Energy ministry officials in Sofia for EU’s first regional energy platform

A first regional taskforce for cooperation between EU member states on energy matters, as part of the EU’s Energy Purchase Platform, is scheduled to meet in Sofia tomorrow, as announced earlier this week by European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.

The regional taskforce will concentrate on the year ahead and provide specific regional expertise and know-how to develop and implement the REPowerEU action plan to reduce dependency on Russian fossil fuels, fill storage ahead of next winter and further accelerate the decarbonization of the energy sector.

This meeting comes following Russia’s recent decision to disrupt natural gas supply to Bulgaria as well as Poland.

The Bulgarian government has also organized a coinciding meeting of regional ministers. Greece’s energy minister Kostas Skrekas (photo) and the ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou will participate.

The two Greek government officials will be visiting Sofia on the heels of yesterday’s official launch of work on the Alexandroupoli FSRU, an LNG terminal project intended to diversify the energy sources of Greece and the wider region. Yesterday’s official ceremony was attended by heads of state representing Greece, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Serbia.

During their visit to Sofia, the Greek energy ministry’s two officials are also expected to take part in a bilateral meeting with Bulgarian energy minister Alexander Nikolov.

This session’s agenda will examine the progress of the IGB gas pipeline, set to be completed and launched in July, and an electricity grid interconnection upgrade between the two countries, whose completion is expected by the end of this year.

The IGB gas pipeline, promising to contribute to the EU’s effort for drastically reduced dependency on Russian energy sources, will offer a second interconnection between Greece and Bulgaria, in addition to the nearby Sidirokastro link.

 

 

Alexandroupoli FSRU development launch today, pivotal project

Development of the Alexandroupoli FSRU in Greece’s northeast, a project promising to boost energy security by broadening energy source diversification for Greece and the wider Balkan region, is scheduled to officially commence today.

The prime ministers of Greece and Bulgaria, as well as Serbia’s president, will attend today’s official ceremony. The leaders will highlight the need for energy source diversification in the Balkans and reduced reliance on Russian natural gas.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU promises to establish Greece as a gas hub for transportation of LNG into the EU.

Natural gas consumption in southeast Europe totals between 10 and 11 bcm annually, half this amount provided by Russia.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU, expected to be ready to operate by the end of 2023, is planned to offer a capacity of approximately 5.5 bcm, greatly diversifying gas supply to southeast Europe.

The project is budgeted at 380 million euros, of which 166.7 million euros will be provided through the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).

The Alexandroupoli FSRU will be linked with Greece’s gas grid via a 28-km pipeline, enabling gas supply to Greece, Bulgaria and the wider region, including Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Moldavia and Ukraine.

 

Athens awaiting EU outcome for Gazprom payment stance

The Greek government’s stance regarding Moscow’s demands for ruble-currency payments to Gazprom for natural gas supply will depend on decisions to be taken by fellow EU members, government officials have told energypress.

Athens is expected to push for greater clarity on the matter and a common European stance on the issue at an emergency meeting of EU energy ministers called by the French EU presidency for next Monday.

An imminent payment expected to be made by German company Uniper will be pivotal in decisions to be made by EU member states on Moscow’s ruble-currency payment demand for Russian gas supply.

According to German media, Uniper intends to make a euro-currency payment to Gazprom, but, rather than make the payment to a European bank, as the company has done until now, it will instead transfer the related amount to Russia’s Gazprombank, not on the sanctions list.

As has been widely reported, Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered countries deemed as adversaries to make gas payments through a specific procedure involving two Gazprombank accounts, a foreign-currency account and a ruble-currency account. Gazprombank will convert foreign-currency sums to rubles before transferring the resulting amounts to parent company Gazprom.

Alexandroupoli FSRU project development launch on May 3

Development of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, in Greece’s northeast, a project promising to boost energy security and widen energy source diversification in Greece and the wider Balkan region, is scheduled to officially commence on May 3.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU, to be developed and operated by Gastrade, a project-specific consortium established by the Copelouzos group, has become particularly crucial given the energy market challenges faced by the EU following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU promises to initially offer a new gas transmission corridor to Greece and Bulgaria, and, at a latter stage, to Romania and North Macedonia, helping all these countries reduce their reliance on Russian natural gas.

Completion of the project’s second stage, expected in 2024, promises to double the unit’s capacity and enable natural gas transportation as far as Ukraine.

The Gastrade consortium is comprised of five partners, founding member Elmina Copelouzos of the Copelouzos group, Gaslog Cyprus Investments Ltd, DEPA Commercial, Bulgartransgaz, and DESFA, Greece’s gas grid operator, each holding 20 percent stakes.

All five partners have agreed to offer 2 percent each so that North Macedonia can enter the consortium with a 10 percent stake.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Bulgarian counterpart Kiril Petkov will attend next week’s ceremony marking the start of work on the project.

All eyes on Germany’s ruble payment stance for Russian gas

Greece and the entire EU are waiting to see if Germany will agree to Russia’s demand for Gazprom gas supply payments in the ruble currency.

Berlin’s next payment to Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom is due tomorrow. To date, Chancellor German chancellor Olaf Scholz has refused to bow to Moscow’s recent payment-term demands.

The decision to be reached by Germany on this dispute with Moscow is expected to serve as a guide for most EU members.

Berlin has officially noted that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s payment demand violates the terms of an agreement signed between the two sides.

Besides creating artificial demand and, subsequently, greater value for the ruble, which has been impacted by sanctions on Russia, Moscow’s demand for natural gas payments in its currency is also seen as a Russian show of strength aiming to force the EU to succumb to Russian demands.

The EU’s refusal, so far, to bow to Russia’s ruble-currency pressure for natural gas payments has contributed to keeping gas prices at high levels.

Greek officials who took part in an energy-security meeting yesterday, called by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, reportedly stated that the EU made a mistake to reject Russia’s ruble payment demand, made in late March.

The ongoing political tension and market turbulence, resulting in higher natural gas prices, is benefitting Russia’s gas revenues.

 

Talks in progress for Italy’s East Med gas pipeline entry

Talks are in progress for Italy’s official entry into the East Med gas pipeline project, a prospective 2,000-km pipeline planned to carry natural gas to Europe via Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy, energypress sources have informed.

Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement for the project’s development in 2020, without Italy’s participation, as the country’s government at the time, citing environmental issues, had reacted against the project reaching its shores.

Italy’s current Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, recently stressed that the East Med gas pipeline needs to be pursued as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The project has now gained political support in Italy, through a resolution issued in parliament urging the government to co-sign the transboundary agreement, energypress sources informed.

Italy has revised its stance on the East Med project as a result of a recent EU-27 decision to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas.

Italy could officially announce, in May, its intention to co-sign the East Med agreement, sources informed.

Sanctions on Russia boost Greece’s upstream prospects

The EU’s revised natural gas strategy, seeking alternative solutions as a result of sanctions imposed on Russia, has created favorable conditions for Greece’s upstream sector as the Greek market could become a destination for upstream companies operating in Russia and now needing to shift.

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, has forwarded letters to upstream companies already maintaining interests in Greece, informing them of the government’s intentions for a renewed, more ambitious hydrocarbon strategy.

EDEY also intends to hold meetings with these upstream companies to determine their levels of interest in the Greek market and shape its actions accordingly.

Total and ExxonMobil maintain hydrocarbon interests in Greece as co-members of a consortium holding two offshore licenses, west and southwest Crete. The two companies each have 40 percent stakes in this consortium, Greece’s ELPE holding the other 20 percent.

The consortium, it is believed, aims to conduct seismic surveys next winter at the offshore Crete licenses, still at early exploratory stages.

Besides these two licenses, a further four licenses have been granted in Greece. Energean maintains an onshore block in the Ioannina area, northwestern Greece. The company also holds a 75 percent stake at Block 2, northwest of Corfu, with ELPE as its partner. Also, ELPE holds two offshore licenses in the west, Block 10 and Ionio.

These six licenses could generate total turnover of 250 billion euros by 2030, assuming a 20 percent success rate during exploration, according to a conservative forecast made by EDEY.

Egyptian grid operator team in Athens for Greek grid link talks

A team of highly ranked officials from the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC), headed by president and CEO Sabah Mashali, is in Athens for two days of talks, beginning today, on the development of the Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection.

The EETC officials are scheduled to meet today with a team of Greek power grid operator IPTO officials, headed by president and CEO Manos Manousakis, for a discussion on technical details concerning the grid interconnection.

Tomorrow, the EETC team is scheduled to meet with Greece’s energy minister Kostas Skrekas as well as development and investment minister Adonis Georgiadis.

A first step for the project was taken last October when the Greek and Egyptian energy ministers signed a related Memorandum of Understanding. As part of the agreement, the power grid operators of both countries have assembled a working group to conduct necessary preliminary work.

The group’s responsibilities, according to the MoU, include technical coordination to ensure the grid interconnection’s compatibility; facilitating the project’s licensing matters; as well as providing support for the project’s classification as an EU Project of Common Interest, which would ensure EU funding support.

The Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection is planned to exclusively transmit green energy from Egypt to Greece as a means of increasing the energy-mix share of renewables in Greece and the wider region and also bolstering energy security in Europe, prioritized following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, during a recent meeting with European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, stressed the importance of the Greek-Egyptian grid link, noting it should receive European backing.

 

Greece, Cyprus, Israel look to push ahead with key projects

The prospective East Med gas pipeline and a subsea electricity grid interconnection, projects that would link Israel with Cyprus and Greece and which are being heavily promoted as a result of the EU’s new energy policy, aiming to end the continent’s reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible, are expected to dominate the agenda of today’s trilateral meeting in Jerusalem between the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Energy company representatives will, for the first time, also be participating in a trilateral meeting of energy ministers involving the three countries, highlighting the determination of all three countries, and the EU, for swift progress on projects and agreements that would contribute to greater energy diversification for Europe.

Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas will be accompanied by Kostas Xifaras, chief executive of gas company DEPA Commercial; Mathios Rigas, CEO of upstream company Energean; and Manos Manousakis, CEO of Greek power grid operator IPTO.

Representatives of corresponding Cypriot and Israeli companies will also be taking part in today’s trilateral meeting.

Prospects for the development of the EuroAsia electricity grid link promising to connect the three countries have grown considerably as Israel appears to have swept aside previous reservations. Israel has wanted the completion of the Crete-Cyprus link as a prerequisite ahead of further development.

 

 

Greece, Cyprus, Israel prepare to discuss East Med, power grid link

The East Med gas pipeline and a subsea electricity grid interconnection to link Israel with Greece and Cyprus, projects whose prospects have grown as a result of the EU’s new energy policy, aiming to end the continent’s reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible, are expected to dominate the agenda at an upcoming trilateral meeting between the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

The session is planned to take place in a fortnight’s time or immediately following the Greek Easter period, culminating on April 24.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi recently stressed that development of the East Med gas pipeline, a prospective 2,000-km pipeline planned to carry natural gas to Europe via Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy, needs to be pursued as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A consortium formed by Greek gas company DEPA and Italy’s Edison is continuing its studies on the East Med project plan.

As for the subsea electricity grid interconnection, Cyprus and Israel have pushed for its development to end their energy isolation. The European Commission has already approved funding worth 657 million euros for the prospective project’s section to run from Greece to Cyprus.

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and energy minister Kostas Skrekas will be involved in two key meetings in Athens today, to focus on energy matters as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine, with Israel’s alternate prime minister and foreign affairs minister Yair Lapid, as well as US under secretary of state for political affairs Victoria Nuland.

 

Athens, Europe’s south hoping for brave crisis decisions

Athens, along with other EU administrations, especially in Europe’s south, will be hoping for a brave European response to the energy crisis’ exorbitant prices at this week’s summit of EU leaders, scheduled for March 24 and 25.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has joined forces with his counterparts from Italy, Spain and Portugal ahead of this week’s summit. The four leaders are hoping action, rather than just good intentions, as expressed by Europe’s north during an unofficial meeting a fortnight ago, will be taken.

That session highlighted a lack of agreement on the issue of a Eurobond as a common solution to help consumers in Europe cope with extremely higher energy prices.

Some analysts believe long negotiations could be needed at the forthcoming summit, as was the case in 2020, when European leaders worked for five days to eventually approve the Recovery and Resilience Facility as a means of helping economies bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.

Other analysts fear US president Joe Biden’s participation in the concurrent EU-NATO conference will overshadow talks for energy market intervention, postponing needed action for a next session.

 

 

Government now fully encouraging upstream activity

The Greek government is now fully encouraging foreign and domestic upstream companies to continue their hydrocarbon exploration activities at licenses held in the country for discovery and production of natural gas deposits.

In comments offered yesterday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, while referring to the government’s latest energy-crisis support package for households and businesses, spoke of the country’s need to utilize its natural gas deposits as part of a national effort to achieve energy sufficiency.

Europe’s need to drastically reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas, as highlighted by the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has prompted the Greek government to reassess its energy policy and, once again, turn to the country’s hydrocarbon potential.

The European Commission has prioritized swifter development of renewable energy sources in the EU, but cover will be needed from other energy sources during the transition, expected to last many years.

Brussels is now backing the further maintenance of European nuclear and coal-fired power stations, as well as extraction of oil and natural gas for a longer period.

Aris Stefatos, chief executive at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, has, on a number of occasions, estimated that Greece’s natural gas deposits could be worth 250 billion euros.

EU south, uniting, anticipates drastic energy cost measures

Europe’s south is pushing for drastic European Commission action in the hope that soaring energy prices can be countered as the endurance of consumers in less robust European economies continues to diminish,  prompting fears of an increase in unpaid receivables, energy company closures, even social unrest, if prices do not de-escalate within the next few months.

The European Commission, gearing up for its next summit, on March 24 and 25, is believed to be preparing to present a series of measures intended to tackle skyrocketing energy prices.

If decisive, these European Commission measures would be embraced by EU member states, especially in the south. If the measures remain half-hearted, in the hope of favorable market developments during spring, they will prompt disappointment, possibly even rebellion, within the EU.

The leaders of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal plan to meet in Rome either this week or next to establish a common line ahead of the upcoming EU summit.

The precise nature of the European Commission’s upcoming measures has yet to be disclosed. Wholesale natural gas market intervention, with or without price ceilings, as Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has proposed, is a possibility. A detachment of electricity prices from natural gas prices, as proposed by Athens and Madrid, is another possible measure that could be announced by Brussels.

The likelihood of a Eurobond issue to help cover the energy needs of consumers in the EU appears to have faded following recent talk of such a solution.

East Med regains attention as EU reshapes gas strategy

The energy crisis, skyrocketing natural gas prices, and the EU’s new energy policy, aiming to end the continent’s reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible, are developments creating bigger prospects for the East Med pipeline, whose development could upgrade Greece’s role in the energy sector as well as geopolitically.

Importantly, higher gas prices have boosted the feasibility of the East Med pipeline project, a prospective 2,000-km pipeline planned to carry natural gas to Europe via Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy, as was supported yesterday by Edison CEO Nicola Monti.

The US withdrew its support for the project in January, citing technical and commercial sustainability concerns. Many analysts have forecast gas price levels will remain elevated for an extended period, which could make East Med a profitable investment for companies that construct and operate the pipeline.

Earlier this week, the European Commission announced its ambitious Repower EU roadmap, prioritizing the search for alternative natural gas sources and supply routes as a means of ending the continent’s reliance on Russian gas.

East Mediterranean gas deposits are well positioned, close to European markets. It remains unclear as to whether it would be more beneficial to transport these gas quantities in the form of LNG or via the East Med pipeline.

Given the bolstered bargaining power of gas producers and LNG exporters, the EU could be better off pursuing a pipeline solution. Also, Shell’s forecast of an LNG shortage in international markets from 2025 onwards should be kept in mind.

Copelouzos’ Greek-Egyptian grid link backed by leaders

The Elica Interconnection, a Greek-Egyptian grid interconnection planned by the Copelouzos Group, has received the backing of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, entrepreneur Dimitris Copelouzos, founder of the group, has informed journalists.

A preceding teleconference between the leaders of the two countries, with participation from the president of the European Investment Bank Werner Hoyer, is expected to result in EU funding for the project.

According to Copelouzos, the project is budgeted at more than 3.5 billion euros, of which 1.5 billion euros will be provided by a group of Greek banks. The project is also a candidate for the PCI list, enabling EU funding support.

The Copelouzos group had set its sights on this project from as far back as 2008. Its double subsea cable, to stretch 954 kilometers from El Sallum to coastal Nea Makri, northeast of Athens, promises to transmit low-cost green energy with a 3-GW capacity, of which one third will be provided to local industries and the other two thirds exported to fellow EU members.

More specifically, on the exports, 1 GW will be transported through the Greek-Italian and Greek-Bulgarian networks, while the other 1 GW will be used for hydrogen production, most of which will be exported to other parts of Europe.

Licensing and financing procedures for the project are being hastened as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine as the Elica Interconnection promises to offer Greece and the rest of the EU yet another alternative energy source as part of the continent’s effort to restrict its dependence on Russia.

The Elica Interconnection is planned to be completed by late 2025 or early 2026.

Egypt appears keen to accelerate plan for natural gas pipeline to Greece

Egypt’s minister of petroleum and mineral sources Tarek El-Molla (photo, right) has underlined the potential of energy-sector collaboration between Cairo and Athens and the significance of an MoU signed by Egypt and Greece for joint development of energy infrastructure.

The Egyptian minister was speaking at the annual Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypts, before 2,000 attendants from 65 countries, among them top-ranked officials from multinational energy giants.

Agreements already signed between Egypt and Greece pave the way for the development of a subsea natural gas pipeline linking the two countries, El-Molla noted.

According to diplomatic sources, this special mention by the Egyptian minister highlights his country’s interest to push ahead with the natural gas pipeline project, which, on the one hand, would facilitate Egyptian natural gas exports to the EU and, on the other, help the continent further diversify its energy sources.

A further increase in activity between Athens and Cairo for an acceleration of procedures leading to the gas pipeline project’s development has not been ruled out by the diplomatic sources.

In addition, the potential of a subsea electricity grid interconnection between the two countries also seems to be gaining momentum, the diplomatic sources noted. Greek power grid operator IPTO and Egyptian counterpart EETC are collaborating on this latter project.

The current Russia-Ukraine problem once again highlights Europe’s need for further energy source diversification. Russia, through gas giant Gazprom, covers approximately one third of European natural gas consumption in the household and business sectors.

 

Athens among Europe’s ten most expensive cities for energy

Athens ranked among Europe’s ten most expensive cities for electricity and natural gas last December, according to a monthly Household Energy Price Index (HEPI) report.

The data, collected for the HEPI report by the regulatory authorities for energy of Austria (Energie Control) and Hungary (MEKH) in association with energy consulting firm VaasaEET, highlighted the skyrocketing electricity and gas prices around Europe.

The Greek capital was ranked sixth in terms of retail electricity cost in December, Athenian households paying an average of €0.315 per KWh.

Copenhagen was Europe’s most expensive city for electricity with a December average price of nearly €0.40 per KWh. The Danish capital was followed by London (€0.396), Brussels (€0.37), Berlin (€0.362) and Amsterdam (€0.343). These price levels include taxes.

Electricity prices averaged €0.24 for the EU and €0.23 for the total of 33 cities included in the survey.

The lowest electricity prices were recorded in Kiev (€0.0546), Belgrade (€0.0811), Budapest (€0.105), Podgorica (€0.105), Valletta (€0.123) and Sofia ((€0.123).

Athens recorded the biggest electricity price increase in December, compared to November, which reached 22 percent. The Greek capital was followed by Stockholm (17%), Warsaw (12%) and Amsterdam (11%).

Athens was also high on the list of natural gas prices for households, ranking seventh in December with an average price of €0.12 per KWh.

Stockholm topped this list with an average price of €0.234 per KWh, followed by Copenhagen (€0.194), Amsterdam (€0.19), Bern (€0.143), Rome (€0.13) and Vienna (€0.125).

Europe’s lowest natural gas prices, ranging from €0.025 and €0.05, were recorded in Kiev, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest, Warsaw, Bratislava, Zagreb and Riga.

 

 

 

Heraklion Port Authority e-welcomes Poseidon Med II

A technical workshop was organized by the Heraklion Port Authority, which participates as a satellite port at the EU co-funded programme. This is the final dissemination event that shared the work to date and milestones of the Action to key stakeholders, seeking their input and comments to the completed activities.

In an atmosphere of consensus that the port should embrace alternative fuels in order to remain both sustainable and competitive, issues like the Presidential Decree on safe LNG Bunkering, training competencies, port manuals and the port’s masterplan to accommodate LNG, were thoroughly addressed.

The virtual event did not focus only on the technical pillars of the Action but moreover shared, with all participants, the basics of LNG as a marine fuel and also the project’s key features and attributes.

Mr. Minas Papadakis, CEO made a reference to the concerns stemming from the proximity of the infrastructure to the populated areas around the port; yet he continued by highlighting the positive impact of the Action on the sound profile of the Port of Heraklion. Mr. Papadakis concluded by expressing his full support to the deliverables of Poseidon Med II and welcomed the next era for LNG as fuel, which he characterised as being ‘far from transitional’ as regards to its application in the maritime transportation sector.

Mr. Stavros Lirintzakis, Project Manager on behalf of the Port of Heraklion, supported the above positions and proudly advised the audience that despite the difficulties, the management of the Port Authority and its stakeholders look forward to welcoming similar projects in the future.

Poseidon Med II project is a practical roadmap which aims to bring about the wide adoption of LNG as a safe, environmentally efficient and viable alternative fuel for shipping and help the East Mediterranean marine transportation propel towards a low-carbon future.

The project, which is co-funded by the European Union, involves three countries Greece, Italy and Cyprus, six European ports (Piraeus, Patras, Lemesos, Venice, Heraklion, Igoumenitsa) as well as the Revithoussa LNG terminal.

The project brings together top experts from the marine, energy and financial sectors to design an integrated LNG value chain and establish a well-functioning and sustainable LNG market.

EDEY studying Norwegian upstream diversification

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is exploring, with the expertise and support of Norwegian scientists, the prospect of incorporating carbon capture and storage (CCS) and offshore wind farms into its range of activities, taking Norway as an example.

The effort is being conducted with financial support from the European Economic Area (EEA) grants mechanism, established by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein with the aim, amongst other matters, of strengthening bilateral ties with 15 European countries, including Greece.

Norway, which has accumulated years of expertise through hydrocarbon extraction, has successfully combined its upstream sector with new energy fields such as CCS and offshore wind farms.

According to EDEY chief executive Aristofanis Stefatos, the objective is to make note of the most positive aspects of these Norwegian synergies to help Greece develop important projects needed for the energy transition, without excluding exploration of natural gas deposits in Greek seas should market conditions become appropriate.

The EDEY study with Norwegian experts, titled “Review of the Transformation of the Norwegian Oil and Gas Industry during the Energy Transition and its application in Greece”, began last April and has been included in the EEA Grants program covering 2014 to 2021.

 

 

North rejects wholesale price as reflection of energy mix cost

A French-led proposal aligning members of Europe’s south and calling for wholesale electricity prices to reflect the energy-mix cost, from now on, has been rejected by a nine-member bloc of the north, including Germany, which insists energy exchange markets are functioning well.

France joined forces with Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain at a council meeting of European energy ministers yesterday, during which Barbara Pompili, France’s Minister of Ecological Transition, tabled the proposal from the south.

Despite the energy crisis of recent months, which has driven up energy cost levels to unprecedented levels and placed consumers, including industry, under great pressure, Europe’s north, better equipped to handle adverse market conditions as a result of more diverse energy mixes and numerous grid interconnections, has remained adamant that markets remain rational.

Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands all refused to discuss the French-led proposal at yesterday’s council meeting, noting that natural gas must continue to shape wholesale electricity prices.

Europe’s south wants wholesale price to reflect energy mix cost

Greece will align with a French proposal for wholesale electricity prices as a reflection of energy-mix cost, not energy exchange levels, a stance to be adopted by countries of Europe’s south, at a council meeting of European energy ministers today.

France will join forces with Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain, Barbara Pompili, Minister of Ecological Transition, has informed ahead of today’s session, for their presentation of a joint proposal to the EU 27 for wholesale electricity market reforms.

The proposal’s objective will be to offer consumers better protection against excessive price increases as well as stability through the energy transition period.

It remains unclear how the French-led proposal will be received by other EU member state representatives.

Europe’s north, better equipped to handle adverse market conditions as a result of more diverse energy mixes and numerous grid interconnections, enabling greater flexibility, has been less affected by the energy crisis and, subsequently, is not under pressure to seek market reforms.

However, governments around the continent are feeling growing pressure as wholesale price levels appear to be establishing themselves at higher levels, impacting inflation rates around Europe, latest Eurostat figures for November have shown.

In Greece, wholesale electricity prices have held steady at record-breaking levels above 260 euros per MWh over the past few days.

Greek-Egyptian technical committee formed for grid link

A joint technical committee has been formed as a first step for the development of a Greek-Egyptian electricity grid interconnection.

The working group’s formation was included in a Memorandum of Cooperation signed in mid-October by Greek energy and environment minister Kostas Skrekas and Egypt’s electricity and renewable energy minister Mohamed Shaker.

The establishment of technical specifications required by the grid interconnection project to ensure the project’s interconnectivity with the Geek and Egyptian grids is a key priority for the technical committee.

The committee will also explore the possibility of having the project included on the Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, enabling EU funding support.

The interconnection project, whose development will entail the installation of an underwater cable linking the two countries, will exclusively facilitate transmission of renewable energy.

 

COP26 starts with disappointing G20 result, lacking commitment

The biggest challenge to be faced by world leaders at the crucial UN COP26 summit talks on climate, now underway in Glasgow, could well be the disappointing outcome at a meeting of G20 countries, which agreed on the need to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels but fell short of making specific commitments to achieve this goal.

The COP26 summit, seen as crucial for saving the planet from climate change effects, was delayed by a year as a result of the pandemic.

Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will save the planet from catastrophe, scientists believe.

Nearly 200 countries had signed the 2015 Paris accords on climate change, but far greater diplomacy and political will is needed for tougher commitments.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will travel to Glasgow today to deliver a speech before an audience of world leaders.

The Greek leader’s speech is expected to highlight the country’s decarbonization objectives; significant RES production increase and more ambitious targets and plans, including installation of offshore wind farms; Greece’s green island plans and innovative programs being implemented; initiatives for an eco-friendly shipping industry; and measures for the environmental protection of ecosystems.

 

Fossil fuel subsidies exceed amount for renewables in 2019, EC report shows

Greece spent one percent of GDP on fossil fuel subsidies in 2019, exceeding the 0.9 percent level allotted for renewable energy subsidies, a European Commission report published yesterday has shown.

However, fossil fuel subsidies in Greece are on a downward trajectory whereas subsidies for the RES sector and energy efficiency are steadily rising, the report added.

Of 1.6 billion euros made available for fossil fuel subsidies in 2019, the biggest percentage concerned diesel and petroleum products, the remainder going to the natural gas and lignite sectors.

Energy source subsidies in the EU totaled 176 billion euros in 2019, up 8 percent from 2015, the report noted.

Subsidies for energy efficiency increased during this period by 43 percent to 5 billion euros while subsidies for energy production increased by just 4 percent to 3 billion euros, primarily for renewables, the Brussels report showed.

 

 

 

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.