DESFA, seeking leading role, awaits RAE approval of investment plan

Gas grid operator DESFA’s majority stakeholder Senfluga – a consortium comprising three European operators, Snam, Fluxys and Enagas, as well as Greek energy company Damco – holding a 66 percent stake in the former state-controlled utility – is striving for extroversion and a leading market role in Greece’s post-lignite era.

As was recently indicated by DESFA’s chief executive Nicola Battilana, the company is striving to push ahead with major investment plans to bolster the role of natural gas as a transitional fuel towards climate-neutral energy systems, and also upgrade Greece’s geostrategic role in the southeast Mediterranean.

DESFA’s investment interest very much depends on the position to be adopted by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on projects of national significance. The gas grid operator anticipates the authority will approve, within the next few days, its ten-year development plan covering 2021 to 2030, worth 500 million euros.

The gas grid operator is looking for swift approval of the plan. Fast action would help the country’s climate-change objectives set by the Greek government.

Besides the Greek market, DESFA is also seeking to generate revenue through various projects abroad. DESFA is expected to be declared the winning bidder in a tender for the maintenance and operation of a Liquefied Natural Gas Import LNGI facility developed in Kuwait by state-run KIPIC.

DESFA is also working on a series of other interests, including becoming the fifth member of a team behind the Alexandroupoli FSRU project, a floating LNG terminal envisaged for Greece’s northeast. This FSRU, geostrategically significant for Greece, promises alternate LNG supply to the Balkans.

Project licensing preparations are also being made by DESFA for a pipeline interconnection to link Greece and North Macedonia. The operator anticipates a market test co-staged by DESFA and MER, the neighboring country’s gas grid operator, will produce favorable results.

Other project plans at DESFA include gas grid expansion in Greece’s west Macedonia region, to facilitate the entry of natural gas where lignite has dominated as an energy source.

Greek, North Macedonian operators working on gas, power links

Greek gas grid operator DESFA and its state-controlled North Macedonian counterpart MER plan to upgrade a memorandum of cooperation signed in 2016 for the construction of a 120-kilometer gas pipeline from Thessaloniki’s Nea Mesimvria area to the northern neighbor.

Heading a Greek delegation, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his North Macedonian peer Zoran Zaev have agreed to sign a series of bilateral agreements and memorandums of cooperation in Skopje today.

The project, to interconnect the Greek and North Macedonian gas transmission systems, is regarded as one of the most significant energy investments being prepared by the two countries.

It is planned to offer an annual transmission capacity of about 3 billion cubic meters and also enable an interconnection with the TAP route – to supply Azerbaijan gas to European markets via Greece – for a diversification of sources.

The DESFA-MER association promises to be further enhanced by the North Macedonian operator’s moves for gas system interconnections with Kosovo and Montenegro.

Subsequently, the Greek-North Macedonian natural gas pipeline, once constructed, promises to offer a new supply route to Balkan markets.

DESFA is preparing to stage a market test for the Greek-North Macedonian pipeline during the second half of this year, sources have informed.

Meanwhile, Greece’s power grid operator IPTO and its North Macedonian counterpart MEPSO are discussing preliminary studies intended to lead to an upgrade of electricity interconnections between the two countries.

Snam officials in Athens pushing for DESFA deal completion

A team of officials representing Snam, the Italian energy firm heading an all-European gas operator consortium named the preferred investor for the acquisition of a 66 percent stake of DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, is in Athens to apply pressure for the completion, as soon as possible, of pending issues leading to the deal’s finalization.

Spain’s Enagás Internacional and Belgium’s Fluxys are the consortium’s two other members.

One of four pending issues, a stalled agreement between DESFA and Fyrom (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) state-run energy company MER Skopje for the development of a pipeline interconnection intended to link the gas grids of the neighboring countries, appears to have regained momentum. Snam has pushed for the DESFA-MER agreement to be sealed.

DESFA and MER Skopje signed a Memorandum of Cooperation for the project in 2016 but Greek licensing procedure delays and an initiative taken last year by Russian entrepreneur Leonid Lebedev’s Windows International Hellas for a license to construct a rival natural gas pipeline from Thessaloniki to Fyrom, slowed down the process. RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, still needs to make a final decision.

Another pending issue, DESFA’s corporate split from gas utility DEPA, is the most challenging of all. DESFA will also need new certification, as a national gas grid operator, under its new ownership.

Tariff revisions represent the fourth pending issue. DESFA has proposed a WACC figure of 9.27 percent but RAE does not appear keen to offer its endorsement. The authority has made note of the WACC figure at IPTO, the power grid operator, ranging between 7 and 7.5 percent.

 

 

DESFA, MER resume talks for Greece-Fyrom pipeline link

Greek gas grid operator DESFA and Fyrom (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) state-run energy company MER Skopje have resumed talks for the development of a pipeline interconnection intended to link the gas grids of the neighboring countries.

Highly ranked MER Skopje officials have been in Athens over the past week for talks with DEFSA officials focused on technical and financial aspects, energypress sources have informed.

DESFA and MER Skopje signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in 2016 for the project, but progress was slow before eventually stalling.

Less than a fortnight ago, MER Skopje and Albagaz signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote a gas grid interconnection plan linking Fyrom and Albania, at a ceremony in Tirana that was attended by ministers of both countries.

Greek licensing procedure delays have been cited as a key reason behind the country’s lack of action in the Greece-Fyrom pipeline interconnection project.

The matter has been further complicated by an initiative taken last year by Russian entrepreneur Leonid Lebedev’s Windows International Hellas for a license to construct a natural gas pipeline from Thessaloniki to Fyrom.

RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, has yet to deliver licensing decisions on either project.

Skopje is continuing to support the DESFA-MER Skopje project despite the recent MoU signed by MER and Albagaz, according to sources.

Fyrom turns to Albania for gas supply amid Greek delays

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) has turned to Albania to cover its natural gas needs as a result of Greece’s failure to deliver on an agreement reached between the country’s gas grid operator DESFA and MER Skopje two years ago for the development of a pipeline interconnection linking the gas grids of the neighboring countries.

Local licensing procedure delays have been cited as a key reason behind Greece’s lack of action. RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, has yet to offer its approval for the project. Also, the matter has been further complicated by an initiative from Russian entrepreneur Leonid Lebedev’s Windows International Hellas for a license to construct a natural gas pipeline from Thessaloniki to Fyrom.

Last week, Albagaz and MER Skopje signed a Memorandum of Understanding, intended to promote a gas grid interconnection plan linking Fyrom and Albania, at a ceremony in Tirana that was attended by ministers of both countries.

The bilateral pipeline plan entails branching off gas quantities from the TAP line – running through Albania and northern Greece – into the Fyrom market. Though a Fyrom-Albania investment plan is still a long way off, both sides have agreed to seek financing through EU funds.

Pundits and investors in Greece have warned that the country now stands a big chance of missing out on a major opportunity to supply gas to the Fyrom market.