Supplier guarantees proposed by IPTO ‘needless, excessive’

Electricity suppliers have expressed reservations about a power grid operator IPTO report calling for the payment of guarantees by all parties registered with ESMIE, Greece’s electricity transmission system, to fulfill obligations, describing these guarantees as needless and excessive.

The operator’s report was put forth for consultation by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, prompting responses from ESEPIE, the Hellenic Association of Electricity Trading and Supply Companies, and three energy suppliers, the power utility PPC, Heron and Protergia.

The IPTO call for guarantees would excessively burden ESMIE members and create serious cashflow problems in the mid to long term, the association and suppliers noted in their responses.

Contrary to formulas used for IPTO and the Energy Exchange, a financial danger coefficient was not applied to the calculations determining the ESMIE member guarantees, the association and suppliers pointed out.

In addition, the IPTO report also calls for a monthly system-use charge imposed on suppliers to be doubled and paid in advance.

The report also proposes a revision to the formula determining penalties for delayed guarantee payments. ESEPIE described the IPTO proposal for a penalty charge of 1,000 euros per month as erroneous, instead offering its support for the current formula, increasing penalty payments for delays by 0.1 percent per day.

RAE has yet to take a position on the IPTO report’s proposals.

PPC secures 3 of 4.5 GW offered at last week’s flexibility auction

Power utility PPC secured the largest quantities at last Friday’s flexibility remuneration auction, obtaining 3 GW of a total of 4.5 GW made available to bidders, early data has shown.

Also, Mytilineos-Protergia secured 630 MW, followed by Elpedison with 469 MW and Heron with 339 MW.

The August 14 auction, staged by power grid operator IPTO, offered bidders flexibility remuneration rights for a period covering August 15 to October 31 this year.

A total flexibility capacity of 4,500 MW was offered at a starting price of 39,000 euros per MW, annually.

Gas supplier switching up 164% in newly liberalized gas market

A total of 20,134 gas company customers, 4.18 percent of 481,838 in total, switched suppliers in 2019, data provided by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has shown.

This mobility highlights the Greek retail gas market’s heightened level of competition less than three years since its liberalization and the determination of customers to secure the best possible deals.

In 2018, when the country’s retail gas market was liberalized, 7,611 customers of 441,330 in total, a far lower 1.72 percent, switched gas suppliers.

These figures represent a 164 percent rise, between 2018 and 2019, of customers switching gas suppliers.

Businesses registered the greatest level of mobility, followed by household customers and industrial customers, in that order, both in terms of gas amounts used and number of supply connections.

The supplier switching rate in the household category was 4.12 percent in 2019, up from 1.69 percent in 2018. In the business category, 5.72 percent of consumers switched suppliers in 2019, up from 2.41 percent in 2018.

On the contrary, supplier switching in the industrial customer category fell sharply to 3.17 percent in 2019 from 8.78 percent in 2018.

In numbers, 19,180 household consumers of 465,018 in total changed gas suppliers in 2019. In the business category, 944 of 16,505 made switches to new suppliers last year. As for the industrial category, 10 of 315 customers moved to new gas suppliers in 2019.

Despite the increased level of customer mobility, two suppliers, Zenith and Fysiko Aerio, remained dominant, capturing market shares of 65.51 and 25.76 percent, respectively, in terms of number of connections, according to the RAE data. The two frontrunners were followed by Mytilineos (2.85%), Elpedison (2.05%) and NRG (1.16%).

These market shares and rankings differ when based on gas volume. Under these terms, Zenith’s share was 35.95 percent in 2019, while Fysiko Aerio captured a 31.13 percent share. They were followed by PPC (5.96%), Mytilineos (5.44%), Heron (5.25%), Elpedison (5.21%) and DEPA (3.51%), among a field of smaller players.

 

 

Electricity supplier switching by consumers up 89% in 2019

Consumers switching electricity suppliers increased sharply by 89 percent in 2019, a report by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has shown.

A total of 576,436 consumers, 8.5 percent of the 6,783,075 consumers in total, switched suppliers in 2019, up from 4.51 percent in 2018, the report showed.

This sharp rise in consumer switches was attributed to growing consumer confidence in independent electricity suppliers as well as the effectiveness of discounts and various other offers made available by these suppliers to attract customers. Put simply, competition in the Greek electricity market appears to be intensifying.

Household electricity consumers showed the greatest degree of mobility, followed by mid and high-voltage consumers, or businesses and industrial consumers, the RAE report observed.

In the mid-voltage category, 834 business and industrial consumers of 9,071 in total, or 9.19 percent, switched electricity suppliers in 2019, according to the report.

Despite the increased customer mobility, power utility PPC remained dominant in 2019, supplying electricity to 5,694,627 consumers, or 83.95 percent of the 6,783,075 in total, the report showed. In terms of consumption, PPC held a 71.13 percent share, supplying 27.7 million MWh last year.

Independent supplier Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, was ranked second in terms of total number of customers in 2019, supplying to 181,232 customers, the report noted.

Elpedison was ranked third with 171,143 customers, followed by Heron (140,812), Watt & Volt (127,364), Zenith (73,968), Volton (69,688), NRG (52,961), Fysiko Aerio (39,881), Volterra (35,748) and KEN (33,997).

A total of 24 independent suppliers are active in Greece’s electricity market.

Universal supply service overcharge set at 12%

Electricity consumers resorting to the universal supply service, covering the energy needs of households and small businesses shunned by suppliers for failing to be punctual with payments, will face tariff levels 12 percent over the regular market rate, according to a related ministerial decision.

The country’s five biggest electricity suppliers, in terms of retail market share, will need to share the pool of old and new unwanted customers and provide the universal supply service.

Previously, the market leader – consistently PPC – was forced to offer the service alone after suppliers chose not to submit bids to related universal service tenders.

Under the service’s new rules, the highest tariff rate among the top five suppliers will serve as the base for the 12 percent overcharge.

PPC, still dominating Greece’s retail electricity market with a 90 percent share of power meters, Protergia (Mytilineos), Heron, Elpedison – all three control 3 percent each – and NRG (1%) are the top five suppliers who, by law, must offer the universal supply service.

 

 

PPC, majors face 20% sale limit on output for bilateral contracts

Vertically integrated electricity producers will be permitted to sell up to 20 percent of production through mutual agreements once the target model is launched, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided, ultimately doubling a 10 percent limited proposed by the Greek stock exchange, energypress sources have informed.

RAE reached its decision to set the limit at 20 percent after considering arguments presented by producers and sector authorities during consultation.

The limit takes into effect power utility PPC, dominating the retail market, as well as all integrated producers with retail market shares of more than 4 percent – namely, as things stand, Protergia, Heron and Elpedison, all with over 4 percent for quite some time now.

This decision by RAE is one of the last pending issues concerning energy exchange markets, recently rescheduled to begin operating on September 17, if all goes according to plan from here on.

ESAI/HAIPP, the Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers, had proposed a limit of between 5 and 10 percent for PPC’s mutual agreements and forward contracts, and proportional limits for vertically integrated electricity producers with market shares of more than 4 percent.

PPC, which, from the outset, pushed for a 20 percent limit, based its argument on a study by global energy consulting company ECCO International, according to which the sale limit on output should range between 10 and 20 percent.

 

PPC mid-voltage market share tumbles to 30%, competition intense

Power utility PPC’s market share in the mid-voltage category, where competition has intensified, slid to 30.2 percent in May, well below its 53.72 percent share in January, making way for independent suppliers who have made significant gains since the beginning of the year.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, ranked second in the mid-voltage market, was the biggest gainer during the five-month period, increasing its mid-voltage market share to 20.02 percent in May, nearly double January’s 12.19 percent.

Heron follows with 13.74 percent, up from 9.24 percent in January. Elpedison is ranked fourth with 9.34 percent, from 6.72 percent in January. NRG is next, closely behind, with a 7.74 percent mid-voltage market share, from 5.16 percent at the beginning of the year.

No major market-share changes have been reported in the high and low-voltage categories.

Overall – high, mid and low-voltage categories – PPC captured 66.27 percent of the market in May, slightly below the previous month’s 67.25 percent.

Protergia is ranked second, overall, with a 7.31 percent share, up from 6.84 percent in April. Heron is in third place with 6.27 percent, gaining from the previous month’s 5.81 percent. Elpedison follows with 4.97 percent, down from 5.06 percent in April.

Top five taking on universal supply service, tender futile

A tender staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, offering electricity suppliers a two-year contract for universal supply service covering the needs of consumers who have been shunned for not being punctual with payments, has failed to produce a result.

Though the outcome of this procedure remains consistent with results of equivalent tenders in previous years, an imminent change of rules will require the electricity market’s top five suppliers, based on market share, to assume the universal supply service.  Higher tariffs are charged.

Until now, power utility PPC, as market leader, was forced to take on the job alone.

A ministerial decision on the rule change is expected to be delivered by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas within the next few days.

The universal electricity supply service’s two-year contract starts on June 23.

Based on market data for April, the Greek retail electricity market’s top five suppliers are: PPC, Protergia, Heron, Elpedison and Watt+Volt. NRG trails slightly behind in sixth place.

Unlike other European markets, where the universal electricity supply service is a desirable venture, and, as a result, warrants competitive procedures, the equivalent service in Greece is typically neglected by suppliers as it has been abused by non-punctual electricity consumers exploiting the service as a safe haven.

Electricity demand down 12.6% in April, industrial use slumps 23.6%

Electricity demand slumped 12.6 percent in April compared to the same month a year earlier, the biggest drop registered by high-voltage industrial consumers, forced to suspend or restrict output during the lockdown, power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report has shown.

Industrial electricity consumption in April fell sharply by 23.6 percent, the IPTO report showed.

The drop in electricity consumption linked to mining activity was even sharper, falling 55.5 percent in April. Besides the lockdown, this drop was also attributed to significant operational restrictions implemented at power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power plants.

Electricity generation in April fell by 3.2 percent, to 2,893 GWh compared to 2,990 during the same month a year earlier, according to the data.

This reduction was mild compared to major shifts observed in sources of generation. Lignite-based generation fell by 62.7 percent year-on-year, confirming, most emphatically, the commencement of PPC’s decarbonization effort.

High costs for lignite-based generation severely reduced the operational time of PPC’s lignite-fired power plants, limiting lignite’s share of the electricity production mix to just 10 percent in April.

On the contrary, the production share of interconnected RES facilities, benefiting from favorable conditions, rose sharply by 33.9 percent, year-on-year, to capture a market-leading 36 percent share of overall electricity generation in April.

Natural gas-fired power plants followed with a 30 percent share following an 11 percent year-on-year rise in output.

Electricity imports (grid interconnections) contributed 18 percent, while hydropower facilities increased their output by 19.8 percent to capture a 6 percent share in April.

PPC provided 951 GWh, or 56.6 percent of the production, while independent producers covered 43.4 percent.

Among the independent producers, Mytilineos led the way with 228.1 GWh, followed by Elpedison (210.4 GWh), Korinthos Power (154.1 GWh) and Heron II (136.3 GWh).

The IPTO data on generation highlights an increasing shift towards cleaner energy sources.

 

 

Natural gas bill payments down 30% in last two months

Natural gas bill payments have plunged by 30 percent over the past two-month period following a milder single-digit decline a month earlier, latest market data has shown.

Consumers have resorted to installment-based payback plans in far greater numbers during this two-month period of deterioration.

Suppliers, fearing a rise in unpaid receivables, are not hesitating to cut gas supply to customers who were already battling against energy debt prior to the pandemic and are now in deeper trouble. However, this supply-cut threat concerns a small percentage of customers.

Gas suppliers have yet to turn to the government for support measures, as was the case in the electricity sector. However, they may end up needing help in the form of low-interest loans, support mechanisms and other financial tools if the country’s tourism industry suffers a major setback this coming summer, as is feared.

Zenith and EPA Attiki (Fysiko Aerio) hold an 85.39 percent overall share of the country’s retail gas markets equipped with distribution networks – wider Athens area, Thessaloniki and Thessaly – data processed by energypress showed. Zenith leads with 46.14 percent and EPA Attiki follows with 39.25 percent.

EPA Thess, a former monopoly covering Thessaloniki and Thessaly, has lost approximately 15 percent of its market share to newly emerged rivals, the data showed. KEN, the biggest gainer, has captured 5.25 percent and is followed by Protergia (3.1%), Elpedison (1.91%), NRG (1.35%), Heron (1.05%), Watt+Volt (0.75%) and EFA (0.76%).

Revythoussa at full capacity in May, 10 LNG orders scheduled

A total of nine LNG shipments are scheduled to be delivered to the Revythoussa islet terminal just off Athens in May, taking the facility to full capacity for yet another month, data provided by gas grid operator DESFA has shown.

Three LNG tankers are scheduled to bring in three big orders for a total of ten recipients in May.

The inflow has already begun. Last week, the Maran Gas Ulysses, a tanker belonging to the Aggelikousis group, imported 149,254 cubic meters for four buyers, Motor Oil, Heron, gas utility DEPA and Mytilineos, whose share, 74,627 cubic meters, was the biggest.

The next shipment, scheduled to be delivered to the Revythoussa terminal on May 20 by the Gaslog tanker belonging to the Livanos group, will deliver 147,710 cubic meters of LNG for Elpedison and power utility PPC, taking the bigger share of the two buyers, 127,031 cubic meters.

A third and final LNG shipment for the month is scheduled to arrive May 31 on the British Saphire tanker, owned by BP. This vessel will bring in 121,123 cubic meters of LNG for DEPA and Elpedison, the bigger of the two buyers with a 64,993 cubic-meter order.

A total of five big LNG shipments are expected in June for orders placed by Mytilineos, Elpedison and DEPA.

Continual flow of LNG imports reshaping gas market

LNG is continuing to enter the Greek market through gas grid operator DESFA’s Revythoussa terminal just off Athens at a continual and elevated flow that is reshaping the overall gas market.

The Mytilineos group was the market leader in the first quarter, capturing a market share of more than 40 percent of gas imported into Greece either via the Revythoussa LNG terminal or pipeline infrastructure.

Gas utility DEPA, a more subdued LNG player in the first quarter as a result of take-or-pay costs linked to the company’s pipeline gas orders with Russia’s Gazprom and Turkey’s Botas, registered a first-quarter market share of approximately 30 percent.

Elpedison, propelled by the increased use of its gas-fueled power stations, captured a higher share of 15 percent.

The Greek gas market’s remaining 15 percent was shared by Prometheus Gas, power utility PPC and Heron.

PPC’s gas market share is expected to increase over the coming months as it has placed LNG orders via the Revythoussa terminal.

 

Rising LNG imports reshaping gas market, led by Mytilineos

The drastic reduction of LNG price levels in recent times has not only boosted the amount of LNG imports into Greece but also reshaped market shares held by domestic gas traders.

Last year, natural gas consumption rose to a new record level of more than 60 TWh, up from 52.4 TWh in 2018 and 53.7 TWh in 2017.

LNG imports rose sharply to 30.92 TWh in 2019 from 11.59 TWh in 2018 and 15.54 TWh in 2017.

Overall gas consumption increased by approximately 15 percent last year while LNG import levels nearly tripled compared to two years earlier.

For the first time ever, LNG represented half of the country’s total gas consumption in 2019.

In 2019, a total of six traders imported LNG to the Revythoussa terminal, close to Athens, some of these for the first time.

Mytilineos made the most LNG shipments for a 50.2 percent share. Gas utility DEPA followed with a 26.1 percent. Elpedison was next with a 12.4 percent market share, trailed by power utility PPC (7.6%), Heron (2.4%) and Motor Oil (0.4%).

Market leader Mytilineos imported a total of ten LNG shipments to the Revythoussa terminal in 2019, some of these originating from the US, via Shell and BP, managing US shale gas exports.

A total of six LNG shipments to Greece in 2019 carried American shale gas. This trend is continuing this year. A 140,000 cubic-meter shipment of American LNG arrived at the Revythoussa terminal on January 25.

Mytilineos also chartered large-scale Q Flex tankers to Revythoussa in 2019, a development enabled by the completion of upgrade work at the LNG facility.

The Q Flex tankers, built in Qatar and offering a 201,000 cubic-meter capacity, were previously unable to approach the Greek terminal.

 

RAE to change LNG terminal rules following congestion

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided to shape a new regulatory framework for gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, attributing recent congestion problems at the unit that have left companies without slots for 2020 to an outdated legal framework from 2011 no longer serving new market needs, energypress sources have informed.

The authority is expecting proposals from DESFA before it starts shaping a new regulatory framework for the LNG terminal. The new framework, whose details remain unknown, will not apply in 2020 but is planned for 2021.

Lawmakers behind the set of rules shaped nearly a decade ago viewed LNG as a supplementary fuel, but it has taken on a far more significant role in the Greek energy market over the past few years, the sources noted.

Stronger LNG demand expressed by major-scale consumers and energy groups has been driven by increased global LNG output and significantly lower prices compared to pipeline gas.

Companies left without slots on DESFA’s finalized unloading plan for 2020, just announced, will eventually secure places during the year as other qualifiers have overstated their slot requirements and will make resulting vacant capacities available, the sources said.

According to the finalized unloading plan, the Mytilineos group will import a total of 22 LNG shipments in 2020, beginning January 1, Elpedison has planned an equivalent number of shipments, gas utility DEPA has scheduled 14, including Algerian contracts, while Heron has scheduled five shipments.

Power utility PPC and Motor Oil Hellas, both importing LNG shipments through the Revythoussa terminal in 2019, have been left out.

 

No changes to LNG unloading plan for 2020, PPC, Motor Oil both miss out

Gas grid operator DESFA has announced a finalized unloading plan for 2020 at the Revythoussa LNG terminal without any changes to a temporary plan as participating players did not make any revisions to their initial requests for slots.

According to the finalized unloading plan, the Mytilineos group will import a total of 22 LNG shipments in 2020, beginning January 1, Elpedison has planned an equivalent number of shipments, gas utility DEPA has scheduled 14, including Algerian contracts, while Heron has scheduled five shipments.

Power utility PPC and Motor Oil Hellas, both importing LNG shipments through the Revythoussa terminal in 2019, have been left out of the facility’s unloading plan for 2020 as they failed to secure slots. Both companies have reacted firmly.

Players requesting bigger capacities are given priority, according to a DESFA formula, which remained largely unchanged, except for one revision, introducing tougher penalties for importers should they cancel capacity reservations.

Elpedison makes dynamic gas market move for 2020, Balkans also eyed

Elpedison’s strong turnout for gas grid operator DESFA’s annual reservation of LNG slots at the Revythoussa terminal just off Athens highlights the company’s strategic decision aiming for a leading role in the wholesale gas market, which it entered last year.

Elpedison has reserved 22 slots, roughly one-third of a total of 65 slots offered by DESFA for the terminal in 2020.

Mytilineos, the country’s biggest LNG importer, also booked 22 slots. Gas utility DEPA reserved 14 slots, while Heron booked seven slots.

Elpedison considers its involvement in the wholesale and retail gas markets just as important as its activities in the electricity market, chief executive Nikos Zahariadis underlined in comments to energypress. Elpedison will bolster its gas market presence in 2020, he added.

Storage and gasification capacity increases at the Revythoussa LNG terminal have played an instrumental role in helping liberalize Greece’s gas market. This development, along with lower-priced LNG, compared to pipeline gas, has created market prospects and opportunities. Elpedison operates two gas-fueled power plants.

Besides the Greek market, Elpedison, just like all other corporate groups importing and trading gas, also sees opportunities in Balkan markets. The company already sells modest gas quantities in Bulgaria and Romania but is aiming for a significant increase in 2020.

Greece is developing into a gas hub for supply to the wider southeast European region, Zahariadis, Elpedison’s chief executive, noted. Major international gas infrastructure projects such as the TAP, IGB, Alexandroupoli FSRU and underground gas storage facility in the offshore South Kavala region are expected to be completed within the next few years, he stressed.

 

Suppliers face tougher times, NOME benefits ending

The termination of NOME auctions in Greece leaves independent suppliers with enough lower-cost wholesale electricity to fully cover their needs until the end of the year but the subsequent gradual change of market conditions can be expected to begin taking effect as of January when the suppliers start being exposed to the wholesale market.

By March, 2020, suppliers will be fully exposed to the System Marginal Price (SMP), practically meaning the sector’s course will depend on the course of the wholesale market.

If LNG prices remain low to contain the SMP level, then independent retail electricity suppliers should avoid losses despite their wholesale market exposure and, as a result, will be able to compete against the power utility PPC for market share gains.

For many companies, as much as 50 percent of their profitability has been derived from trading lower-cost NOME electricity, primarily as an export product to neighboring markets. In certain cases, significant profits earned through this trading activity enabled aggressive pricing policies in the domestic market, especially the mid-voltage category.

The new market conditions will make electricity export activity more challenging as earnings will be lower. Greater exposure to SMP risk will create problems. The triggering of SMP clauses will require consumers to pay greater amounts and independent suppliers will be less competitive against PPC.

An increase of the SMP level would put some suppliers who have offered relatively low-cost mid-voltage supply contracts in the unpleasant position of needing to maintain supply to customers at below-cost levels. Mid-voltage prices offered by independent suppliers have risen in recent times but are still below those of PPC.

The tougher conditions amid a fluid market of more than 20 retail suppliers in electricity and gas – of which no more than 12 hold market shares of consideration – promise to narrow down the field.

Three takeover and merger agreements have already been reached over the past year or so, beginning with Motor Oil’s acquisition of NRG, followed by a transfer of Green’s client list to Heron, and, just days ago, Volton’s acquisition of KEN.

 

 

 

Flurry of activity at Revythoussa LNG terminal over next two months

A flurry of LNG import activity planned through the Revythoussa islet terminal, just off Athens, in September and October, highlights the strong interest maintained by Greek energy companies in this energy source.

The country’s total of five players have all made arrangements to import large and small LNG shipments via Revythoussa during this two-month period, gas grid operator DESFA has announced.

Mytilineos has placed the biggest order, an LNG shipment of approximately 0.5 bcm, expected in October.

The second-biggest LNG order was made by gas utility DEPA, a 0.282-bcm quantity resulting from the utility’s long-running association with Sonatrach for Algerian supply.

Elpedison and Heron have each programed LNG shipments of 148,000 cubic meters, their respective arrivals scheduled for September 12 and 24.

Prometheus Gas has ordered 45,000 cubic meters of LNG for  September 27.

New gas-fired units reshaping electricity generation sector

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grid prepared for demand peak of first heatwave this summer

Given the day-ahead market’s indications, the country’s first heatwave of this summer, expected to increase temperatures to levels of between 37 and 38 degrees Celsius today and tomorrow, should not cause any problems for the grid.

The system is prepared for daily demand levels of 150,760 MWh at a System Marginal Price (SMP), or wholesale price, of 73.549 euros per MWh.

Renewable energy is programmed to cover 21,584 MWh of daily demand and hydropower facilities a further 8,156 MWh.

As for the country’s lignite-fired power stations, power utility PPC’s Kardia II, III and IV, Agios Dimitrios III and IV and Megalopoli III and IV will all be called into action.

So, too, will gas-fueled power stations operated by PPC and private-sector electricity producers (Aliveri V, Lavrio IV and V, Megalopoli V, Heron, ENTHES, Protergia, Corinth Power).

Electricity exports totaling 21,350 MWh have also been planned. Demand is forecast to peak at 2pm, reaching a level of 7,622 MW.

In a statement released yesterday, Greek gas utility DEPA ascertained the country’s gas needs will be covered this summer, as will supply needs for customers in Greece and Bulgaria.

Total gas demand in Greece last year between June 15 and August 15 reached 8.1 TWh and is expected to rise to 9.2 TWh for the equivalent period this summer, according to DEPA.

Gas grid operator DESFA’s incoming LNG shipments for this period this summer will amount to 7.3 TWh, dramatically up from a 2.4 TWh total unloaded at the Revythoussa terminal on the islet off Athens during the summer period last year, according to the operator.

 

 

Heron, seeking improved retail presence, plans 15 outlets in 12 months

Energy retailer Heron plans to have established a retail network of 15 company-owned outlets, three of these in Athens, the others throughout Greece, over the next twelve months, company officials have announced.

The plan reflects a wider market trend through which the country’s independent suppliers are opening stores of their own rather than relying on retail outlet collaborations with other firms, primarily mobile telephony companies, for market exposure.

Greek market consumers have rated as positive the prospect of being able to have direct contact with energy suppliers through retail outlets of their own, market research conducted by Heron has shown, company officials noted.

The benefits of the move are expected to eventually outweigh the high cost of maintaining a retail network, Heron officials anticipate.

“Under normal conditions, such an investment would not be justified, but the sector is still acquiring shape and Heron is a company that has decided it wants to play a leading role,” company head Giorgos Kouvaris told energypress, adding the move will bolster the brand name and customer services offered.

An EU-imposed GDPR personal data protection regulation has limited the ability of independent energy retailers to seek new customers over the phone.

 

PPC, State blamed for power market’s competition rut

Independent electricity producer and supplier representatives participating in yesterday’s Power & Gas Supply Forum in Athens have attributed the lack of progress in an ongoing effort to fully liberalize Greece’s electricity market to a lack of political will and a variety of decisions that have helped the state-controlled main power utility PPC maintain its dominant market position.

“Neither the State nor PPC want the market to be opened up,” Dinos Benroubi, the Mytilineos group’s energy division chief, one of many highly-ranked officials representing independent electricity producers and suppliers at yesterday’s event, told the forum.

His comments sum up complaints expressed by various officials who sought to explain why the domestic electricity market has been unable to truly open up to competition, despite years of related legislative amendments and private-sector investments in the energy domain.

PPC has continued to maintain a culture of tolerance that has enabled customers to avoid repercussions for not paying bills on time, which, by extension, has stopped PPC from servicing its required payments to the market, Benroubi pointed out.

“Competitors can’t attract new customers amid market conditions such as these,” the Mytilineos group official supported.

Remarks offered by the Heron energy company’s Giorgos Kouvaris were just as scathing. “Our market is appropriately designed to not be able to open up under any government. Any investors who have moved against the market [forces] have suffered bad outcomes,” Kouvaris noted.

Unfair burdens persevered by electricity producers as a result of various market distortions; an inconsistent regulatory framework affecting investments; lack of competition in electricity production; and the failure of PPC’s pricing policy to reflect costs, were among other factors cited by forum participants as problems obstructing the market from opening up.

 

Elpedison set to begin importing gas via Bulgarian link in 2019

Energy firm Elpedison has finalized all details, including grid capacity reservations, to begin importing natural gas into Greece as of 2019 via the Greek-Bulgarian interconnection, according to sources.

The company’s move, promising to add Elpedison to a growing number of major domestic energy players engaging in cross-border natural gas trade, aims to improve the firm’s supply mix and bolster its portfolio.

Elpedison is expected to begin importing at levels of 500 MWh with a view to increasing amounts.

Besides the gas utility DEPA, three private-sector players, Promitheas – a member of the Copelouzos group – Mytilineos and Heron, are already importing natural gas through the Greek-Bulgarian border.

The Greek-Bulgarian border was opened for natural gas trade in 2017 following agreements signed by the respective gas grid operators of the two countries.

Elpedison’s turn to natural gas follows its already heightened level of cross-border electricity trading activity, reaching as far as central Europe and Hungary.

Elpedison, on a positive course, is expected to end 2018 with favorable EBITDA results.

 

Consumer supplier shifts slowed down in 2017

The rate of consumer shifts to alternate electricity suppliers slowed down in 2017 even though the total number of consumers leaving the main power utility PPC for independent suppliers nearly doubled during the same year, representing just 4.7 percent of the country’s low and medium-voltage connections, according to an annual market report published by RAE, the the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

A total of 186,446 low and medium-voltage consumers switched electricity suppliers in 2017, or 2.81 percent of the total, according to the RAE report. This represents a 78 percent increase compared to 2016, when 104,775 household and business consumers decided to change electricity supplier.

In 2016, the increase in the number of consumers shifting suppliers grew at a far greater rate of 263 percent, compared to 2015, when just 28,832 consumers changed suppliers.

The slowdown in the number of supplier changes has been attributed to a  growing number of consumers settling at suppliers of their choice as well as the decreased number of customers leaving PPC as a result of its 15 percent discount offer for punctual payment of electricity bills.

The highest level of mobility was registered in the medium-voltage category, the number reaching 801 from a total of 10,331 consumers, or 7.75 percent.

In the low-voltage category, 185,645 consumers of 6,620,702 in total, or 2.8 percent, switched electricity suppliers in 2017.

PPC lost 143,842 low and medium-voltage customers in 2017 for a resulting customer base of 6,319,123 and remained the dominant supplier with a 95.3 percent share in these categories, according to the RAE data.

Protergia led the list of independent suppliers with 81,796 consumers. Elpedison and Heron made up the top three with respective customer totals of 76,161 and 51,348.

 

 

 

Cretan energy alert the focus, new IPTO-Euroasia meeting

The energy ministry and RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, are currently focused on delivering measures to counter Crete’s energy sufficiency alert between 2020 and 2022, when the island’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens is planned to be developed.

At the same time, the power grid operator IPTO and the Euroasia Interconnector consortium – responsible for the wider Euroasia Interconnector, a PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete – will make yet another attempt to reach an agreement on the Cretan link at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

The two sides have vied to secure control of the large-scale Cretan link with Athens. This dispute has delayed the project’s development. A smaller-scale Cretan link is planned to link the island with the Peloponnese.

Pundits see little chance of a compromise between IPTO and the Euroasia Interconnector consortium at Monday’s meeting. If so, RAE may award the Cretan major-scale interconnection’s development to IPTO, with conditions attached, next week.  In this case, IPTO would seek minority-stake partners for the establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to take on the project.

Crete faces a serious energy sufficiency threat as of 2020 as an exemption to EU law concerning power station emission limits for local high-polluting units, such as those operating on Crete, is set to expire in December, 2019. Completion of the island’s major-scale link stands no chance of being completed by 2020, authorities have warned.

In their attempt to resolve the issue, Greek officials are expected to forward a request to the European Commission for some of the main power utility PPC’s diesel-fueled power stations on Crete to be temporarily exempted from the EU’s strict anti-pollution directives, sources informed.

Cretan power stations currently generating 601 MW of the island’s 813 MW in electricity production will need to stop operating in 2020, according to the emission-limit rule imposed by Brussels.

To help counter the looming issue, RAE also appears to be moving ahead with procedures for the transfer to Crete of Heron I, a small 150-MW gas-fueled unit currently operated by the energy firm Heron in Thebes, slightly northwest of Athens. Heron I runs on two types of fuel, natural gas as the main fuel and diesel as a backup fuel. The unit’s transfer to Crete, sought by Heron, would help the Cretan energy sufficiency problem but not fully resolve it.

In addition, the smaller-scale Cretan link, planned to link the island with the Peloponnese via a submarine power cable whose capacity could be anywhere between 150 MW and 180 MW, will offer further support.

RAE could also examine staging RES auctions for the installation of renewable energy units on Crete, such as solar energy facilities, which can be swiftly set up, sources added.

 

 

 

Heron seeks extended license for power plant transfer to Crete

Energy firm Heron has requested improved terms for a license granted by RAE (Regulatory Authority for Energy) in 2017 permitting the firm to relocate a natural gas-fueled power station from provincial Thebes, slightly northwest of Athens, to Crete, as the energy group believes the initial terms offered do not ensure the power station’s sustainability, energypress sources have informed.

The firm’s planned Cretan move comes in anticipation of energy sufficiency problems expected to affect the island as of 2020, when some older power stations operating on the island will need to be shut down permanently as a current exemption to EU law concerning power station emission limits for local high-polluting units, such as those operating on Crete, is set to expire in December, 2019.

Heron is primarily seeking a longer-lasting production license on Crete for Heron 1, a gas-fueled unit located on the outskirts of Thebes, as an extension would justify the costs entailed in moving the power station to Crete.

Heron also intends to install an FSRU (floating LNG terminal) on Crete for gas supply to the Heron I power station, planned to be relocated to Atherinolakos, in the island’s southeast.

An existing main power utility PPC diesel-fueled power station also operating in this area will also be able to be supplied by the FSRU.

Heron’s Cretan plan will also enable the development of a small-scale gas network for supply to big and small industrial facilities.

Greece’s first privately owned power station, Heron I, which emerged in 2004, is comprised of three open-cycle gas turbines and has a total capacity of 150 MW. Located next to Heron II, the firm’s more recent power station, Heron I runs on two types of fuel, natural gas as the main fuel and diesel as a backup fuel.

RAE is examining Heron’s request as part of a wider effort to counter Crete’s energy shortage dangers as of 2020.

 

 

Engie imports gas from north for Heron, Gazprom not involved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

PPC supply drop contained despite major decline in overall demand

The decline in main power utility PPC’s electricity supply level was subdued in January and February despite the market’s significant drop in demand, monthly data supplied by IPTO, the power grid operator, has shown.

Electricity demand fell by 5.6 percent during the first two months of 2018 compared to the equivalent period a year earlier. Last winter’s prolonged cold weather was a major factor. Most of the drop (4.5% of the 5.6%) occurred during the month of January.

PPC supplied 3,944 GWh in January from a total of 4,631 GWh and 3,444.2 GWh in February from a total of 4,074 GWh, according to the IPTO data.

Elpedison was ranked second, well below PPC, with 160.5 GWh in January and 143.2 GWh in February. Mytilineos closely followed in third place with 152.2 GWh in January and 136.7 GWh in February. Heron was ranked fourth, well above the rest of the pack of independent players, with 147.4 GWh in January and 135.6 GWh in February.

 

 

 

 

PPC retail market share dip in January ends utility’s fourth quarter rise

The main power utility PPC’s retail electricity market share dipped in January, ending an upward trajectory experienced in the previous year’s final quarter, energypress sources have informed.

PPC’s retail electricity market share at the end of January slipped to 85 percent from 85.4 percent in December, according to the sources. The utility captured an 84.21 percent share in November, up from 83.21 percent in October.

The power utility’s slight market share drop, combined with the moderately promising price level reached at the year’s first of four NOME auctions two days ago, provides some hope for increased electricity market competition in 2018 and consumer shifts to independent suppliers.

Official end-of-December data showed that Elpedison headed the pack of independent suppliers with a retail electricity market share of 3.4 percent, down from 3.72 percent in November. Mytilineos followed with 3.36 percent, from November’s 3.57 percent. Heron was ranked third with 3.19 percent, from 3.79 percent in November.

Electricity market competition alive despite restrictions

Though the main interest in retail electricity market data released on a monthly basis by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, and IPTO, the power grid operator, is generally focused on the market shares held by main power utility PPC and rival independent suppliers, a closer look at the data provides insight into various trends.

The leeway offered to independent suppliers for market share gains may be limited, for a variety of reasons, as was recently reported by energypress, but, in spite of these limitations, PPC is steadily losing about one percent of its market share every month.

Competition is not waning as a result of the limited leeway offered to independent suppliers. On the contrary, these suppliers are moving to expand their client bases through carefully thought out moves.

PPC’s slower-than-expected overall market share reduction, now at about 85 percent, is greatly connected to market shares held in high and medium-voltage supply. LAGIE data shows that PPC’s market share in the high-voltage market rose from 10.09 percent in January to 14.45 percent in May.

In the mid-voltage market, involving major-scale enterprises consuming major electricity amounts, PPC’s market share fell from 18.78 percent in January to 16.79 percent in May. Among the major independent suppliers, Heron leads with 2.43 percent in May, up from 1.5 percent in January, and is followed by Protergia, up to 2.27 percent in May from 1.34 percent in January. Next in the rankings, Elpedison’s share reached 1.88 percent in May from 1.07 percent in January.

Interestingly, none of the independent suppliers registered a high-voltage market share decline between the months of April and May, the LAGIE data showed. Overall, independent suppliers gained 0.97 percent in the high-voltage category compared to PPC’s surrender of 0.25 percent between April and May.

NOME auction electricity amounts and prices offered as well as other factors such as PPC’s 15 percent discount offered to punctual customers and this corporation’s soft approach towards customers with arrears have helped the still-dominant utility maintain a firm grasp of the market, analysts have noted.