Major industries turning to natural gas alternatives

Energy-intensive industries are abandoning, one after another, natural gas as an energy source and turning to alternatives in order to contain their operating costs.

Aluminium of Greece has switched to diesel for smelting procedures at its Agios Nikolaos facility in Viotia, northwest of Athens, while Motor Oil, has begun using naphtha for some of its energy needs, in place of natural gas, whose price levels have spun out of control.

According to sources, another major industrial player, ElvalHalcor, is also examining LPG as an alternative to natural gas, which the company uses for its aluminum and copper smelting furnaces.

However, this fuel switch cannot be carried out instantly as specialized studies focused on safety matters must precede the change. In addition, equipment needed for this fuel switch is not readily available. Also, ElvalHalcor is examining the extent of LPG availability in Greece as an industrial enterprise of its size would require big amounts.

European Commission energy crisis measures set to be announced, which will require energy savings and discourage the use of natural gas, are driving industrial players to seek energy source alternatives.


ELPE close to acquiring 32% stake in Cyprus LPG facility

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) is close to acquiring a 32 percent stake in an LPG facility being developed in Cyprus’ Vasiliko area by the Petrolina group, the country’s biggest petroleum company, owned by the Lefkaritis family.

ELPE’s chief executive Andreas Siamisiis is expected to visit Cyprus today for talks on the deal. Both sides are awaiting the European Commission’s approval.

The unit, to be equipped with storage spaces totaling 5,000 square meters and bottling systems to meet the needs of all LPG trading companies on Cyprus, is expected to be ready to operate towards the end of the year.

The ELPE group, which has closely monitored energy-sector developments on Cyprus for quite some time now, has already invested over 150 million euros in the country.

Last year, ELPE made investments for a new petroleum product distribution facility in the Vasiliko area, network modernization, as well as acquisitions for greater trading activity with industrial consumers.

The Petrolina group, founded in 1961 as FINA (Cyprus), was acquired by the Lefkaritis group in 1983 and renamed Lina Ltd before it was named Petrolina (Holdings) Ltd in 1999.

The company now owns liquid-fuel storage and management facilities in Vasiliko, following an investment of more than 80 million euros that was completed several years ago.

In the retail market, Petrolina owns 100 petrol stations operating throughout Cyprus under two company names, Petrolina and Agip.

Petrolina has worked closely, for decades, with Italian giant ENI, an association that includes exclusive import and trading rights for ENI’s lubricants, greases and liquids in the Cypriot market.

Petrolina was listed on the Cypriot stock exchange in December, 2020. Late last year, the company entered the Greek market, acquiring fuel and liquid gas retailer Silk Oil following many months of negotiations.

Motor Oil’s Crete LPG unit decision in January, deputy tells

Motor Oil is conducting a feasibility study for the development of a 120-MW LPG-fueled combined cycle power power plant on Crete, an investment with a budget estimate of 100 million euros, deputy managing director Petros Tzannetakis (photo) has informed analysts during a conference call.

A finalized investment decision on the Crete project will be made early in 2020, the deputy chief added.

The energy group is continuing its gradual penetration of the renewable energy market and considering various small-scale projects, the company focus, Tzannetakis noted.

Motor Oil recently acquired Stefaner Energy, holding three wind energy station licenses with a total capacity of 9.4 MW. The energy group is considering projects that would capitalize on the right opportunities, Tzannetakis said, responding to questions on Motor Oil’s renewable energy plans.

Motor Oil is now preparing to proceed with a 310 million-euro investment for an upgrade of its Corinth refinery for production of higher-octane gasoline, the deputy informed, adding this project is expected to begin in January.

Tzannetakis, during the teleconference, supported Motor Oil’s refining facilities are ready to meet tougher standards set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for marine fuels with lower sulfur content.


Motor Oil’s LPG power plant plan for Crete raises local objections

Motor Oil is preparing to develop a 120-MW LPG-fueled combined cycle power power plant on Crete but will need to overcome local resistance, early developments have already indicated.

The company has applied to RAE, Greece’s regulatory authority for energy authority, for an electricity production license for a combined cycle power power plant in the Hania prefecture’s Souda area, seen as a major prospective investment for Greece’s electricity generation sector.

The region’s Pera Platani area has been classified as an industrial zone in Crete’s new regional spatial plan, already revised and endorsed by authorities.

However, local community and authority objections have already been raised. The Hania municipal council yesterday voted unanimously against the project, noting its choice of location is part of a residential area. The island’s Korakia, Atherinolakkos and Xylokamara areas have been classified as the island’s energy hubs, the local council noted in its decision.

All parties with objections to Motor Oil’s choice of location for the investment plan have until March 23 to inform RAE.

Alternative car fuel infrastructure development lacking support

Just 3.5 percent of vehicles in Greece, including hybrid models, run on alternative fuels, according to data concerning 2016, released by the country’s infrastructure, transport and networks ministry.

As for electric vehicles, at least 395 were used in 2016, while just three approved and publically accessible electric vehicle charging stations existed last year.

According to ELINHO, the Hellenic Institute of Electric Vehicles, at least 43 electric vehicle charging stations have been installed, primarily for private use, at parking facilities.

Authorities have forecast that at least 3,500 electric vehicles will circulate in Greece in 2020, while the figure is expected to increase to 8,000 in 2025 and 15,000 in 2030.

The ministry report noted that 11 fuel stations offer both CNG and gasoline, while a further five are expected to soon open in Athens and Thessaloniki. Licensing and construction procedures are current in progress for these.

The number of conventional fuel stations selling gasoline and diesel has contracted to 5,500 amid the extended recession. Of these, 800 also offer LPG.

Authorities forecast that the number of CNG-fuled vehicles in Greece will grow ten-fold by 2020, while, by 2025, this category is expected to represent 0.5 percent of the country’s total fleet, the average level on an international scale.

The ministry pointed out that a considerable number of new publically accessible electric vehicle charging stations will need to be developed by the end of 2020 to facilitate the expected growth.

The number of CNG stations – private and public – in Greece is expected to grow to 25 in 2020, 41 in 2025 and 65 in 2030, which is regarded as insufficient. LNG station growth forecasts are even more subdued.

No investment support plans exist at present for the development of private-sector alternative fuel infrastructure as the ministry is operating on a limited budget.