An oil pipeline stretching 213 kilometers from an ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) facility in Thessaloniki to its Okta company refinery and storage facility in the Republic of North Macedonia is expected to be reopened towards the end of this year, roughly six years after the Greek petroleum group shut it down.
The matter has been included on the agenda for a meeting in Skopje today between officials from both sides of the border, led by their respective heads of state, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his North Macedonian peer Zoran Zaev. The two leaders have agreed to sign a series of bilateral agreements and memorandums of cooperation.
Swift progress is being sought in efforts to finalize a customs agreement, align the oil pipeline plan with EU standards and facilitate its licensing.
ELPE intends to utilize the relaunched oil pipeline to transport fuel, especially diesel, in annual quantities of around one million metric tons, far greater than the total consumption in North Macedonia. for exports to Bulgaria, Serbia and Kosovo, besides local sales.
ELPE plans to use its 350,000-metric ton storage facility, located 25 kilometers from the North Macedonian capital, as part of the export drive to regional markets.
The Greek petroleum group stopped operating this facility in 2013 after deciding it was no longer feasible to run.
A recent bilateral agreement between Greece and North Macedonia, until recently officially named Fyrom (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), has increased trading potential between the two countries and in the wider region.
ELPE controls 80 percent of its Okta venture in North Macedonia. The remaining stake is held locally. This equity balance will remain unchanged but Okta’s retail presence is expected to increase.
Okta currently operates 27 petrol stations in North Macedonia. An exclusive partnership with Makpetrol, the neighboring country’s leading oil and oil products distributor running 121 petrol stations, promises to increase Okta’s share of retail fuel stemming from its refinery in North Macedonia to 65 percent.