Producers seeking lower-cost industrial electricity alternatives

Industrial electricity consumers of the high and mid-voltage categories are securing lower-cost agreements with independent suppliers, while energy-intensive consumers, currently negotiating with power utility PPC for new tariffs to take effect January 1, are pushing for better deals.

These developments are reshuffling the industrial electricity market, previously dominated by PPC.

Independent energy company Heron and Macedonia Paper Mills (MEL) recently announced an electricity supply agreement that includes a package of services for energy efficiency, electromobility and RES coverage of the producer’s energy needs.

Cement producer Heracles had previously reached an electricity supply agreement with Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, paving the way for further agreements between producers and independent suppliers.

These developments have had a wider knock-on effect, including for mid-voltage supply, as demonstrated by an agreement between energy supplier NRG, a member of the Motor Oil group, with the country’s other cement producing giant, Titan.

Following losses in 2018 and 2019, PPC is believed to be turning its focus on more profitable sectors and is no longer interested in maintaining a high share of the industrial electricity market – both high and mid-voltage.

Gas supplier switching up 164% in newly liberalized gas market

A total of 20,134 gas company customers, 4.18 percent of 481,838 in total, switched suppliers in 2019, data provided by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has shown.

This mobility highlights the Greek retail gas market’s heightened level of competition less than three years since its liberalization and the determination of customers to secure the best possible deals.

In 2018, when the country’s retail gas market was liberalized, 7,611 customers of 441,330 in total, a far lower 1.72 percent, switched gas suppliers.

These figures represent a 164 percent rise, between 2018 and 2019, of customers switching gas suppliers.

Businesses registered the greatest level of mobility, followed by household customers and industrial customers, in that order, both in terms of gas amounts used and number of supply connections.

The supplier switching rate in the household category was 4.12 percent in 2019, up from 1.69 percent in 2018. In the business category, 5.72 percent of consumers switched suppliers in 2019, up from 2.41 percent in 2018.

On the contrary, supplier switching in the industrial customer category fell sharply to 3.17 percent in 2019 from 8.78 percent in 2018.

In numbers, 19,180 household consumers of 465,018 in total changed gas suppliers in 2019. In the business category, 944 of 16,505 made switches to new suppliers last year. As for the industrial category, 10 of 315 customers moved to new gas suppliers in 2019.

Despite the increased level of customer mobility, two suppliers, Zenith and Fysiko Aerio, remained dominant, capturing market shares of 65.51 and 25.76 percent, respectively, in terms of number of connections, according to the RAE data. The two frontrunners were followed by Mytilineos (2.85%), Elpedison (2.05%) and NRG (1.16%).

These market shares and rankings differ when based on gas volume. Under these terms, Zenith’s share was 35.95 percent in 2019, while Fysiko Aerio captured a 31.13 percent share. They were followed by PPC (5.96%), Mytilineos (5.44%), Heron (5.25%), Elpedison (5.21%) and DEPA (3.51%), among a field of smaller players.

 

 

Electricity supplier switching by consumers up 89% in 2019

Consumers switching electricity suppliers increased sharply by 89 percent in 2019, a report by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has shown.

A total of 576,436 consumers, 8.5 percent of the 6,783,075 consumers in total, switched suppliers in 2019, up from 4.51 percent in 2018, the report showed.

This sharp rise in consumer switches was attributed to growing consumer confidence in independent electricity suppliers as well as the effectiveness of discounts and various other offers made available by these suppliers to attract customers. Put simply, competition in the Greek electricity market appears to be intensifying.

Household electricity consumers showed the greatest degree of mobility, followed by mid and high-voltage consumers, or businesses and industrial consumers, the RAE report observed.

In the mid-voltage category, 834 business and industrial consumers of 9,071 in total, or 9.19 percent, switched electricity suppliers in 2019, according to the report.

Despite the increased customer mobility, power utility PPC remained dominant in 2019, supplying electricity to 5,694,627 consumers, or 83.95 percent of the 6,783,075 in total, the report showed. In terms of consumption, PPC held a 71.13 percent share, supplying 27.7 million MWh last year.

Independent supplier Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, was ranked second in terms of total number of customers in 2019, supplying to 181,232 customers, the report noted.

Elpedison was ranked third with 171,143 customers, followed by Heron (140,812), Watt & Volt (127,364), Zenith (73,968), Volton (69,688), NRG (52,961), Fysiko Aerio (39,881), Volterra (35,748) and KEN (33,997).

A total of 24 independent suppliers are active in Greece’s electricity market.

Universal supply service overcharge set at 12%

Electricity consumers resorting to the universal supply service, covering the energy needs of households and small businesses shunned by suppliers for failing to be punctual with payments, will face tariff levels 12 percent over the regular market rate, according to a related ministerial decision.

The country’s five biggest electricity suppliers, in terms of retail market share, will need to share the pool of old and new unwanted customers and provide the universal supply service.

Previously, the market leader – consistently PPC – was forced to offer the service alone after suppliers chose not to submit bids to related universal service tenders.

Under the service’s new rules, the highest tariff rate among the top five suppliers will serve as the base for the 12 percent overcharge.

PPC, still dominating Greece’s retail electricity market with a 90 percent share of power meters, Protergia (Mytilineos), Heron, Elpedison – all three control 3 percent each – and NRG (1%) are the top five suppliers who, by law, must offer the universal supply service.

 

 

Electromobility creating various opportunities, players preparing

Besides the auto industry and recharging network investments, the country’s push towards electromobility, strongly supported by a draft bill delivered by the government yesterday for consultation, is also creating various other new business opportunities.

Enterprises active in battery and recharging technology, spare parts for electric cars and e-bikes, for example, can expect production opportunities.

Business opportunities are emerging for electricity companies, fuel companies, network owners and operators, recharging technology manufacturers and technology firms.

The government’s draft bill includes provisions enabling fuel stations, shopping centers, super markets, parking lots, as well as municipalities and prefectures to install recharging stations. An extensive, widely accessible recharging network will be pivotal to the country’s overall electromobility effort.

The draft bill also includes a provision for the establishment of electric vehicle charging operators, expected to primarily develop their own recharging stations, at locations either owned by them or prospective partners.

The operators will also be able to collaborate with shopping centers, super markets, municipalities and any other entities wanting to install recharging stations but lacking the size or interest to get too involved with more complex procedures.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has already announced the establishment of a subsidiary to focus on the energy group’s electromobility interests. Also, Motor Oil has taken its first steps, mainly through NRG, the group’s supply firm.

Both these major energy groups have already installed some recharging stations along highways and at other points. All major fuel companies plan to follow suit.

The country’s major independent electricity suppliers, Heron, Elpedison and Protergia, plus smaller players, have all incorporated electromobility into their strategic plans.

Power utility PPC, aspiring to dominate this sector, has already announced three MoUs, with the AB Vasilopoulos supermarket chain, Beat taxi service, and airport operator Fraport Greece. PPC aims to have installed 1,000 recharging stations around Greece over the next two to three years.

Some electricity suppliers have formed partnerships with car industries. Elpedison has teamed up with Mercedes Benz Hellas, Motor Oil’s NRG with BMW, and Protergia with Kosmocar-Volkswagen.

 

PPC mid-voltage market share tumbles to 30%, competition intense

Power utility PPC’s market share in the mid-voltage category, where competition has intensified, slid to 30.2 percent in May, well below its 53.72 percent share in January, making way for independent suppliers who have made significant gains since the beginning of the year.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, ranked second in the mid-voltage market, was the biggest gainer during the five-month period, increasing its mid-voltage market share to 20.02 percent in May, nearly double January’s 12.19 percent.

Heron follows with 13.74 percent, up from 9.24 percent in January. Elpedison is ranked fourth with 9.34 percent, from 6.72 percent in January. NRG is next, closely behind, with a 7.74 percent mid-voltage market share, from 5.16 percent at the beginning of the year.

No major market-share changes have been reported in the high and low-voltage categories.

Overall – high, mid and low-voltage categories – PPC captured 66.27 percent of the market in May, slightly below the previous month’s 67.25 percent.

Protergia is ranked second, overall, with a 7.31 percent share, up from 6.84 percent in April. Heron is in third place with 6.27 percent, gaining from the previous month’s 5.81 percent. Elpedison follows with 4.97 percent, down from 5.06 percent in April.

Top five taking on universal supply service, tender futile

A tender staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, offering electricity suppliers a two-year contract for universal supply service covering the needs of consumers who have been shunned for not being punctual with payments, has failed to produce a result.

Though the outcome of this procedure remains consistent with results of equivalent tenders in previous years, an imminent change of rules will require the electricity market’s top five suppliers, based on market share, to assume the universal supply service.  Higher tariffs are charged.

Until now, power utility PPC, as market leader, was forced to take on the job alone.

A ministerial decision on the rule change is expected to be delivered by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas within the next few days.

The universal electricity supply service’s two-year contract starts on June 23.

Based on market data for April, the Greek retail electricity market’s top five suppliers are: PPC, Protergia, Heron, Elpedison and Watt+Volt. NRG trails slightly behind in sixth place.

Unlike other European markets, where the universal electricity supply service is a desirable venture, and, as a result, warrants competitive procedures, the equivalent service in Greece is typically neglected by suppliers as it has been abused by non-punctual electricity consumers exploiting the service as a safe haven.

Natural gas bill payments down 30% in last two months

Natural gas bill payments have plunged by 30 percent over the past two-month period following a milder single-digit decline a month earlier, latest market data has shown.

Consumers have resorted to installment-based payback plans in far greater numbers during this two-month period of deterioration.

Suppliers, fearing a rise in unpaid receivables, are not hesitating to cut gas supply to customers who were already battling against energy debt prior to the pandemic and are now in deeper trouble. However, this supply-cut threat concerns a small percentage of customers.

Gas suppliers have yet to turn to the government for support measures, as was the case in the electricity sector. However, they may end up needing help in the form of low-interest loans, support mechanisms and other financial tools if the country’s tourism industry suffers a major setback this coming summer, as is feared.

Zenith and EPA Attiki (Fysiko Aerio) hold an 85.39 percent overall share of the country’s retail gas markets equipped with distribution networks – wider Athens area, Thessaloniki and Thessaly – data processed by energypress showed. Zenith leads with 46.14 percent and EPA Attiki follows with 39.25 percent.

EPA Thess, a former monopoly covering Thessaloniki and Thessaly, has lost approximately 15 percent of its market share to newly emerged rivals, the data showed. KEN, the biggest gainer, has captured 5.25 percent and is followed by Protergia (3.1%), Elpedison (1.91%), NRG (1.35%), Heron (1.05%), Watt+Volt (0.75%) and EFA (0.76%).

Suppliers face tougher times, NOME benefits ending

The termination of NOME auctions in Greece leaves independent suppliers with enough lower-cost wholesale electricity to fully cover their needs until the end of the year but the subsequent gradual change of market conditions can be expected to begin taking effect as of January when the suppliers start being exposed to the wholesale market.

By March, 2020, suppliers will be fully exposed to the System Marginal Price (SMP), practically meaning the sector’s course will depend on the course of the wholesale market.

If LNG prices remain low to contain the SMP level, then independent retail electricity suppliers should avoid losses despite their wholesale market exposure and, as a result, will be able to compete against the power utility PPC for market share gains.

For many companies, as much as 50 percent of their profitability has been derived from trading lower-cost NOME electricity, primarily as an export product to neighboring markets. In certain cases, significant profits earned through this trading activity enabled aggressive pricing policies in the domestic market, especially the mid-voltage category.

The new market conditions will make electricity export activity more challenging as earnings will be lower. Greater exposure to SMP risk will create problems. The triggering of SMP clauses will require consumers to pay greater amounts and independent suppliers will be less competitive against PPC.

An increase of the SMP level would put some suppliers who have offered relatively low-cost mid-voltage supply contracts in the unpleasant position of needing to maintain supply to customers at below-cost levels. Mid-voltage prices offered by independent suppliers have risen in recent times but are still below those of PPC.

The tougher conditions amid a fluid market of more than 20 retail suppliers in electricity and gas – of which no more than 12 hold market shares of consideration – promise to narrow down the field.

Three takeover and merger agreements have already been reached over the past year or so, beginning with Motor Oil’s acquisition of NRG, followed by a transfer of Green’s client list to Heron, and, just days ago, Volton’s acquisition of KEN.

 

 

 

Motor Oil’s 90% buy into NRG, as retail arm, worth €16.65m

Motor Oil’s takeover of independent power supplier NRG, one of the retail electricity market’s smaller players, through the acquisition of a 90 percent stake announced early last summer and completed in September, is valued at 16.65 million euros, the petroleum firm’s nine-month results have shown.

Given the general mobility and wider interest for takeovers and mergers in the retail electricity market, this agreement promises to serve as a benchmark for other possible deals.

A 16.65 million-euro price tag for 90 percent NRG, an electricity supplier ranked sixth with a 1.35 percent market share, according to September data, means the company’s total value stands at 18.5 million.

Motor Oil has noted NRG will serve as its vehicle for entries into Greece’s retail electricity and gas markets.

The country’s retail electricity market can be divided into three categories. A top-tier group of vertically integrated firms, all holding market shares of over 3 percent, is comprised of Heron, Protergia (Mytilineos) and Elpedison. The mid-tier group consists of four firms, Watt & Volt, Voltera, NRG and ELTA, all with market shares of over one percent, while the third pack, a group of suppliers with markets shares under one percent, consists of KEN, Volton, EPA Attiki and Zenith.

Motor Oil set for electricity market entry through NRG buy

Motor Oil Hellas plans to soon enter the country’s retail electricity market following its recent takeover agreement reached with independent power supplier NRG, one of the retail electricity market’s smaller players, the petroleum company’s administration noted during yesterday’s presentation of first-half results.

Competition committee authorities are expected to endorse Motor Oil’s acquisition within the next two months, possibly between late September and early October.

Besides the retail electricity market, Motor Oil Hellas also intends to enter the natural gas market through subsidiary firm Coral, operating a retail network of 700 outlets and serving a daily customer base estimated at 200,000.

Domestic fuel demand was below satisfactory in the second quarter, Motor Oil officials told analysts at yesterday’s presentation of first-half results. Second-quarter sales dropped by 4.3 percent despite the summer tourism season’s arrival, officials told. However, Motor Oil Hellas subsidiaries increased their market shares, company officials informed.

Positive developments at Motor Oil Hellas included an increase in the sale of shipping and aviation fuel. Profit margins have increased in both sectors.

Also, the petroleum group is expecting results – early October – of a consultancy firm study for compulsory refinery improvements as a result of International Maritime Organization (IPO) regulation changes concerning a reduction of shipping fuel sulfur content levels, globally. Motor Oil Hellas is gaining an increased share in this market.

 

Motor Oil buys 90% of NRG, more takeovers, mergers seen

Motor Oil Hellas has reached a takeover agreement with independent power supplier NRG, one of the retail electricity market’s smaller players, entailing the acquisition of a 90 percent stake, the energy group has announced.

The acquisition will enable Motor Oil Hellas to enter Greece’s retail electricity market and broaden its overall presence in the country’s energy sector.

Motor Oil Hellas, a leading player in the globalized refining sector, operates one of the world’s most sophisticated and versatile refineries (Nelson Complexity Index, 11.54) and possesses a highly competent and insightful management team with a proven ability to seize opportunities in the wider energy sector.

Besides its key refining role, the group, which has continuously bolstered its portfolio, is also active in the aviation fuel, natural gas and oil exploration and production sectors.

Since its listing on the Athens bourse in 2001, Motor Oil has invested a total of 1.3 billion euros to increase production and bolster its refining infrastructure.

NRG, which grew out of the Handris energy group, began operating in 2012 and is regarded as being one of the most specialized electricity trading firms in southeast Europe.

NRG posted a total turnover of 86 million euros in 2017, up from 48.5 million euros in 2016 and 16.5 million euros in 2015. Its clientele is comprised of business groups, small to medium-sized businesses and a solid share of household consumers.

“Today is a special day for NRG and its people. I am particularly satisfied with the Motor Oil group’s vote of confidence in NRG,” noted Alexandros Handris, the chief executive at NRG. “NRG is now stronger than ever before,” he added.

The takeover deal is seen representing the first act of more acquisitions of smaller power supply companies by bigger players, as well as mergers. At least one of the country’s three vertically integrated energy firms is believed to be finalizing another takeover deal.

These developments highlight the uncertainty that has crept into Greece’s retail electricity market, especially since the increase of wholesale prices, which, combined with the imminent reduction of electricity amounts to be offered at forthcoming NOME auctions, has greatly narrowed profit margins. The main power utility PPC’s ongoing dominance has not enabled smaller suppliers to penetrate.