PM: ‘Greece aiming to become energy exporter, energy security provider’

Greece is aspiring to become an energy exporter and energy security provider, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has told members of the national Japanese business organization KEIDANREN during an official visit to Japan, the first by a Greek leader in 17 years.

Mitsotakis, heading a Greek delegation on a visit aiming to attract Japanese investments, told KEIDANREN members Greece has a significant role to play in Europe’s new energy structure now being developed.

This role is based on new infrastructure transforming the country into an energy hub, Greece’s prospective provision of energy security to the wider region, ongoing hydrocarbon exploration efforts, as well as investments for an increased RES-sector share of the country’s energy mix, the Greek leader noted.

“We are investing heavily in regasification facilities, especially in northern Greece. And we aspire to become an energy exporter and an energy security provider, at least for our Balkan neighbors,” the Prime Minister noted. “For the first time, we are actively exploring for potential natural gas deposits southwest of Crete. The exploration is being led by ExxonMobil and the initial findings are very, very promising,” he added.

Greece is one of the world’s ten biggest RES electricity producers, Mitsotakis pointed out while commenting on the significant role the country has to play in the new RES landscape developing in Europe.

Japan possesses the world’s biggest fleet of LNG tankers, in terms of value, according to 2022 data provided by Vessels Value, an internationally recognized data platform for ship valuations.

Japan’s LNG fleet was worth 30.3 billion dollars last year, the world’s highest, followed by Greece, at 29.9 billion dollars and South Korea, at 17.1 billion euros, according to Vessels Value figures.


LNG order costs fall as much as 40% below TTF prices

The cost of LNG orders placed in recent days has fallen 10 to 40 percent below levels at the Dutch TTF exchange, driven lower by fine weather around Europe and subdued demand in Asia as a result of lockdown restrictions imposed over the past two months by authorities in China, insisting on a zero-Covid policy.

LNG price levels are also lower at the TTF exchange, easing to levels between 93.5 and 94 euros per MWh, the lowest since February.

Market pressure has also eased as a decision by Ukraine to disrupt a pipeline supplying Russian gas to Europe has had less negative impact than initially feared.

Ukraine’s decision, believed to have been taken to pressure the West for stricter sanctions against Russia, prompted Russia’s Gazprom to find a bypass solution through alternative routes to the EU.

These developments could lead to a significant reduction in wholesale electricity prices as a result of less price pressure faced by electricity producers.

The duration of China’s lockdown will greatly shape LNG market developments. For the time being, LNG orders that had been intended for China are being redirected to Europe.

Though supply to Asia has fallen considerably from high levels recorded just months ago, LNG demand typically increases in China, Japan and South Korea during summer.


LNG tankers reroute for Europe as prices soar on continent

Natural gas prices in Europe, well over price levels in Asia, are prompting LNG tankers to reroute mid-voyage and head for Europe as the gas supply crunch on the continent worsens.

Buyers in Asian countries have outbid Europeans for LNG shipments for much of the year, but with storage now full across Asia, uncommitted cargoes from the Atlantic basin that were heading for Asia are being turned round by their owners and sent to Europe to cash in on soaring prices and demand.

The ships carrying liquefied natural gas to Europe include the first Australian LNG tanker headed for the continent in a decade.

American LNG exports are expected to rise significantly in 2022, surpassing quantities exported by Qatar and Australia.

According to US agency EIA, the Energy Information Administration, American LNG exports will rise to 11.5 billion cubic feet annually in 2022, 22 percent of projected global demand.

The US is expected to maintain the leadership in LNG exports until at least 2025, when Qatar is scheduled to launch an extension of its North Field gas deposit.

According to Reuters, 13 percent of American LNG exports in 2021 went to South Korea, 13 percent to China and 10 percent to Japan.

Three new gas liquefaction plants are planned to be launched in the US in 2022, by Cheniere Energy, Venture Global, and Tellurian.


Investment opportunities to be discussed in Abu Dhabi, Tokyo

Deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas will be looking to discuss opportunities in Greece’s energy market during foreign trips this month, beginning with Abu Dhabi and followed by Tokyo.

The deputy minister is scheduled to attend an IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) annual conference this weekend in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

A prominent event on the global RES agenda, the IRENA conference will give the Greek official an opportunity to meet with investors as well as European and American authorities.

Meetings have already been lined up with Estonian politician Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for Energy, as well as Francis Fanon, the US Assistant Secretary of State and head of the country’s energy portfolio.

US interest in Greek privatizations, gas exports, as well as renewable energy projects is at a high, as was made clear to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during meetings in Washington this week.

Fanon has made regular trips to Athens over the past few months for meetings with government officials as well as officials at Greek and US companies, the focus being on the Greek energy market and its investment opportunities.

The IRENA conference comes not long after a Greek government decision placing emphasis on green energy.

Following the Abu Dhabi trip, the Greek energy deputy will be in Tokyo on January 25, joined by the Deputy Minister for Economic Diplomacy Kostas Frangogiannis and the Deputy Minister for Development and Investments Yiannis Tsakiris.

The Tokyo agenda includes meetings with officials at Mitsubishi, Hitachi and the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC). This bank, globally active with a focus on green energy investments, has shown strong interest in Greek projects.

During a visit to Athens last September, JBIC officials requested, from the Greek government, a list of projects deemed mature for financing.

Digitization projects at electricity distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, development of major-scale wind energy arms, installation of smart meters, as well as auto recharging stations are among the projects included on this list, according to sources.

JBIC’s foreign investment loans portfolio is worth 148.8 billion dollars, 17.2 percent of these projects being in Europe.




Japan’s Hitachi widens Asian interest in PPC unit sale plan

Though European interest in the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required unit sale package, until now a lignite-only offer, has remained limited to investors from the continent’s east, Asian interest is broadening, as suggested by Japanese consideration following Chinese.

Japan’s Hitachi corporate group, which has taken on constructing the utility’s Ptolemaida IV, a project budgeted at 1.4 billion euros, is also eyeing the PPC units sale, sources have informed.

It is believed the Japanese company’s buying interest is combined with an interest to upgrade ageing PPC units and construct new ones, key activities at Hitachi Power Europe. Interestingly, Japanese investors are extremely selective in their investment choices, as is highlighted by the country’s limited Greek market presence.

Meanwhile, Greek officials, including government and PPC authorities, are continuing their negotiations with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition over the units to be included in the utility’s sale package.

Certain sources are claiming that Brussels authorities have eased up on previous objections concerning the inclusion of a Meliti unit license into the sale package. DG Comp authorities have questioned whether the sale of a permit to build represents a disinvestment move. This Meliti license is now seen as an asset by DG Comp officials, sources noted.

It remains to be seen whether PPC’s Amynteo or Megalopoli lignite-fired facilities will be included in the package. Greek officials believe the Amynteo unit proposal fully satisfies the procedure’s requirements, rendering any talk of Megalopoli’s inclusion into the sale package as unnecessary. Even so, Greek officials are fully aware of the fact that Brussels, not yet convinced of the local PPC unit sale proposal, has kept Megalopoli on the negotiating table.

Brussels sees the inclusion of the Amynteo facility as a costly option as this unit is ageing and requires an 80 million-euro revamp. Of course, if performed, the facility’s lifespan would be extended to 2035.