzos and Elpedison, as well as enterprises such as Elvalhalcor and Karatzis, have taken decisions to seek licenses for the development of new gas-fired power stations. The foundation stone of a Mytilineos unit in Boetia (Viotia), northwest of Athens, will be placed by the Greek Prime Minister at a ceremony scheduled for tomorrow.

A planned decarbonization process in neighboring Bulgaria, electricity needs in North Macedonia, and Greek power grid operator IPTO’s imminent upgrade of grid interconnections with Balkan neighbors, especially the aforementioned countries, are all creating further electricity export opportunities for Greek market players.

 

 

Slight delay, to early 2020, likely for Kavala gas storage tender

A tender for the utilization of a depleted natural gas field in the offshore South Kavala region as an underground gas storage facility appears headed for a slight delay and could be launched in early 2020, instead of late 2019, as a result of a deadline extension, from August 28 to September 9, granted to participants of a preceding tender looking to appoint a technical consultant for the project.

Besides the preliminary tender’s deadline extension, granted by the privatization fund TAIPED, a still-undelivered co-ministerial decision to determine the operating regulations of the storage facility is another matter that has increased the likelihood of a delay in the project’s competitive procedure. Even so, a launch by late 2019 has not been entirely ruled out.

The technical consultant will be tasked with preparing the tender’s details and offering TAIPED advice on the level of appropriateness of the plan to convert the depleted natural gas field into a gas storage facility, its equipment and interconnection needs, and other matters.

France’s Engie, Energean Oil & Gas and GEK-Terna have formed a consortium named Storengy in anticipation of the project’s tender.

 

Kavala underground gas storage tender later this year

A tender concerning the utilization of a depleted natural gas field in the offshore South Kavala region as an underground gas storage facility is expected to be launched by the privatization fund TAIPED towards the end of the year.

The privatization fund has informed the energy ministry on the progress of preparations, energypress sources informed.

A month ago, on July 12, TAIPED launched a tender seeking specialized preliminary services for the project.

The winning bidder of this initial procedure, expiring August 28, will need to prepare the technical details of the project’s eventual tender and offer consultancy to the privatization fund on the prospective underground gas storage facility’s feasibility and demands.

The recently appointed energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has made clear his intent to utilize the depleted natural gas field.

France’s Engie, GEK-Terna and Energean have formed a consortium, named Storengy, in anticipation of the project’s tender.

Greek gas grid operator DESFA is also believed to be eyeing the project, included in the EU’s list of PCI projects.

The project’s budget is estimated at between 300 and 400 million euros, while its storage capacity could end up being anywhere between 360 and 720 million cubic meters, as much as 10 percent of the country’s annual natural gas consumption.

The prospective underground gas storage facility is regarded as infrastructure that will complement – rather than compete against – the country’s existing LNG terminal on Revythoussa, an islet just off Athens, as well as a prospective FSRU in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, helping establish Greece as an energy hub.

New gas-fired units reshaping electricity generation sector

Independent electricity producers, sensing opportunities, are reshaping the sector by planning the development of new gas-fired power stations to replace the power utility PPC’s outgoing lignite-fired units. The independent producers are even replacing power stations of their own, launched about 15 years ago, as part of the overall drive.

The country’s required withdrawal of old lignite-fired power stations operated by state-controlled PPC, as well as the implementation of the target model, beginning in the summer of 2020 with a link of the Greek and Italian electricity markets, followed by a Bulgarian link as a second stage, have been cited as the two main factors bringing about this change of scene in the electricity production sector.

The independent producers GEK TERNA (Heron), Mytilineos (Protergia) and Elpedison, as well as new arrivals such as the Copelouzos and Karatzis groups, have all expressed an interest to acquire licenses for the development of new power stations.

PPC, heavily reliant on lignite-based production, is gradually losing grip of its dominance in the electricity generation sector.

Pushed higher by the EU’s environmental policy, rising CO2 emission right costs, now nearing 30 euros per ton after being worth approximately 5 euros per ton a year-and-a-half ago, are a key factor in the developments.

PPC’s CO2-related costs rose to 279.5 million euros in 2018 from 141.6 million euros a year earlier.

Elpedison enters race for new gas-fueled power station

Elpedison has submitted an application to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for an electricity production license concerning an 826-MW combined cycle gas-fueled unit in the Thessaloniki area, next to an existing company unit.

The investment plan, estimated to be worth 400 million euros and requiring about two years to complete, is the fifth application submitted by as many companies for a gas-fueled power station.

The companies still need to make final business decisions to proceed with these investment plans. The country’s grid capacity is believed to have space for one or two new gas-fueled power stations over the next few years.

Production licenses have already been granted by RAE for some of the other four applications while the processing of the others is believed to have reached an advanced stage.

The Mytilineos group has applied for a 650-MW unit at the corporation’s energy hub at the Viotia (Boeotia) area’s Agios Nikolaos location, slightly northwest of Athens. The Copelouzos group submitted an application for a 660-MW unit Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece; Gek-Terna is looking to develop a 660-MW gas-fueled power station in Komotini, in the north; and the Karatzis group, owner of the KEN electricity company, aims to develop a 665-MW in the country’s mid-north, in Larissa.

Investors interested in PPC lignite units, challenges remain

With just 19 days remaining until the May 28 deadline for binding bids in the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required disinvestment of its Megalopoli and Meliti lignite power stations, prospective bidding teams appear interested but challenges remain for the sale, relaunched after an initial attempt failed to produce a result.

The candidates are believed to be preparing decent offers based on the current SPA terms, Greek electricity market conditions and EU climate change policies.

The Czech Republic’s Sev.En Energy, joined by GEK Terna; CHN Energy-Damco Energy (Copelouzos Group); Mytilineos; and Elvalhalcor are preparing worthy offers, sources have informed.

China’s CHN Energy and Sev.En Energy have emerged as the chief partners of their respective pairings, while their Greek associates have assumed negotiating roles with PPC.

Mytilineos and Elvalhalcor are both still looking to establish an association for the disinvestment and are also pushing for further sale term improvements.

The Greek participants are particularly keen to acquire the lignite units as a means of breaking PPC’s monopoly and avoiding any new sale attempt that would also bring hydropower units into the picture and end up attracting major European players with financial might.

Greek energy firms are looking to avoid the market entry of foreign competitors as this would lead to market share contractions and a loss of their leading domestic roles.

Despite the investor interest, the sale attempt remains challenging for all sides. The Megalopoli and Meliti lignite units, according to PPC’s financial results for 2018, incurred losses of more than 360 million euros. Also, CO2 emission right costs are continuing on their upward trajectory, while Brussels’ tough stance on carbon is  stiffening.

 

PPC sale contenders embrace coal cost cut, await SPA terms

Prospective buyers considering the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale package of lignite units, relaunched after an initial effort failed to produce a result, have responded favorably to news of a lignite supply cost reduction for Meliti, one of the stations up for sale, but they remain on hold awaiting the sale’s finalized SPA terms before reaching conclusions.

PPC has secured a lignite supply cost reduction of 28 percent for its Meliti power station following an agreement with the operator of the Ahlada mine feeding the power station. The lignite supply price has come down to 16.5 euros per ton from 23 euros per ton.

“The finalization of any pending issue is positive news [for the sale], but we will take positions once we see the SPA,” one source noted.

A total of six bidding teams are participating in the sale. Beijing Guohua Power Company Limited, joined by Damco Energy; China Western Power Industrial; the Czech Republic’s Sev.En Energy – Indoverse Coal Investments Limited; GEK Terna; Elvalhalcor; and Mytilineos make up the field of contenders.

 

Reggeborgh ups GEK TERNA stake to 30% seeing potential

A move by Dutch firm Reggeborgh to increase its stake in Greek corporate group  GEK TERNA to 30 percent from 13 percent, accomplished through the purchase of a stake held by York Capital, has been attributed to the group’s successful expansion over recent years into domains carrying major potential such as  renewable energy, waste management and concession agreements.

Reggeborgh’s stake increase further internationalizes the Greek corporate group as the Dutch company maintains global investments, including in energy and construction.

VolkerWessels, one of Europe’s biggest construction firms with revenues of 5.9 billion euros in 2018 and market presences in the Netherlands, UK, Germany and North America, is a Reggeborgh subsidiary.

GEK TERNA’s opportunities, synergies and new market openings to be created by the increased equity involvement of Reggeborgh are expected to soon become apparent.

In a company statement, the Dutch firm attributed its decision to increase its GEK TERNA stake to the group’s background, course, trust in the leadership of Giorgos Peristeris, as well as the Greek economy’s prospects.

Founded in 1991, Reggeborgh is the investment vehicle of the powerful Wessels family, whose business interests grew considerably under Dik Wessels, who passed away in 2017 aged 71. Forbes ranked him as the third wealthiest person in the Netherlands with a portfolio worth 3.3 billion euros.

 

New PPC lignite sale’s field of contenders disclosed today

The field of contenders entering the non-binding first round of main power utility PPC’s renewed sale of lignite units, a bailout requirement, will be unveiled to the utility this afternoon by HSBC, managing the sale’s expressions of interest procedure.

It remains unknown if two undisclosed investors from Russia and the USA, as well as China’s CMEC will emerge as additional entries to the previous sale attempt’s list of contenders, as was recently announced by PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis.

The PPC boss has also indicated that Czech firm EPH, a participant in PPC’s initial sale effort, intends to reenter.

Expressions of interest are once again expected from Seven Energy, another Czech firm, with Gek Terna as its partner for this sale, China’s CHN Energy with the Copelouzos group, as well as Mytilineos, according to sources.

All three formations had taken part in the initial sale effort and reached a consultation stage that shaped the disinvestment’s sales and purchase agreement. Offers were submitted by Seven Energy-Gek Terna and Mytilineos.

The participation of Elvalhalcor is uncertain. This firm could move to take part in a consortium at a latter stage.

On the one hand, a wider field of prospective buyers promises to intensify bidding, while, on the other, this will increase investor demands for greater incentives as a condition for binding bids.

The PPC boss contends Meliti and Megalopoli power station units included in the sale are profitable but investors see unfavorable prospects given the EU’s decarbonization policy.

Also, an unfavorable supply agreement between PPC and the operator of the Ahlada mine feeding the utility’s Meliti unit remains unresolved. PPC wants improved terms. The existing contract, not securing price and quantity stability, was seen as a drawback by participants in PPC’s initial sale.

Furthermore, CAT remuneration eligibility for sale package units remains uncertain. The European Commission has yet to deliver news on this front.

The sale’s new evaluation procedure, seen producing a lower price, is another headache for PPC. The utility’s boss insists PPC units “will not be sold to investors seeking swift profit within a year or two.”

 

 

 

Green aggregators emerging in preparation for new market era

News of a license application submitted by the Mytilineos corporate group to represent RES producers for 500 MW is indicative of the energy aggregation trend that is expected to grow over the next few years.

Mytilineos is the Greek market’s second major player to have become active in renewable energy aggregation following the establishment last year of Optimus Energy, a venture involving Terna Energy, the country’s biggest green energy player.

Energy aggregation will enable a group of companies or local institutions to partner together to buy energy from a single developer, or multiple developers, at smaller volumes while retaining the economic advantages of a high-volume purchase.

In essence, Terna, Mytilineos, as well as other players expected to follow, are preparing for a new era in the energy sector that will enable RES production units to participate in the competitive market without support systems, subsidies or priorities.

Current RES auctions are transitional, until 2020, when the market’s new model is expected to be fully operational.

Czech offer to serve as lower limit in new PPC sale attempt

The main power utility PPC’s recently failed bailout-required sale of lignite units is headed for a relaunch rather than an extension, which will enable the entry of new candidates, as well as a market-based evaluation rather than a book value estimate of assets, as was the case with the first attempt, ongoing negotiations between the energy ministry and the European Commission are strongly indicating.

Bids submitted by participants in the initial sale attempt are expected to be taken into account for the new evaluation.

The Mytilineos group had offered 25 million euros for PPC’s Meliti unit while a Greek-Czech bidding team comprising Gek Terna and Seven Energy submitted a 103 million-euro offer for Meliti and two Megalopoli units.

However, this latter offer was rejected as it included a profit-and-loss sharing condition that had not been included in the sale’s terms. Authorities are now looking at including a profit-and-loss sharing mechanism to the new sale’s terms. Also, the amount offered by Gek Terna and Seven Energy is expected to be adopted as a lower limit.

Energy ministry officials are aiming for a finalized agreement by this Thursday’s Eurogroup meeting of eurozone finance ministers. PPC’s lignite disinvestment is a key bailout commitment that remains pending. A one-billion euro tranche for Greece depends on this sale procedure.

PPC’s chief official Manolis Panagiotakis believes that a renewed sale attempt cannot take place sooner than May, given the preparations required.

Greek officials are hoping for a sufficient time period that will enable the completion of a staff reduction demand made by prospective buyers for the sale package’s units.  Local authorities also hope PPC’s lignite units will qualify for CAT remuneration by May.

Copelouzos, Karatzis groups also planning gas-fueled units

The Copelouzos and Karatzis corporate groups are the latest energy-sector players planning to develop new natural-gas fueled power stations, following Mytilineos, already granted a production license, and Gek Terna, whose project plan had become known but was not officially announced until yesterday.

The Copelouzos group has applied to RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, for a production license concerning a 660-MW combined cycle power plant in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece. The Karatzis group, owner of the electricity supplier KEN, has submitted an application to the authority for the development of a 665-MW combined cycle facility in the mid-north Larissa area.

The Copelouzos group submitted its application to RAE in December while the Karatzis group forwarded its bid to the authority last month, energypress sources have informed.

As has been previously reported, the Mytilineos group plans to develop a 650-MW facility in the Viotia area, northwest of Athens, while Gek Terna is preparing to set up a 660-MW gas-fueled unit in Komotini, northeastern Greece.

The similar capacities envisioned for all four project plans are not coincidental. Technical experts consider power plant capacities of approximately 660 MW as ideal for optimal efficiency.

PPC lignite units sale failure highly likely, day after examined

The main power utility PPC’s ongoing effort to sell its Megalopoli and Meliti power stations as part of a bailout-required disinvestment of lignite units appears increasingly likely to fail as possible buyers are maintaining an unfavorable view of the prospects of the units on offer.

An extended deadline for binding bids is nearing and expires on February 6.

PPC has planned a series of meetings for today with the sale’s three possible buyers – CHN Energy-Copelouzos group, Seven Energy-Gek Terna and Mytilineos – to update on the progress of its voluntary exit plan offered to employees at the Megalopoli and Meliti units and transfer of 400 employees to other units.

PPC believes these changes will transform the loss-incurring units into profitable ventures but the buyers remain tentative. Their analysis of data made available paints a darker picture.

The sale’s participants have called for the implementation of a profit-and-loss sharing system for Megalopoli and Meliti. The European Commission has rejected a plan forwarded by PPC but the investors contend it was very different to a preliminary plan embraced by Brussels. The buyers also want a more drastic reduction of employees at the two plants to 480 from the previous combined total of 1,248. They are also demanding clarity on the CAT remuneration eligibility of the two plants and a clearer picture on the lignite price for supply from the Ahlada mine to the Meliti unit.

The energy ministry is believed to already be examining options based on EU regulations should the sale effort fail. If so, the ministry believes the forthcoming European Parliamentary elections, to be held May 23-26, will hold up and thrust forward the sale to a future date.

PPC asked to explore Crete energy sufficiency solutions until 2022

The main power utility PPC, in ongoing exchange with RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has reiterated its concerns of a potential energy sufficiency threat on Crete until 2022, when the anticipated launch of grid interconnections is expected to have resolved the problem.

A study conducted by RAE in conjunction with DEDDIE, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, has forecast a capacity deficit for the island in the lead-up to the island’s grid interconnections.

Responding to a RAE request calling on PPC to explore possible solutions, the power utility has asked for further clarification. The power utility wants specific figures concerning Crete’s capacity shortage threat.

The energy authority apparently wants PPC to work on proposals covering three scenarios for additional electricity generation of 50, 100 and 150 MW.

Solutions contemplated so far include a PPC tender for the installation of additional wind energy facilities as well as proposals by Gek Terna and Socar for the development of small-scale LNG-fueled power stations as back-up solutions.

However, at this stage, it remains unclear if future market conditions can secure the sustainability of such back-up LNG units once Crete’s grid interconnection projects are launched.

 

 

PPC sale deadline extension ‘pointless without better terms’

Investors considering the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale of lignite units expect new sale-term improvements beyond certain incentives already offered now that a last-minute decision was taken by authorities earlier this week to extend a January 23 binding bids deadline to February 6.

“There is no point in the deadline extension if further incentives are not offered,” a source at one of the sale’s contender firms told energypress, echoing the thoughts of all possible buyers. The PPC units on offer are not capable of generating profit figures under the sale’s existing terms, the source added.

Contenders have remained adamant on earlier views. The Czech Republic’s Seven Energy, which has teamed up with Gek Terna for this sale, insists on a 50 percent staff cut at two power stations, Megalopoli and Meliti, included in the sale package. Both plants remain loss-incurring, the candidates remind.

A team made up of China’s CHN Energy and the Copelouzos group is demanding a lignite supply cost reduction, especially for the Meliti plant.

The energy ministry is under less pressure to complete state-controlled PPC’s sale effort now that Greece’s bailout program has concluded and the country’s borrowing ability is no longer directly linked with the bailout terms.

At worst, energy ministry officials believe, the PPC sale effort will sink and the European Commission will again challenge the power utility’s dominant position in Greece’s lignite market, seen as a slow bureaucratic procedure.

PPC lignite unit contenders up pressure, new deadline possible

Three contenders considering the main power utility PPC’s sale of its Megalopoli and Meliti lignite-fired power stations included in a bailout-required disinvestment of lignite units are intensifying their pressure on PPC for more favorable terms as the deadline for binding bids approaches.

In response, PPC has been eager to present any new favorable developments that have emerged from the implementation of incentives in an effort to support the sale’s conditions and price-tag potential.

This was demonstrated yesterday by chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis in comments to journalists.  He made reference to the results of a voluntary exit plan offered to employees at the Megalopoli and Meliti units, both loss-incurring. A total of 360 employees working at the two lignite-fired power stations have accepted the offer. Prospective buyers have indicated they want the workforce at Megalopoli and Meliti, totaling 1,248 prior to the voluntary exit plan, to be cut down to 600. PPC has just announced a voluntary transfer plan for Meliti and Megalopoli unit employees to other company posts.

Panagiotakis also noted PPC is negotiating with the owners of the Ahlada lignite mine, feeding the Meliti power station, for a lower supply price and longer supply agreement.

Reacting to the PPC chief’s comments, China’s CHN and the Copelouzos group’s Damco, one of the sale’s three potential bidding teams, described the results of the staff reduction effort at the two power stations as a good basis for cost reduction.

A consortium comprising the Czech Republic’s Seven Energy and Gek Terna has refused to comment. The Seven Energy firm has yet to present itself as a certain participant in the sale. In recent times, it has made note of narrow profit margins despite the voluntary exit plan, CAT remuneration uncertainties surrounding for the two units, and increased CO2 emission right costs.

Panagiotakis, the PPC chief, yesterday told journalists the Mytilineos group remains a contender for the Megalopoli and Meliti power stations. The Mytilineos group has not responded but, according to sources, remains troubled by what it sees as an unfavorable investment conditions surrounding the lignite sector, including the sharp rise in CO2 emission right costs.

Just days remain before the sale’s January 23 deadline for binding bids expires. An extension could be required as a result of PPC’s last-minute Ahlada mine negotiations and a Brussels delay concerning the European Commission’s position on Greece’s CAT remuneration mechanism proposal, a crucial factor for the lignite units sale.

 

 

PPC pressuring ministry on Amynteo power station’s future

The main power utility PPC is maneuvering to increase the pressure on the government for action that would ensure the inclusion of the power utility’s lignite-fired Amynteo power station in the country’s energy mix over the coming years, secure its environmental upgrade and attract investors for its sustained utilization.

PPC appears to remain unconvinced of the government’s intentions to keep the Amynteo power station alive despite assurances from energy minister Giorgos Stathakis that the facility’s two units, totaling 600 MW, have been factored into the country’s electricity production calculations until 2030.

PPC is demanding a study as verification of the government’s Amynteo plan.

A 17,500-hour operating time limit imposed on the Amynteo power station by the European Commission for environmental reasons expired just over a month ago but Greek authorities have decided to sustain its operations while working on a revamp plan that would enable the unit to keep operating. Brussels is believed to be gearing up a sanctions procedure but it would typically move along at a slow pace.

The Mytilineos group, Gek Terna, Copelouzos and Intrakat have all expressed interest for involvement in an Amynteo upgrade.

The national energy and climate plan, currently undergoing public consultation, projects an installed capacity reduction of fossil fuel-fired power stations from 4.3 GW to 3.4 GW in 2020. A slight rise to 3.5 GW is foreseen for 2025 before this capacity is slashed to 2.7 GW in 2030.

Brussels set to launch action against Amynteo overtime use

The European Commission is set to launch a sanctions process against Greece in response to the country’s continued use of main power utility PPC’s lignite-fired Amynteo power station, whose 17,500-hour operating time limit, imposed for environmental reasons, expired approximately three weeks ago, on November 19.

The news of the imminent Brussels action was disclosed by a highly-ranked Directorate-General for Environment official in Athens last Friday, who added the specific department, responsible for EU policy on the environment, has not received any Greek extension request.

European Commission sanction procedures for such issues are typically lengthy and could take anywhere between a year or two to complete from the time Brussels forwards its initial complaint, the two sides exchange ensuing letters, Athens raises an anticipated objection, and Brussels issues a ruling, an official who is well-informed on the process told energypress.

Athens will aim to utilize this period and push ahead with a plan to complete an Amynteo power station upgrade that would enable the revamped unit to keep operating. The development of Ptolemaida V, a modern facility, may also be completed by then.

The Amynteo upgrade is not expected to begin until a bailout-required sale of three power stations at Megalopoli and Meliti has been completed.

The Mytilineos group, Gek Terna, Copelouzos, joined by China’s Shenhua, as well as Intrakat, have all expressed interest for involvement in the Amynteo upgrade.

 

 

Qatar team in Crete to survey units for sufficiency proposal

A team of Qatar state-run energy company officials has arrived in Crete to survey the main power utility PPC’s diesel-fueled power station in the Atherinolakos region as part of the firm’s interest to offer a solution for Crete’s looming energy sufficiency threat as of 2020, when PPC will need to have withdrawn its diesel-fired power stations operating on the island.

The survey to be conducted by Qatari energy company technical officials will also include the Atherinolakos port facilities, intended to be utilized as a key part of the plan. The firm’s proposal entails the usage of a floating power station and electricity supply unit to be anchored at the Atherinolakos port for additional electricity generation on Crete. The vessel will include an LNG storage facility as well as a gasification unit, according to the Qatar firm’s plan.

At this crucial stage, given the little time remaining before the withdrawal of PPC’s old diesel-fired power stations on Crete, it still remains unclear how the government and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will go about resolving the island’s energy sufficiency threat from 2020 onward.

As his most preferred choice, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis hopes the European Commission will offer a further operating extension for Crete’s existing power stations. If Brussels does not, then the old units will need to stop operating by December 31, 2019.

GEK Terna, Socar and Spain’s Enagas have also made proposals along the lines of the plan proposed by Qatar’s energy firm.

PPC currently operates three diesel-fueled power stations on Crete with a total capacity of 728 MW. Total electricity demand on the island is estimated at 630 MW.

A planned submarine cable link from Crete to the Peloponnese will provide a further 150 to 180 MW to the island, while a major-scale grid interconnection, to link Crete with Athens, will offer around 700 MW.

These interconnection projects have been delayed as a result of an ongoing dispute between Greek power grid operator IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector – a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli PCI-status interconnection project – for control of the Crete-Athens segment.

 

 

 

Brussels grants investors one-month extension for PPC bids

Investors have been given a one-month extension for second-round binding bids concerning the main power utility PPC’s sale of lignite units following the European Commission’s approval of a request made by China’s CHN Energy, which has joined forces with the Copelouzos group for this sale.

Subsequently, prospective buyers now face a November 17 deadline for their binding bids. The deadline extension had been widely anticipated over the past ten days or so following hints made by energy ministry officials at the recent Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.

The additional time provides energy ministry and PPC officials with an opportunity to negotiate with Brussels for the possible inclusion in the sale of a CAT remuneration system for lignite-fired electricity generation.

CHN Energy and the Copelouzos group had requested up to two months of additional time but the deadline extension was limited to one month by a  Monitoring Trustee overlooking the overall sale procedure on behalf of the European Commission.

Both the energy ministry and PPC officials fear offers by investors could remain low, higher CO2 emission right costs being a key factor. CAT remuneration would offer some incentive for bigger bids.

Initial hopes of a total sale price of around one billion euros for PPC lignite units and mines representing 40 percent of the utility’s overall lignite capacity have now deescalated to levels of several hundred million euros. Some investors have suggested offers could be considerably lower.

GEK-Terna, which has united with the Czech Republic’s Seven Energy for the PPC sale; another Czech firm, EPH; ElvalHalcor, a member of the Viohalko group; as well as Mytilineos, are the sale’s other second-round qualifiers.

CHN Energy requests deadline extension for PPC unit sale bids

China’s CHN Energy, which has joined forces with the Copelouzos group for the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale of lignite units – offered as two respective packages representing 40 percent of the utility’s overall lignite capacity in the north and south – has requested a deadline extension of one or two months for the submission of binding offers. The current deadline expires on October 17.

CHN Energy is seeking additional time for its analysis of data collected by company officials, including through the PPC sale’s virtual data room, energypress sources informed. CHN Energy officials have forwarded numerous questions concerning the units up for sale, the sources added. Company practices, including approval procedures, applied at CHN Energy are a contributing factor to the need for additional time, sources said.

The CHN Energy request is now being examined by the European Commission, supervising the PPC sale.

Other participants do not appear to have requested more time. GEK-Terna, which has united with Seven Energy for the PPC sale, Czech firm EPH, ElvalHalcor, a member of the Viohalko group, as well as Mytilineos, have all submitted first-round expressions of interest.

The prospect of other partnerships being formed by these players does not seem probable, sources noted.

PPC officials will begin a series of management interviews today with participants for clarification of financial data collected through the video data room during the summer. Despite union resistance, some candidates managed to make on-site inspections of PPC facilities included in the sale.