DEPA Commercial gas storage in Italy, Bulgaria, 200,000 MWh

DEPA Commercial has stored away, at facilities in neighboring Bulgaria and Italy, natural gas quantities for a total of 200,000 MWh, slightly less than one third of the 622,440 MWh the company is expected to store through a Preventive Action Plan established by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

DEPA Commercial began its effort by storing natural gas at Bulgaria’s Chiren facility and, over the past 15 days or so, has also been storing away gas quantities in Italy.

DEPA Commercial, like all main gas suppliers licensed to use the country’s gas network, is expected to make these gas reserves available for all of the upcoming winter period, or, more specifically, from November to March.

These gas reserve amounts stocked up through the Preventive Action Plan are planned to play a protective role should Moscow make changes to deliveries of pipeline gas quantities.

Gas suppliers whose imports represent no more than 1 percent of the country’s total gas imports have been exempted from RAE’s gas storage requirement.

DEPA Commercial is Greece’s biggest gas importer, requiring the company to establish gas reserves for 622,440 MWh. The top three include Mytilineos, which must store away gas for 267,900 MWh and Promitheas Gas with 137,940 MWh.

 

No EU decision seen today for cap on Russian gas prices

At least ten EU member states oppose singling out Russia for a cap on its gas prices, warning that such a move could push Russian president Vladimir Putin to cut supplies to Europe completely, the Financial Times has reported.

The EU countries opposing action against Russia, alone, including Greece, Italy and Poland, want caps on gas prices for all suppliers.

The lack of consensus on a gas price cap means that the proposal is not expected to lead to a decision at today’s emergency meeting of EU energy ministers.

“Quite frankly the Russians will probably retaliate on this,” Nikos Tsafos, chief energy adviser to Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told the Financial Times.

“Europe should have a loud voice and impose a reasonable price,” said Italy’s energy transition minister Roberto Cingolani, saying he too preferred a general cap. “It is a perfect storm against our citizens and companies.”

Moscow has threatened to stop all gas supply to Europe should the EU impose a gas price cap. Russian gas supplies to the bloc have been cut by about 80 per cent to about 84mn cubic meters a day since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

 

 

European resolve for crisis solution containing gas prices

The growing resolve of European officials to find solutions that could contain gas prices is already producing results, as highlighted by a significant price reduction of just over 30 percent over the past week.

Germany appears to have changed stance by joining EU member states of the south in their call for a cap on natural gas, now being examined by the European Commission following a delay of many months.

Germany’s public admission that a single European solution is needed to counter the energy crisis, an acknowledgment coming after the country previously blocked proposals forwarded by Europe’s south, has swiftly impacted energy markets.

Yesterday’s news of a new Russian gas supply disruption through Nord Stream I, under the pretext of maintenance requirements, did not prompt a further increase in gas prices, as would be expected, but, instead, resulted in a price reduction. The TTF index fell yesterday to 239 euros per MWh, down from a record level of 346 euros per MWh on August 26, a 31 percent drop over the one-week period.

This reduction has filtered through to today’s wholesale electricity prices around Europe. They fell to 635 euros per MWh in France, 571 euros per MWh in Germany, 661 euros per MWh in Italy, and 582 euros per MWh in Greece and Bulgaria. The price level for Greece is approximately 100 euros lower compared to yesterday.

 

Greek-Italian grid link repair work subduing power prices

The Greek-Italian grid interconnection’s temporary disruption for repair work is offering partial protection against wholesale electricity price increases in Greece.

The temporary-closure period for the grid interconnection, which has been sidelined towards both directions since August 19, has just been extended until September 3 following a request made by Italy’s power grid operator Terna, according to an announcement made by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator.

Last Friday and Saturday, the wholesale electricity price was 300 euros per MWh higher in Italy compared to Greece.

Under normal conditions, price differences between neighboring markets prompts electricity export activity towards the lower-priced country.

Greek electricity exports were considerable in July, reaching 500 GWh, data provided by IPTO showed. Of this total, 351 GWh was exported to Italy, 253 GWh to Albania, 184 GWh to North Macedonia and 90 GWh to Bulgaria.

Electricity export figures will be subdued in August as a result of the disruption of the Greek-Italian grid interconnection. The link has been closed down for repairs on numerous occasions in recent years.

 

 

European gas storage units nearly 70% full, on course for October target

Europe’s gas storage facilities are estimated to be close to 70 percent full in early August, according to data provided by Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), representing the continent’s gas infrastructure operators.

Europe’s gas storage units continued being filled at a rapid rate in late July, despite the reduction of Gazprom’s gas supply through the Nord Stream I pipeline, now operating at just 20 percent of capacity.

Given the continent’s current gas storage levels, European authorities are confident an 80 percent objective can be achieved by early October. However, storage level discrepancies between EU member states remains a challenge that needs to be dealt with.

German gas storage units are now 70 percent full, while the level in Italy is higher, at 73 percent. On the contrary, gas storage facility levels are far lower elsewhere, registering 48 percent in Bulgaria, 24 percent in Ukraine and 53 percent in Croatia.

FSU at Revythoussa LNG unit, Italy storage solution advances

An FSU has been licensed and installed at gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, boosting the facility’s overall capacity to 370,000 cubic meters.

The new floating storage unit’s installation at the Revythoussa terminal comes as part of the country’s energy security effort for protection should Russia disrupt its gas supply. In addition, it will also be used to serve the needs of neighboring countries.

Other steps are also being taken as part of the national energy security plan.

Greek and Italian officials have reached an advanced stage in talks for maintenance of Greek gas reserves at 1.14 TWh at an underground storage facility in the neighboring country. According to sources, the two sides are set to sign a related Memorandum of Cooperation.

The European Commission requires all EU member states without – or without sufficient – natural gas storage facilities, such as Greece, to store by November 1, gas quantities representing 15 percent of annual consumption at existing storage facilities maintained by fellow member states.

Electricity producers operating generators with dual combustion units (natural gas and diesel) are soon expected to take part in an energy ministry meeting to examine fuel-storage issues. This session could take place tomorrow.

 

 

Wholesale power price reaches new record level, €466/MWh today

The wholesale electricity market’s day-ahead market price has reached a new record level of 466 euros per MWh for Monday, up from 426 euros per MWh on Friday.

The maximum price has soared to 686 euros, while the minimum price is at 261 euros, demand close to 202 GWh.

Natural gas represents 43.1 percent of the energy mix, followed by renewables (23%), lignite (13%), hydropower (9.5%) and imports (8%).

As for the country’s neighbors, the wholesale electricity price is at 460 euros in Bulgaria and 527 euros in Italy.

 

Tourism boom revenue will help fund winter’s energy subsidies

The Greek tourism industry’s strong revenue figures being generated this summer, which could exceed those of the record-breaking summer of 2019 if July’s heightened activity is sustained through August, will prove invaluable in financing energy subsidies needed in coming months.

At the current rate, Greece’s tourism industry could contribute between 19 and 20 billion euros to the budget, well over the budget forecast of 16 to 17 billion euros.

International authorities, including Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, are warning of even tougher times ahead.

European countries greatly dependent on Russian natural gas are scrambling for solutions ahead of next winter. Germany is seeking nuclear-energy assistance from France. Chancellor Olaf Scholtz has reiterated energy prices will remain high for some time yet. Italian energy company Enel has warned customers that it cannot guarantee gas and electricity prices will continue to be offered under current agreements.

Latest calculations indicate that Greece’s electricity bill subsidies for households and businesses could soon exceed one billion euros per month.

The country’s electricity subsidy cost for August is expected to greatly exceed July’s figure of 722 million euros, which was based on a cost of 240 euros per MWh, now over 300 euros per MWh.

 

Europe on edge as Russia limits supply, fiscal revisions needed

Emergency measures are being prepared around Europe, confronting reduced Russian gas supplies and fearing even greater cuts. It remains a mystery if the Nord Steam I gas pipeline – linking Russia with Germany, and by extension, other markets – will reopen on July 21. The pipeline was shut yesterday for a 10-day period to undergo maintenance, according to Russian officials.

Anything is possible from July 21 onwards. Russian gas supply through Nord Steam I could increase or may dry up completely.

In response, German officials are preparing to reactivate coal-fired power stations to make up for energy-source insufficiencies prompted by Russia’s reduced gas supply, while, energy-consumption restrictions, including an order urging household members to take fewer hot showers, could also be introduced, if needed.

In France, industries are turning to oil for energy, while Italian oil and gas company ENI has announced Gazprom will cut its gas supply by a further one third.

In Greece, the fiscal pressure caused by the months-long energy crisis, exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine, is seen resulting in a budget deficit of 2 percent in 2022. A fiscal adjustment will be needed to transform this deficit into a 1 percent primary surplus in 2023.

Such a fiscal improvement, however, may not be possible given the current gas and electricity price levels. The government’s electricity-bill subsidy support for consumers is costing between 800 million and one billion euros a month.

 

Italian gas storage up to 2 TWh from October for 5 months

Greek authorities are taking steps to prepare for a gas-storage solution ahead of next winter in neighboring Italy, in accordance with EU rules, requiring all member states without – or without sufficient – natural gas storage facilities, such as Greece, to store, by November 1, gas quantities representing 15 percent of annual consumption, based on last year’s level, at existing storage facilities maintained by fellow member states.

Based on this requirement and the country’s consumption level last year, Greece will need to store a total of approximately 900 million cubic meters of gas, or 8 TWh, of which up to 2 TWh will be stored at Italian facilities from October for a five-month period.

Storage costs for such a quantity are expected to reach 250 million euros, under favorable conditions.

A related proposal forwarded by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will undergo consultation before final decisions on the country’s gas storage plan are made.

 

Minister: ‘Revythoussa FSU launch by end of this month’

An FSU installation at the Revythoussa LNG terminal on the islet just off Athens will begin operating by the end of this month, energy minister Kostas Skrekas has told an Economist conference.

This LNG’s resulting capacity boost, combined with the development of northeastern Greece’s Alexandroupoli FSRU, now under construction, will upgrade the country’s gasification capacity to 15 bcm annually, a level ensuring Greece’s energy sufficiency as well as supply of quantities to neighboring countries.

Greek gas exports to Bulgaria are already covering as much as 80 percent of the neighboring country’s daily gas needs.

Skrekas, at the conference, also made note of Greece’s potential as a gas and green energy hub in the region. Interconnection projects with neighboring countries will play a pivotal role.

Greece’s plans include upgrading a connection with Albania within the next few years, as well as electricity interconnections with Bulgaria and Italy. In addition, a prospective electricity grid interconnection with Egypt promises to facilitate the transportation of up to 3 GW from the north African country to Greece and, by extension, the rest of Europe.

The minister also made note of the IGB pipeline to be inaugurated this Friday by prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ahead of its launch by the end of the month.

Greek, Italian PMs to reiterate call for EU price cap on wholesale gas

The leaders of Greece and Italy will once again call for an EU-wide cap on wholesale gas prices, this time as an even more urgent measure given Russia’s latest gas-supply cuts to Europe, at a summit of EU leaders beginning today.

However, it remains unclear if Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi can convince fellow EU member state leaders to join them for a wider European front favoring the cap.

The two leaders will not be entering the summit talks with high expectations as their cause has not been included on the summit’s agenda of topics to be discussed. Even so, the cap issue is expected to be discussed tomorrow, given the latest surge in energy prices.

The Greek and Italian leaders are expected to highlight the alarming rise of natural gas over the past ten days, up 50 percent, as well as yesterday’s dire warning by Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, telling Europe to prepare for a full disruption of Russian natural gas.

Mitsotakis, the Greek leader, had also called for a cap on wholesale gas prices in March.

Authorities in Italy, one of Europe’s most dependent countries on Russian energy sources, have announced that they are examining an emergency plan, including electricity and gas use restrictions for households, businesses and industry, if Gazprom does not resume regular gas supply to the country, cut by half just days ago.

Slovakia has also reported receiving less than half of the usual volumes. France has informed it had received no Russian gas from Germany since mid-June, but the country is getting supplies from elsewhere.

Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland have already had their Russian gas deliveries suspended after refusing a demand to pay in Russian roubles.

 

Lower-cost gas storage option for 15% of annual use sought

The energy ministry is seeking lower-cost solutions to satisfy a European Commission order requiring all EU member states without – or without sufficient – natural gas storage facilities, such as Greece, to store by November 1, gas quantities representing 15 percent of annual consumption at existing storage facilities maintained by fellow member states.

A 15 percent proportion of Greece’s annual gas consumption represents approximately 900 million cubic meters. Its supply cost, alone, is worth roughly 700 million euros, based on current prices.

Besides the cost concerns expressed by energy ministry officials over an idea to use Italian storage facilities, companies active in Greece’s wholesale gas market are also troubled.

The head official of one domestic gas wholesaler described the cost of moving ahead with the Italian plan as forbiddingly high, adding that it would be far more preferable to rent as many additional floating storage units as are needed for mooring at Greece’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

Unclear EU stance on Moscow’s ruble payment demand for gas

The European Commission appears to be deliberately maintaining an unclear stance on Moscow’s demand for natural gas supply payments in the ruble currency, an in-between position that presently enables European companies to abide by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s related decree without breaching EU sanctions imposed on Russia.

Yesterday’s EU council meeting of energy ministers for a common European stance on Russia’s ruble-currency payment demand for Gazprom natural gas failed to produce an agreement, instead maintaining the ambiguity that has hovered in recent weeks.

European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson reiterated that payments for Russian natural gas in the ruble currency would represent a violation of European sanctions on Russia, and, as a result would not be accepted. However, she did not offer specific advice on how European companies should make their payments for Russian natural gas when the next round of payments are due. Simson ascertained that clearer directions would soon be issued, without specifying when.

Italian minister for Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani has allegedly supported that European companies must be given the ability, at least temporarily, to conform to Russia’s payment demands, according to a Politico report.

However, the Italian government has denied that Rome is preparing to make ruble-currency gas payments to Russia, describing the Politico reports as misleading.

 

 

 

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.

FSRU at LNG terminal, Italy storage, lignite use decided

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas has staged an emergency meeting with the country’s crisis management team to establish measures that would need to be implemented should Russia decide to disrupt its natural gas supply to Europe.

Gas grid operator DESFA will need to deliver a cost-benefit analysis to the ministry by tomorrow on a plan entailing the addition of an FSRU at the Revythoussa islet LNG terminal, just off Athens, as a capacity-boosting move.

In addition, the operator has until Tuesday to report back to the ministry on the progress of its talks with Italy’s SNAM aiming to reserve storage capacity at the neighboring country’s underground gas storage (UGS) facilities.

DESFA must also update its estimate on additional LNG shipments that would be required in Greece if Russia disrupts its natural gas supply to Europe.

Gas company DEPA Commercial, Greece’s biggest gas importer, is closely monitoring the availability of LNG shipments in international markets in order to secure additional shipments, if this is deemed necessary.

Furthermore, power utility PPC will forward, by Tuesday, to the energy ministry, its annual lignite extraction plan for continual operation of its available lignite-fired power stations.

 

 

 

 

Europe on edge, tested by Putin’s ruble payment demand

Tension in Europe has risen with signs of disorientation emerging over Russian president Vladimir Putin’s demand for ruble-currency payments to cover Russian natural gas supply.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz, according to Moscow, initially agreed on this payment term for Russian gas supply, but this was swiftly denied by the chancellery.

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi abruptly rejected Putin’s ruble-based payment plan for Russian gas supply, while Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called on Europe to impose an embargo on Moscow and follow his country’s example by stopping all Russian energy imports until the end of the year.

Europe is on high alert. Reliance on Russian energy reaches as high as 80 percent in Austria. Germany’s dependence on Russian energy is also high, at 55 percent.

Both countries have taken steps for gas rationing over the payment stand-off with Russia, fearing, like all of Europe, a halt in energy deliveries from Russia because of the dispute over payments.

Robert Habeck, Germany’s federal minister for economic affairs and climate action, has called on citizens to use electricity as moderately as possible.

Should Putin take the dreaded step and cut energy supply to Europe, distribution of existing natural gas reserves, as well as supply from non-Russian sources, will need to be prioritized, with preference for hospitals, power stations and crucial industries, needed to avoid economic collapse.

If European governments are forced to announce a state of emergency, an electricity rationing plan will need to be implemented for all households. The UK was forced to adopt such an extreme measure, for fuel, during the oil crisis in 1973.

In Greece, a halt in Russian natural gas supply would stop economic activity in just a few days. The country’s daily gas consumption reaches approximately 200,000 MWh, of which 115,000 MWh is supplied by Russia.

Additional LNG shipments in April; the mooring of an FSRU at the Revythoussa islet LNG terminal, just off Athens, for a capacity increase; full-capacity generation at the country’s lignite-fired power stations; as well as an agreement with Italy to ensure storage capacity at the neighboring country’s gas storage facilities, for strategic reserves, are all necessary steps ahead of next winter.

It remains to be seen if Russia’s war on Ukraine will carry on into summer and require extreme measures, or end soon, to the relief of all.

The TTF gas exchange ended trade yesterday at 118 euros per MWh. Wholesale electricity prices in Greece today are at 222.38 euros per MWh.

In comments offered during yesterday’s opening day of the two-day Power & Gas Forum staged by energypress, Pantelis Kapros, Professor of Energy Economics at the National Technical University of Athens, estimated that natural gas prices, even if the war were to end now, will average between 50 and 70 euros per MWh this year.

 

 

 

Sweden’s OX2 buys 500-MW RES portfolio, eyeing further moves

Swedish company OX2 has acquired wind and solar energy projects in Greece with a total capacity of 500 MW, a development that serves as a reminder of the steadily growing interest of European and international investors in the country’s RES market.

OX2 already possesses an extensive past in the Greek market, having collaborated with local companies to develop RES projects offering a total capacity in excess of 4 GW, the Swedish company has pointed out.

Further details on the deal’s seller, or sellers, have not been disclosed, but it is understood OX2’s acquisition concerns projects that are currently at different stages of development in various parts of Greece.

The Swedish company is preparing to assemble a team in Greece comprised of personnel from the Greek market as well as employees already with the company, sources have informed energypress.

OX2 plans to also examine further investment opportunities in the Greek market and is eyeing offshore wind farm, energy storage and hydrogen-related investments, a top-ranked company official has told energypress.

“Greece is a very interesting market for OX2. Approximately 20 percent of energy consumed is imported and 15TWh of lignite-fired power will be replaced by 2028,” noted Paul Stormoen, chief executive officer at OX2. “The country has strong sources, serious prospects for development of green energy projects, and plans to install over 5 GW in solar units and more than 3 GW in wind units by 2030. OX2 is aiming for a long-term presence and can accelerate the energy transition by utilizing its high expertise in the development of RES projects,” he continued.

Last year, OX2 formed subsidiaries in Romania and Italy and also developed a solar energy hub in Spain. The company is active in ten European markets.

 

South Kavala UGS tender’s final round not until early summer

The final round of privatization fund TAIPED’s tender for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north will not be held until early this summer following a latest deadline extension by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on consultation regarding the facility’s business pricing framework, sources closely following the project’s developments have informed energypress.

Prior to this deadline extension, the overall procedure was delayed by several months as a result of a disagreement between RAE and gas grid operator DESFA over supplementary investments that would enable the country’s grid to cater to the needs of the UGS.

Consultation for UGS pricing framework proposals and other details, including DESFA’s ten-year development plan, was to expire on March 14, but RAE has offered participants an extension until March 30.

It is believed RAE’s text forwarded for consultation has been deemed far from satisfactory by prospective investors. If no changes are made, the tender could fail to produce a result, despite its long duration.

Such a prospect threatens to leave Greece as Europe’s only country without a single UGS for many years to come.

Elsewhere, EU member states are rushing to fill their UGS facilities ahead of next winter, following an order issued by the European Commission as part of a plan to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.

The EU has a total of 170 UGS facilities, offering a total capacity of 4.2 trillion cubic metres. Germany tops the list with 60 facilities that represent 42 percent of the continent’s UGS capacity. France follows with 16 UGS facilities, Italy has 13 functional facilities and 7 under construction, while Romania has 8 UGS facilities and Bulgaria one.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

Physical delivery limit eased for bigger suppliers, except PPC

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has relaxed, as of 2022, a limit on bilateral agreements established by energy suppliers with market shares in excess of 4 percent, which restricted their physical deliveries to 20 percent of total sales, increasing this limit to 40 percent.

However, RAE has maintained the 20 percent limit for power utility PPC until the end of 2022.

RAE had imposed the 20 percent limit on bilateral agreements since the launch of the target model, before extending the measure through 2021.

Virtually all of the country’s vertically integrated energy suppliers have been subject to the restriction.

RAE, in announcing its revision of the limit, noted that new electricity markets have now been operating for a year, achieving sufficient liquidity in the day-ahead market but not in the futures market.

The authority also pointed out that single day-ahead coupling with the Italian and Bulgarian markets in December, 2020 and May, 2021, respectively, have led to satisfactory price-level convergence with southeast European markets.

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.

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.

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.

 

EU ministers to meet on carbon emission costs, causing alarm

The EU’s energy ministers plan to meet in Ljubljana Wednesday in search of a solution to counter the relentless rise in carbon emission right costs, which, for some time now, have reached elevated levels that hang as a dark cloud over energy consumers, hundreds of suppliers and Europe’s energy transition strategy, breeding increasing Euroscepticism.

Carbon emission rights have been stuck at levels of no less than 60 euros per ton, prompting allegations of manipulation.

Last week, the European Commission submitted to European Parliament the EU’s more ambitious climate-change package, “Fit for 55”, aiming for a 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. It is planned to lead to ETS mechanism revisions.

In response to accumulating messages of alarm from energy consumers and industrial enterprises from all over the continent, European MPs, at Wednesday’s meeting, are expected to push for stricter ETS rules.

Until now, governments of EU member states have been left to act independently for support measures whose extent is being determined by the capabilities of state budgets.

In Italy, the government, facing electricity cost increases of 40 percent, is lowering taxes linked to electricity bills. In France, low-income households stand to receive increased energy-cost coupon amounts, currently worth 150 euros annually.

The situation is far more dramatic in the UK. To date, seven electricity suppliers, under growing market pressure, have disrupted their operations, forcing over 600,000 customers to seek new suppliers. Bulb, one of the UK’s biggest electricity suppliers, serving 1.7 million customers, is on the verge of bankruptcy. A merger with a rival player is seen as the likeliest solution for this company.

 

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

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

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

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

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

First stage of Greek-Italian grid link feasibility study completed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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