The European Commission’s REPower EU transition plan, aiming to greatly reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas, is overambitious and should be regarded as an objective rather than a set of specific measures, officials taking part in the recent annual Gas Infrastructure Europe conference, an authoritative sector event, have concluded.
The calculations offered by the REPower EU plan are incorrect, Torben Brabo, GIE’s president, has told the Euractive agency, adding that a closer look at the figures concerning Russian natural gas supply, LNG supply, as well as biomethane projections, renders the European plan as overambitious.
LNG availability and purchase projections in the REPower EU plan are possibly too high, the GIE president stressed.
Officials linked with LNG infrastructure told the GIE conference that the LNG market’s actual conditions will prevent the EU plan’s lofty targets from being achieved. Anything beyond 50 percent of the target set will be difficult to attain, these officials contended.
American current gas liquefaction capacity does not suffice for supply of an additional 15 bcm of LNG to Europe, as specified in the EU plan, officials taking part in the GIE conference contended.
Qatar and other LNG exporters in the Middle East have already committed amounts to non-EU buyers, while the REPower EU plan’s 35-bcm biomethane objective appears to be too optimistic, they added.
The launch of a privatization procedure offering 100 percent of DEPA Trade, a new entity established by gas utility DEPA for the sale, is near, as long as the heightened tension in the Middle East does not lead to extreme events and turbulent market conditions.
Officials at privatization fund TAIPED and the energy ministry are aiming for a start before the end of January, while, according to some sources, the sale’s launch may take place at the end of next week.
The heightened tension in the Middle East is a concern for the organizers of this privatization as extreme developments could unsettle oil and gas markets to an extent that would render the current period unsuitable for the DEPA Trade sale. If so, officials may need to delay the sale’s launch.
TAIPED and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA, are close to reaching an agreement on the sale process of this stake should ELPE not emerge as the sale’s winning bidder. The petroleum group intends to seek a full acquisition in the DEPA sale. The details of a clause requiring ELPE to sell its stake, if the group fails to submit the winning bid, are now being worked on.
The agreement between TAIPED and ELPE will need to be endorsed by the boards of both entities.
A Hellenic Petroleum ELPE plan for an imminent bond issue that will seek to raise a sum of at least 300 million euros at an interest rate of less than 2 percent in order to refinance an existing loan could be delayed by increased tension in the Middle East over the past few days as a result of drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations.
A firm US reaction against Iran would further escalate this tension in the wider area and could negatively impact ELPE’s planned bond issue as some investors would certainly hesitate to invest.
The petroleum group’s net debt is 1.4 billion euros, down by approximately 500 million euros compared to a year earlier, according to ELPE’s first half results, announced August 29.
Along with its first-half results, ELPE announced a bond issue plan for within 2019, the objective being to further decrease its financial costs.
The main power utility PPC’s international aspirations were highlighted during a speech delivered today by the utility’s CEO, Manolis Panagiotakis, at a Greek-Russian energy conference in Athens.
Panagiotakis, while addressing various European and international developments, pointed out that they stand as challenges of strategic dimension for PPC and “need to be confronted positively and creatively” so that the utlility can make swift achievements in areas where it has failed over many years.
Commenting on the domestic electricity market, PPC’s chief executive stressed that maintenance of a significant proportion of lignite-fired electricity production is necessary for supply security and protection against any international oil price increases.
On the utility’s international presence, the CEO said PPC is seeking partnerships with both local and foreign enterprises, including Russian firms.
He pointed out that PPC’s international aspirations stretch beyond the EU. Neighboring Turkey, whose market is experiencing rapid growth, is a key aspect in this expansion plan, Panagiotakis noted. He added that Iran, a country where opportunities are currently being sought by the utility, as well as Middle East countries are also being looked at for market opportunities.
The conference was held within the framework of the 4th Greek-Russian Social Forum, which, in turn, is part of the wider “2016 – Year of Greek-Russian Friendship” series of events.