Positive start for Greek, Italian, Slovenian intraday coupling

The coupling of the Greek, Italian and Slovenian intraday markets took a positive first step yesterday with a successful trial. According to Greek energy exchange sources, the transition from local intraday auctions (LIDAs) to regional intraday auctions (CRIDAs) covering the three countries was successfully completed.

Two complementary CRIDAs have been staged without any problems, while a third session is scheduled to take place early today.

The first CRIDA session ended with electricity price levels at 149.64 per MWh, 14.31 percent below the LIDA auction level recorded a day earlier. The initial CRIDA session’s transactions represented a total electricity amount of 2.53 GWh.

As a result of the market coupling, intraday market transactions will no longer be limited to domestic restrictions but will also utilize the capacity of the Greek-Italian grid interconnection left over once electricity import and export activity, through day-ahead markets, has been completed by the two neighboring countries.

Utilization of the grid interconnection’s leftover capacity will offer greater flexibility to suppliers, producers and self-supplying consumers.

The coupling of the Greek, Italian and Slovenian intraday markets represents a first step towards European intraday market unification.

It is planned to be followed, on March 8, by Greece’s entry into the European Cross-Border Intraday Market (XBID), offering continual intraday market transactions, via Italy and Bulgaria.

Greece tables hedging fund plan to soften energy crisis

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas has proposed the adoption of a temporary hedging mechanism by EU member states as a means of easing the burden of increased electricity costs on consumers.

The minister’s proposal, which would enable funds to be drawn from the Emissions Trading System through extraordinary auctions offering additional carbon emission rights or prepayment of potential ETS revenue, was tabled at a meeting of EU energy ministers in Ljubljana yesterday.

The ministers assembled in search of a solution to counter the relentless rise in carbon emission right costs.

Skrekas’ proposal is similar to household mitigation measures recently announced by the Greek government for which electricity subsidies will be financed by revenues generated at carbon emission right auctions, through the Energy Transition Fund.

According to estimates by Greek officials, a sum of between 5 and 8 billion euros will be needed to cover the EU’s overall energy support needs this coming winter. Distribution of this amount to member states would take into account respective electricity consumption levels, heating needs and GDPs.

At the Ljubljana meeting, Greece, Spain and Italy were the only member states to propose the adoption of EU-wide measures as an effort to restrict the effects of the energy crisis, seen worsening for households and businesses this coming winter.

 

Strategic Reserve Mechanism by early ’22 requires much work

Athens and Brussels have agreed on an early-2022 launch for Greece’s Strategic Reserve Mechanism, planned to remunerate power-generating units made available by electricity producers for grid back-up services, but, even so, a considerable amount of work lies ahead.

The European Commission plans to make an official announcement on the Strategic Reserve Mechanism between late November and early December, ahead of the mechanism’s approval by the Directorate-General for Competition.

Authorities in Athens and Brussels are still engaged in talks aiming to finalize the shape of the mechanism, while, at the same time, preparations are in progress for the submission of a new Adequacy Report by power grid operator IPTO, a prerequisite for the approval of Greece’s Market Reform Plan, needed for the new strategic reserve mechanism’s implementation.

At present, Greek officials are preparing responses to a set of second-round questions forwarded by the European Commission. As was the case with the first round, the questioning is extensive. Many of the Brussels questions concern financial details linked to the operation of lignite-fired power stations.

The ongoing Athens-Brussels talks are based on a new draft for the mechanism delivered by the Greek government last May. It includes a proposal for demand-response incorporation into the new strategic reserve mechanism.

 

Greece tops August wholesale electricity price list in Europe

Greece’s wholesale electricity market was rated Europe’s most expensive in August, the country’s day-ahead market averaging a level of 121.72 euros per MWh for the month, according to Energylive data.

Romania followed with an average of 112. 7 euros per MWh, while Italy was ranked third with a day-ahead market average of 112.4 euros per MWh in August. They were followed by: Bulgaria (111.55 euros per MWh); Serbia (109.65 euros per MWh); Hungary (109.02 euros per MWh); and Portugal (105.99 euros per MWh). France recorded Europe’s lowest day-ahead market average in August, 77.3 euros per MWh.

The elevated wholesale electricity market levels closing off August, following various factors that prompted a surge throughout the summer, confirm that de-escalation remains beyond reach at present.

Analysts and market officials, at European and national levels, have warned wholesale electricity price levels will be extremely high in autumn and winter.

Yesterday’s energy exchange day-ahead market prices for today average 123.43 euros per MWh, a 5.52 percent drop compared to the previous day.

August day-ahead market prices in Greece peaked at 142.00 euros per MWh, while the lowest level recorded for the month was 100.56 euros per MWh.

 

 

Greece joining list of countries issuing green bonds, conditions entailed

Greece is preparing to join the growing list of countries issuing green bonds, the plan being to funnel proceeds into green projects at areas that have been affected by this summer’s extensive fires.

But the venture has its challenges and commitments. Any state or corporation accepting funds from investors for green bonds commits to specific environmental clauses.

Projects must be classified entirely eco-friendly, based on international criteria; not financed by recovery funds or the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF); and not included in any public investment programs that could widen the primary deficit.

Also, projects funded by green bonds need to have short-term completion dates of no more than two or three years.

At this stage, it remains unclear when the Greek government will move ahead with its first green bond issue.

Greek corporations, including TERNA, followed by the power utility PPC, have already issued green bonds.

PPC raised 500 million euros through a sustainability-linked bond in mid-July at an interest rate of 3.375 percent, one of the lowest ever borrowing rates secured by PPC, following a March SLB issue that provided 775 million euros.

In return, PPC has committed to a specified CO2 emission reduction of 40 percent by the end of 2022, compared to the corporation’s 2019 level, which represents a cut of 9.2 million tons, otherwise interest rate penalties will be imposed.

 

DESFA: NER North Macedonia pipeline agreement, market test next month

Two further important steps in the lead-up to the construction of a natural gas pipeline linking the Greek and North Macedonian grids are expected to be made in September.

DESFA, Greece’s gas grid operator, and North Macedonia’s energy sources company NER are expected to sign an agreement next month as a follow-up to an agreement signed a month ago by the energy ministers of the two countries in Lagonisi, east of Athens.

The latest agreement will stipulate technical issues, as well as guarantees, concerning the new pipeline, paving the way for tenders concerning the project’s development.

In addition, also in September, DESFA and NER also plan to stage a market test that will determine the commercial feasibility of the project. The two sides want to ensure the existence of a sufficient number of buyers for gas quantities planned to be transported through the pipeline.

The Greek section of the gas pipeline, budgeted at 51.4 million euros, is planned to stretch 54 kilometers. The North Macedonian section will cover a 100-km distance.

A September 13 registration deadline has been set for a tender concerning the procurement of steel pipelines for the project. Also, a draft of the tender concerning the project’s construction has been forwarded for public consultation until August 16.

 

IPTO, Terna to co-develop second Greece-Italy subsea link

Greek power grid operator IPTO and Italy’s Terna have agreed to join forces for the construction of a second subsea cable grid interconnection to reinforce the market coupling of the two countries.

The chief executives of the two operators, IPTO’s Manos Manousakis and Terna’s Stefano Donnarumma held talks in Rome earlier this week, reaching a decision to co-develop the project through a joint venture, sources informed.

Officials in Greece and Italy consider this project, a 200-km cable offering a transmission capacity of between 500 and 1000 MW, will contribute to further RES growth in both markets, while also boosting activity in their target-model energy exchange markets.

The EU has just revised its climate change targets, increasing its RES energy-mix target for 2030 to 40 percent from the previous goal of 32 percent.

First stage of Greek-Italian grid link feasibility study completed

The final stage of a four-step feasibility study being conducted by power grid operator IPTO and Italy’s TERNA for a second subsea cable grid interconnection linking the Greek and Italian systems is expected to be ready at the end of this year, according to a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two operators. The first of the four feasibility study stages has been completed.

IPTO and TERNA, according to the MoU, are examining the prospect of developing yet another grid interconnection, via a subsea cable, for additional capacity of between 500 and 1,000 MW.

This range is also stated in the operator’s ten-year network development plan covering 2022-2031 as the capacity boost required for the Greek-Italian grid interconnection.

This need, as pointed out in IPTO’s ten-year network development plan, was pointed out in ENTSO-E studies looking into requirements for a reinforced European Transmission Network.

The grid link between Greece and Italy needs to be reinforced to enable electricity price convergence between the two countries, according to this study.

The positive impact of a second grid interconnection for further coupling of the two markets was highlighted by energy minister Kostas Skrekas in an article for Greek Energy 2021, an extensive energy-sector publication prepared by the energypress team for a tenth year in succession.

According to Skrekas, target model Greek electricity prices have equaled Italian-zone price levels for about half the time. This period would have been more extensive, but the existing infrastructure’s capacity limits  prevented further price convergence, the minister noted.

The remainder of hours showed grid-link saturation, highlighting the need for a new line, he added.

Greek-Italian-Slovenian intraday market coupling in autumn

Market coupling of the Greek, Italian and Slovenian intraday markets has been scheduled for September 21 through complementary regional intraday auctions (CRIDAs), a further step towards full unification of the European electricity market.

This market coupling move promises to bolster the liquidity of Greece’s intraday market, which has remained subdued since its launch several months ago, while also easing balancing market burdens of participants.

A liquidity boost in the intraday market is necessary for optimal management of intermittent production, as is the case with most RES units.

Greece’s coupling with Italy and Slovenia constitutes the first step in this direction, the intention being to avoid significant discrepancies for RES units and costs they cause.

The degree to which this coupling step will impact Greece’s intraday market remains to be seen, given the limited capacity of an existing subsea cable linking Greece and Italy, offering 500 MW.

This interconnection will require a capacity boost if high-level intraday market activity is to be achieved, as the infrastructure will need to be able to facilitate physical deliveries of electricity amounts ordered.

Also, the interconnection’s leftover capacity for intraday market trading will depend on the level of electricity import and export agreements established through the preceding day-ahead market.

For example, if, on certain days, the interconnection’s capacity is entirely taken up for day-ahead transactions, then intraday market trading will not be possible.

A second step in the coupling of Greece’s intraday market is planned with the country’s entry into the continual XBID (Cross Border Intraday) market with Italy and Bulgaria, planned for the first quarter of 2022.

EastMed alliance broadens, eight countries express support

Support for the EastMed pipeline, planned to transport natural gas from offshore Levantine Basin gas reserves in the southeast Mediterranean to Greece and further into Europe, is growing in numbers with an initial Greek-Israeli-Cypriot alliance promoting this project now joined by five additional partners, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Serbia and North Macedonia.

Energy ministers representing these eight countries forwarded a letter of support for the EastMed project to the European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson late last week, Greece’s energy and environment minister Kostas Skrekas has told local media.

The pipeline, to be developed by IGI Poseidon SA, a 50-50% joint venture between Greek gas utility DEPA and Italian gas utility Edison, is planned to cover a 1,470-km distance.

IGI Poseidon plans to develop EastMed all the way to Italy via Cyprus, Crete, the Peloponnese, mainland Greece and Epirus, the country’s northwestern flank.

This latest move, bringing the eight energy ministers together for the joint letter, was initiated by Skrekas, Greece’s energy minister, sources informed, following an initiative taken two months earlier by his Israeli counterpart Yuval Steinitz to organize a joint virtual conference involving ministers of all eight countries.

In their letter to Simson, the EU energy commissioner, the eight ministers highlight the importance of EastMed, noting the project promises to contribute to the wider region’s energy security and offer benefits to consumers as a result of increased competition and reduced natural gas price levels.

Regional gas interconnections, including the Greek-Bulgarian IGB, Bulgarian-Serbian IBS, Bulgarian-Romanian IBR and the Romanian-Hungarian IRH would be utilized to extend EastMed’s reach, the letter notes.

Greece and North Macedonia are currently planning a new gas pipeline interconnection whose Greek segment is being promoted by gas grid operator DESFA.

Market coupling with Bulgaria expected by early May

Market coupling to unify the Greek and Bulgarian day-ahead markets, representing a second step for the participation of Greek wholesale electricity markets in a pan-European unification of markets through the target model, is planned for late April or early May, sources have informed.

The forthcoming step was preceded by market coupling between Greece and Italy, unifying, as of December 15, the day-ahead markets of the two countries through a single price coupling algorithm, EUPHEMIA (Pan-European Hybrid Electricity Market Integration Algorithm). It calculates energy allocation, net positions and transboundary electricity prices.

Greece’s market coupling with Bulgaria promises to create an even broader trading platform for market participants, sector officials noted. Besides bilateral contracts for energy imports and exports, market coupling will also facilitate automatic energy flow from the higher-priced country to the lower-priced country.

To date, Greece has clearly been an energy importer in its transboundary energy trading relationship with Bulgaria. It remains to be seen if this will be maintained under the new conditions.

Once market coupling of the Greek and Bulgarian day-ahead markets has been accomplished, Greece’s next step towards unification with European energy markets will be to link its intraday market with that of Italy, a step expected by next summer, through the implementation of complementary regional intraday auctions (CRIDA).

Further ahead, a third step, balancing market coupling through two European platforms, MARI (Manually Activated Reserves Initiative) and PICASSO (Platform for the International Coordination of Automated Frequency Restoration and Stable System Operation), is planned for the second half of 2022.

 

Gas developments in the East Med

The international oil companies (IOCs) are still reeling under the impact of low oil and gas prices and massive losses and asset write-offs during 2020. ExxonMobil, under increasing pressure, is considering further spending cuts and even a shake-up of its board.

The path to full recovery will be slow and at the end of it, in 2-3 years, the IOCs will be different, placing more emphasis on clean energy and renewables.

In the meanwhile, around the East Med, Egypt is forging ahead. It has signed a new exploration agreement with Shell for an offshore block in the Red Sea. This is in addition to the 22 agreements signed during 2020 that included major IOCs such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, Eni and Total. Moreover, EGPC and EGAS are planning to offer onshore and offshore exploration blocks for bidding in February.

This continuing activity led to the discovery of 47 oil and 15 natural gas fields in 2020, 13% more than in 2019, despite Covid-19.

Tareq El-Molla, Egypt’s petroleum minister, signaled earlier this month Egypt’s intention to expand its petrochemicals sector to take advantage of the country’s expanding hydrocarbon resources. Egypt has updated its petrochemical national plan until 2023 to meet the increasing prospects in this industry.

LNG exports

Egypt has also benefited from the recent increase in LNG prices, resuming exports from its liquefaction plant at Idku, with most exports going to China, India and Turkey. The country is also ready to resume exports from its second liquefaction plant at Damietta starting end February. This has been lying idle since 2012 due to disputes that have now been resolved.

LNG exports will mainly utilize surplus gas from the Zohr gasfield and possibly imports from Israel, should prices allow it.

In fact, the resumption of LNG exports from Idku relieved some of the pressure on Egypt’s gas market, which is in oversupply partly due to impact of the pandemic, but also due to falling gas demand in Egypt’s power sector and growth in renewable energy.

El-Molla said that Egypt is planning a revival of its LNG exports. But this depends greatly on what happens to global markets and prices.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that the Asian LNG demand and price spike in January was a short-term phenomenon and it is not an indicator that global demand will rebound in 2021. The IEA expects only a small recovery in global gas demand this year, after the decline in 2020, partly due to the pandemic. But given ongoing concerns over the pandemic, the rate of gas demand growth will remain uncertain. The IEA said the longer-term future of LNG markets remains challenging.

Gas from Israel

Chevron – having acquired Noble Energy and its interests in the region last year – with Delek and their partners in Israel’s Leviathan and Tamar gasfields, signed an agreement to invest $235million in a new subsea pipeline, expanding existing facilities. According to an announcement by Delek, the pipeline will connect facilities at Israeli city Ashod to the EMG pipeline at Ashkelon, enabling Chevron and its partners to increase gas exports to Egypt to as much as 7billion cubic meters annually (bcm/yr).

The partners signed agreements last year to export as much as 85bcm/yr gas to Egypt over a 15 year period. Gas supplies from Israel to Egypt started in January last year.

It is not clear at this stage if new agreements will be reached to fully utilize the increased export capacity from Israel to Egypt, but given Egypt’s gas oversupply this may not be likely.

These developments, though, show the vulnerability of Cyprus and the weakness of relying on trilateral alliances with Egypt and Israel for its gas exports.

EastMed gas pipeline

This is being kept alive by regional politicians. Only this week, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia confirmed their support for the EastMed gas pipeline.

While such developments are good politically, bringing like-minded countries around the East Med closer together, they are not sufficient to advance the project. This requires private investment and buyers of the gas in Europe. None of these is forthcoming, because the project is not commercially viable. By the time the gas arrives in Europe it will be too expensive to compete with existing, much cheaper, supplies.

Europe is also moving away from gas and from new gas pipeline projects. Catharina Sikow Magny, Director DG Energy European Commission (EC), covered this at the European Gas Virtual conference on 28 January. Answering the question how much natural gas will the EU need in the future, she said ZERO. She was emphatic that with the EU committed to net zero emissions by 2050, by then there will be zero unabated gas consumed in Europe. In addition, with the EU having increased the emissions reduction target from 40% to 55% by 2030, the use of gas in Europe will be decreasing in order to meet the 2030 and 2050 climate targets. She said that ongoing natural gas projects are expected to be completed by 2022 – with no more needed after that.

With exports to global markets becoming increasingly difficult, there are other regional options to make use of the gas discovered so far around the East Med, including power generation in support of intermittent renewables and petrochemicals, as Egypt is doing. The newly constituted East Med Gas Forum (EMGF) should place these at the heart of its agenda.

What about Cyprus?

Hydrocarbon exploration activities around Cyprus are at a standstill, partly due to the continuing impact of Covid-19, but also due to the dire state of the IOCs and the challenges being faced by the natural gas industry in general.

This lack of activity in resuming offshore exploration may be a blessing, taking the heat off hydrocarbons, while priorities shift to discussions to resolve the Cyprus problem and the Greece-Turkey maritime disputes.

Dr Charles Ellinas, @CharlesEllinas

Senior Fellow

Global Energy Center

Atlantic Council

3 February, 2021

 

Greece, Israel eyeing broader alliance for Balkans, central Europe

The Greek-Israeli energy alliance is broadening its scope by aiming for the establishment of a Greek gateway to facilitate Israeli gas supply to the Balkan region and, by extension, central Europe.

This objective, part of strong diplomatic relations between the two countries in energy, was confirmed during a recent virtual meeting between Greece’s newly appointed energy minister Kostas Skrekas and his Israeli counterpart Yuval Steinitz.

Their bilateral talks will be followed up by broader meeting today to involve the energy ministers of Greece, Israel, Cyprus, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, North Macedonia and Hungary.

The participating officials will seek to lay the foundations for a closer energy alliance that would facilitate distribution from Israel’s Leviathan gas field via alternate routes – the Alexandroupoli FSRU and the IGP – to soon be offered by Greece.

The aforementioned Balkan and central European countries are extremely keen on securing alternative supply routes, diplomatic sources informed.

Much work is needed by Israel and Greece to establish energy alliances with Balkan countries, but a first step will seemingly be taken today.

Spain’s Repsol on verge of exiting Greek upstream market

Spanish petroleum firm Repsol, a member of consortiums holding licenses to three fields in Greece, is on the verge of leaving the country’s upstream market as a part of a wider strategic adjustment prompted by the oil crisis and the pandemic, developments that have impacted exploration plans, as well as a company plan to reduce its environmental footprint, sources have informed.

The upstream industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has driven down prices and demand. The EU’s climate-change policies are another key factor behind Repsol’s decision.

Repsol is believed to have decided to significantly reduce the number of countries in which it is currently present for hydrocarbon exploration and production, the intention being to limit operations to the more lucrative of fields.

All three fields in Repsol’s Greek portfolio are still at preliminary research stages and do not offer any production assurances, meaning they will most probably be among the first to be scrapped by the company from its list of projects.

Respol formed a partnership with Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for offshore exploration in the Ionian Sea. Repsol is the operator in this arrangement. A license secured by the two partners for this region in 2018 was approved in Greek Parliament a year later.

Also, in 2017, Repsol agreed to enter a partnership with Energean Oil & Gas, acquiring 60 percent stakes, and the operator’s role, for onshore blocks in Ioannina and Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece.

Repsol maintains interests in over 40 countries, producing approximately 700,000 barrels per day.

Greek-Italian market coupling boosts transaction efficiency

The Greek-Italian electricity market coupling of day-ahead markets, launched on December 15 as part of the target model, is living up to its expectations as a safety valve facilitating optimal electricity flow between countries.

The initiative, operating through a single price coupling algorithm, EUPHEMIA (Pan-European Hybrid Electricity Market Integration Algorithm), which calculates energy allocation, net positions and transboundary electricity prices, has run smoothly since its launch over a month ago.

Greek-Italian transboundary electricity transactions admittedly enjoyed a high level of maturity prior to the introduction of market coupling, courtesy of reliable price forecasts by participants for the Greek and Italian markets.

A grid interconnection, in the form of a 163-km, 400-kV voltage and 500-MW capacity subsea cable, has been in service since 2002.

However, the market-coupling initiative has taken the efficiency of these transboundary Greek-Italian electricity transactions to a higher level as auctions allocating grid interconnection capacities are no longer required.

Since the mid-December coupling of the Greek and Italian energy markets, electricity has constantly flowed from the market offering lower prices to the higher-priced market, proving this market system’s ability to utilize interconnections to their fullest.

Market coupling of the Greek and Bulgarian day-ahead markets is planned to follow, its launch scheduled for spring.

An increased number of interconnected electricity markets promises to give the Greek wholesale electricity market a regional role. However, transboundary grid interconnections will need to be upgraded if this is to be achieved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greek-Italian market coupling, soon, target model’s next step

Domestic market players and officials are eagerly awaiting to see how the target model’s next stage, Greek and Italian day-ahead market coupling, scheduled for December 15, will influence wholesale electricity prices.

Wholesale electricity prices in the day-ahead market and, especially, the balancing market, have escalated since the target model launch in Greece a month and a half ago.

Greece’s market coupling with Italy will be a crucial step as it promises to take Greece to the essence of the target model effort, namely gradual unification of national energy markets – electricity and gas – into one common European market.

Once market coupling is established between Greece and Italy, energy will flow from the country with lower energy prices to the higher-cost country – to the extent permitted by grid interconnection capacities – until price discrepancies have evened out.

All preliminary work for next week’s Greek-Italian market coupling launch has been successfully completed. An ongoing dry-run procedure involving simulated trading will continue until December 12.

The market coupling launch, three days later, is on schedule, the Greek energy exchange has informed RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Market coupling of Greece and Italy’s balancing markets will take place at a latter date, while Greek-Bulgarian market coupling is planned for early in 2021.

Greece climbs up to 12th place in EU electricity tariff cost rankings

Greece has climbed seven places, to 12th from 19th, in the EU rankings for retail electricity cost, pushed higher by a government decision reached last year to increase tariffs at state-owned power utility PPC, according to latest Eurostat data.

These tariff hikes at PPC were imposed by the government in August, 2019 to protect the utility from falling into bankruptcy.

The EU rankings concern electricity price levels for household consumption levels between 2,500 to 5,000 kWh, annually.

Electricity tariff increases for households in Greece rose by an average of 8.6 percent in the first half of 2020, compared to the previous half, when the country was ranked 19th.

The first-half tariff price for households averaged € 0.129 per KWh, not including taxes and surcharges, up from €0.1189 per KWh in the second half of 2019.

PPC remains Greece’s dominant supplier, representing 63 percent of electricity consumption.

The PPC tariff increase has made electricity more expensive in Greece than in countries with higher income per capita levels. Electricity is now more expensive in Greece than in France (€ 0.1247 per KWh), Finland (€ 0.1178 per KWh), Spain (€ 0.1178 per KWh) and Sweden (€ 0.1130 per KWh), all with higher income levels. Electricity is also more expensive in Greece than in Portugal (€0.1139 per KWh).

Despite the country’s rankings rise, electricity prices in Greece remain below the EU average (€0.1327 per MWh), a result of the competition generated by independent suppliers, subduing prices.

The biggest electricity tariff decreases in the first half of 2020, compared to the previous six-month period, were recorded by the Netherlands (-31%), Latvia (-12.8%), Slovenia (-11.4%), Sweden (-10%) and Estonia (-8.9%), the Eurostat data showed.

TAP’s commercial launch now on the final stretch

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project, to enable the delivery of Caspian gas to destinations throughout southeastern, central and western Europe, is almost ready for its commercial launch, four years after construction began and 17 years after its first feasibility study was conducted.

The project, running from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan, will represent the EU’s main alternative route for natural gas, greatly contributing to the end of the continent’s dependence on Russian gas, supply security and intensified competition.

The TAP project will begin operating at a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters, annually.

Greece was the first of the project’s host countries to complete its segment of construction work, a 550-km stretch across northern Greece, from Evros’ Kipoi area in the northeast to Ieropigi in the Kastoria province, at the Greek-Albanian border.

Just days ago, Greece’s energy ministry approved the operation of the project’s Greek segment, running from Evros to Rodopi, Xanthi, Kavala, Drama, Serres, Thessaloniki, Kilkis, Pella, Imathia, Florina, Kozani and Kastroria.

Authorities of the project’s two other host nations, Albania and Italy, will soon grant their respective operating permits, sources informed.

The project’s commercial launch is expected to take place close to the final quarter this year, the energy ministry has announced.

The Greek and Italian gas grid operators, DESFA and Snam, respectively, will need to prepare their national grids so that natural gas quantities can reach consumers via TAP, sources added.

 

‘Target model tο improve markets, local peculiarities need to go soon’

The target model – the wholesale electricity market model being implemented by virtually all European countries with an aim to gradually harmonize markets, through coupling, for a unified EU electricity market, a key EU objective – promises to improve the operating ability of markets, Sotiris Hatzimichael, power utility PPC’s General Manager of Strategy & Transformation, has noted in an article published as part of an energypress target model special ahead of Greece’s forthcoming launch of new market systems.

Electricity companies will, as a result of the target model, not only have access to national markets but also bigger regional markets, initially, before eventually also gaining access to a European market, the PPC official noted, explaining that this extroversion promises benefits such as broadened customer bases and revenue and profit boost opportunities.

This extroversion will also subject electricity companies to greater competition, forcing optimization, cost minimization and performance maximization, all of which will ultimately benefit energy consumers and the economy, Hatzimichael pointed out.

The results of this effort to restructure wholesale markets will become apparent over time, while, for the Greek market, the target model’s implementation of four market systems – forward, day-ahead, intraday and balancing – will offer benefits to producers, suppliers and consumers and also present a series of challenges, the PPC official noted.

The target model’s four new markets will require new infrastructure, software and hardware, new risk management procedures, as well as many specialized individuals qualified to take on jobs demanded by the target model, Hatzimichael noted.

The transition will be crucial and needs to be handled with great care to avoid market turmoil and instability, he added.

However, true convergence of the Greek market with those of other EU member states will require the swift removal of any local peculiarities that have been incorporated into the Greek version of the target model, such as forward market participation limitations, Hatzimichael stressed.

EU solar generation up 15% in first half, Greece also on upward trajectory

EU solar generation, resisting pandemic-related impact, increased by more than 15 percent in the first half of 2020 to reach 68 TWh, from 59 TWh during the equivalent period a year earlier, according to a new study by EnAppSys, an energy market specialist.

The study, which examined data from 2015 to 2020, found that solar generation in the EU increased by 70 percent over the five-year period.

Developments in the Greek solar market reflect the EU’s upward trajectory, attributed to the global trend for a reduced ecological footprint and continual technological developments that have slashed RES equipment and generation costs.

New solar energy projects with a total capacity of approximately 130 MW were connected to the Greek network during the first half of 2020, while the bulk of new additions is expected in the second half. Though a precise figure is difficult to forecast, some market officials expect a second-half tally of over 200 MW in Greece.

The country has set an ambitious solar energy capacity target of 6.9 GW by 2030.

 

 

 

Greece is ‘hydrocarbon-promising, strategically located’

By Mr. Tassos Vlassopoulos

CEO of Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) Upstream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going solar boosts UK house prices by average of £32,000

The installation of roof-mounted solar energy systems is boosting property values as prospective buyers appreciate energy self-sufficiency and reduced energy bills in the long run.

In the UK, the market value of houses with roof-mounted PV systems increases by an average of 32,459 pounds, or 36,000 euros, according to a study conducted by energy solutions company EffectiveHome.co.uk in ten major cities.

The impact of roof-mounted PV installations on property value was biggest in London, prompting price increases in excess of 90,000 pounds for properties worth the city’s average housing price level of 686,321 pounds, according to the EffectiveHome.co.uk study.

Bristol followed with a property price boost of 45,142 pounds for properties worth the city’s average property level of 322,444 pounds. In Edinburgh, the boost measured 40,095 pounds for the average housing price of 286,397 pounds. Leicester followed with a 31,577-pound price boost for the average housing price level of 225,552 pounds. In Manchester, the increase is 29,278 pounds for the city’s average housing price level of 209,134 pounds.

PV systems offer potential electricity bill savings of at least 27,500 pounds over a 30-year period, the study determined.

“With house prices currently experiencing a mini boom, it’s interesting to see what impact solar energy and benefits such as reduced energy bills and lowering carbon emissions is having,” noted Dan Graby, director at EffectiveHome.

The value of properties equipped with PV systems is expected to be particularly boosted in countries with abundant sunshine, such as Greece, as the world increasingly turns its attention to green energy solutions.

A third round of a subsidy program – worth 850 million euros – supporting energy efficiency upgrades of properties in Greece is expected to be open for applications in October.

US investments in Greek RES sector rising, LNG imports up

New US investments in Greece’s RES sector are on the rise, the energy ministry has stressed following a meeting yesterday between Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, for a discussion on major energy project plans in the wider region and the related American investment activity.

U.S. companies such as ONEX, Black Summit, with support from DFC (International Development Finance Corporation), Quantum Energy Partners, National Energy, General Electric, Fortress Investment Group, Blink and Tesla are all currently pursuing investments in the Greek market.

Hatzidakis, the energy minister, expressed satisfaction over the level of foreign investments in Greece, noting U.S. participation has significantly increased, especially in the energy sector.

Last month, 547 Energy, an American renewable energy venture backed by Quantum Energy Partners, participated for a third time in a row in a RES auction staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, adding 107 MW in wind energy capacity to its Greek portfolio for a current tally of eight RES projects and 390 MW, the energy ministry noted.

National Energy is drawing American funds to develop wind and solar energy projects in Greece with a total capacity of 270 MW, the statement added.

Also, the energy ministry noted, General Electric has supplied equipment for a wind energy farm in Fokida, west of Athens, a project being partially financed by the Fortress Investment Group; Blink recently began an investment plan in the electromobility sector, for rechargers and other equipment; while Tesla, a producer, amongst other things, of electric vehicles, recently announced a plan to expand its operations into Greece.

During their meeting, Hatzidakis and Pyatt also discussed the partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, plus the U.S.

The progress of work at the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline, whose geostrategic importance was stressed by the Greek minister, was also addressed. A closer association with Bulgarian contractors is being sought for the project’s punctual delivery.

Work on the Alexandroupoli FSRU in northeastern Greece is progressing at a satisfactory pace, the two officials agreed, noting the project will have a positive impact on geostrategic and energy matters.

The U.S. supplied nearly half of the 2,651,903 cubic meters of LNG imported into Greece in the first half of 2020, almost quadruple the amount supplied by America to Greece during the equivalent period a year earlier.

Tension rises as Turkish vessel enters Greek continental shelf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turkey tensions will not be escalated, ‘aim achieved’

Turkey will not continue intensifying its provocations in the East Mediterranean as the neighboring country has already achieved its main goal, a State Department declaration noting that the country is performing hydrocarbon exploration activities in disputed territory, Dr Konstantinos Nikolaou, a seasoned petroleum geologist and energy economist, supports.

Turkey’s provocations over the past few days – the country sent a seismic survey vessel into Greek EEZ waters for further exploration work following such initiatives in the past – represent part of a carefully planned strategy whose aim is to end Turkey’s East Mediterranean isolation of recent years and put the country back in the frame of the region’s hydrocarbon developments, experts believe.

Turkey has refused to sign the UN’s International Law of the Sea treaty, strongly disagreeing with Article 121, giving EEZ and continental shelf rights to island areas.

Instead, the country has followed its own rules, adjusting them as it pleases, to avoid giving any rights to island areas.

Besides seeking to reinforce the country’s position that rejects any EEZ rights for islands, the latest Turkish moves also aim to cancel EEZ agreements signed by Cyprus with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon.

Turkey has unsuccessfully sought to sign an EEZ agreement with Egypt, during Muslim Brotherhood times.

Dr. Nikolaou predicts that there will be no Turkish movement south of Crete as the transfer of an area by Libya, Turkey’s regional partner, would be required. The area of Benghazi is not controlled by Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of Libya’s UN-recognized government, but by renegade commander Khalifa Haftar.

Ultimately, the Turkish strategy in the wider region is aiming for co-exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits that may be discovered.

Chevron buys Noble Energy, US striving for regional control

Energy corporation Chevron has become the latest American giant, following ExxonMobil, to establish itself in the east Mediterranean upstream market following a five billion-dollar acquisition of Noble Energy, a deal that adds the gigantic Leviathan gas field in Israel’s EEZ to the California-based buyer’s portfolio and elevates the petroleum group into a dominant regional player.

This latest development highlights America’s strategy for the region, aiming to establish US control of production at new gas fields as well as supply to Europe, analysts noted.

Chevron’s acquisition of Noble Energy, highlighting the upstream industry’s elevated interest in the east Mediterranean, comes amid increased regional tension prompted by Turkish provocation. Greece’s neighbor has just sent a seismic survey vessel into Greek waters for hydrocarbon exploration activities.

Besides the Leviathan gas field’s recoverable reserves, estimated at 22 trillion cubic feet, the Chevron portfolio now also takes on Israel’s Tamar field, whose gas reserves are estimated at 7.1 trillion cubic feet.

Noble has proved reserves of 2.05 billion barrels of oil and gas to add to Chevron’s reported 11.4 billion.

Chevron, whose earnings in 2019 reached 139.9 billion euros, also adds to its assets, totaling 237.4 billion dollars, the Aphrodite gas field, situated within the Cypriot EEZ and estimated to hold 4.5 trillion cubic feet. Noble Energy is among this field’s operators.

Chevron’s control of the Leviathan gas field also secures American influence over the EastMed gas pipeline planned by Israel, Cyprus and Greece.

Fellow American petroleum giant ExxonMobil recently discovered, within the Cypriot EEZ, the Glafkos gas field, estimated to carry between 5 and 8 trillion cubic feet of gas. ExxonMobil has also taken on major licenses in Egypt and is also a member of a consortium formed with France’s Total and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for licenses at offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete.

 

US wants Greece as partner for pumped storage projects

Recognizing the importance of pumped storage hydropower technology as a means for energy storage, the US is promoting the establishment of a related international forum to bring together countries and companies for co-development of such projects.

According to sources, Greek deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas has received an invitation from the US department of energy and the International Hydropower Association requesting Greece’s participation in a US-headed multidisciplinary platform that will seek to reinforce the role of pumped-storage technology in current and future energy systems.

Pumped storage hydropower supply during the pandemic has provided vital energy support for US households, hospitals and schools, American experts have determined.

Washington believes pumped storage hydropower projects are capable of enhancing the reliability of grids and supporting further renewable energy penetration. This technology, regarded as tried and tested, can be further developed in the energy transition era, US experts support.

Pumped storage hydropower currently represents about 94 percent of global energy storage capacity, latest data has shown.

A pumped storage hydropower project planned by Greece’s GEK TERNA in Amfilohia, western Greece, is regarded as a pioneering initiative in Europe.

The country’s energy ministry has approached the European Commission for special funding support for this project, budgeted at over 500 million euros.

 

US backs Greece’s east Mediterranean activities, major projects

All countries in the east Mediterranean region must carry out their activities in accordance with international law, including the International Law of the Sea as stipulated by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Greek and US governments have jointly announced following a high-level virtual conference held yesterday on energy issues.

This statement clearly offers US support for the positions of Greece, facing Turkish provocation.

The working group’s participating Greek and US officials reiterated the commitment of the two countries to cooperate on the effort to diversify energy sources in southeast Europe, collaborate with regional partners for energy source development, and promote regional energy security.

The latest energy working group builds on steadily growing bilateral cooperation following Greek-US strategic dialogue meetings in December, 2018 and October, 2019, the joint announcement added.

The Greek team was represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Deputy Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Openness Kostas Frangogiannis and Deputy Environment and Energy Minister Gerassimos Thomas (photo). The US team was represented by Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon and Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes.

Fannon, the Assistant Secretary of State, expressed satisfaction on the completion of the Greek segment of the TAP gas pipeline project, to carry Azeri gas to Europe.

The US official also offered support for the ongoing construction of the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline interconnection and the progress achieved in plans for an FSRU in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, a South Kavala underground gas storage facility, and Greek-North Macedonian connection.