Brussels placing energy crisis hopes on windfall profits tax

The European Commission is placing its hopes on greater revenues to be generated by a windfall profits tax on refineries, wholesale gas companies and electricity producers as a solution to get the EU through the energy crisis.

According to the plan, the EU-27 will use these increased tax collections to subsidize, as widely and as generously as possible, electricity bills of European households and businesses.

Thoughts of imposing a price cap on natural gas from all sources, including Russia, have been abandoned, following objections raised by many EU member states at a recent meeting of EU energy ministers.

The windfall profits tax on oil, gas, coal and refining companies, to be announced today by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, could reach as high as 33 percent, according to Bloomberg. Drafts of this extraordinary tax measure do not include its tax rate.

 

Windfall tax for oil and gas firms, government decides

Windfall profits earned in 2022 by petroleum companies, through their refineries, as well as by natural gas wholesalers, will be subject to an extraordinary solidarity tax, the government has decided, energypress sources have informed.

The money to be collected through this extraordinary tax will go towards the Energy Transition Fund to support the government’s energy subsidies offered to households and businesses.

The government’s plan to move ahead with this extraordinary tax is linked to a probable European-wide solidarity tax on windfall profits earned by fossil fuel companies.

The Greek plan will be shaped along the lines of a windfall tax model imposed on electricity producers.

This new windfall tax on oil and gas companies was discussed at last Friday’s emergency meeting of EU energy ministers. It was supported by Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas, as well as his German and Spanish counterparts.

The Greek government appears determined to implement the windfall tax on oil and gas companies even if it fails to receive EU approval. Athens recently imposed a 90 percent windfall tax on electricity producers without EU approval.

 

 

ELPE, Motor Oil decide to cut Russian oil imports

Greece’s two refineries, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Motor Oil, are moving ahead with plans to replace Russian crude oil imports with orders from alternative sources.

Both energy groups have planned ahead of the EU’s proposal for a ban of all oil imports from Russia by the end of this year, company officials have informed. Reduced reliance on Russian oil imports has been a part of their strategies, whose implementation began last year, the officials added.

Neither energy group has been overexposed to Russian oil imports. Motor Oil’s Russian oil imports, over the years, have represented between 5 to 7 percent of its total oil imports, while ELPE’s Russian oil imports in 2021 reached 18 percent of the group’s total, according to its annual results.

Motor Oil’s deputy managing director Petros Tzannetakis informed a teleconference with analysts last month that the energy group had cut Russian oil imports in the fourth quarter last year.

ELPE’s leadership, which had joined a business delegation accompanying Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on a recent official visit to Saudi Arabia, reached an agreement with Aramco for bigger crude oil purchases, presumably to replace Russian oil.

Government in frantic search of €3-4bn for crisis measures

The government is frantically searching for solutions that would secure between 3 to 4 billion euros to compensate energy companies for planned price ceilings on wholesale energy prices.

Energy market conditions are adverse across the board. Consumers are struggling to meet costlier energy-bill payments, energy market companies and authorities fear an increase in unpaid receivables and its wider effects, while the government, seeing its approval rating fall by between half and one percentage point a month, is hoping for a European solution to the energy crisis, now exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

A European solution to the energy crisis does not seem anywhere near. French president Emmanuel Macron is currently stranded by the French elections, while German chancellor Olaf Scholz appears undecided. For the time being, at least, the Greek government will need to seek a solution through the national budget.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is under no pressure to end his war on Ukraine and stop his energy-sector blackmailing of the EU as long as European energy payments for Russian gas, oil and coal, totaling 600 million dollars a day, keep flowing into Russia.

At this stage, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ proposal for a price ceiling at the TTF gas exchange appears to be the only promising solution, as this would strike at the root of the problem prompting exorbitant electricity prices around Europe.

Oil, gas prices surge to record levels, confirming Russia war market fears

Oil and gas prices have reached unimaginable levels, breaking one record after another to cause the biggest market shock in decades and confirm fears of the extent of the impact Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would have on international energy markets.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost a fortnight ago, prices for electricity, gasoline, diesel, natural gas, as well as grains and virtually all other basic commodities have skyrocketed after stabilizing at elevated levels over many months.

Yesterday’s price surges in international energy markets were extraordinary. Natural gas futures contracts, set for delivery in April, reached a record high of 345 euros per MWh, up 79 percent in a day, before de-escalating to 215 euros per MWh at the end of trading.

The Brent crude oil price is now steadily over 120 dollars a barrel. It has been driven higher by media reports of a US plan to ban Russian oil and gas imports.

Such price levels, even if there are no further rises, will result in major inflationary pressure for the global economy.

According to a Bloomberg report, US president Joe Biden is examining the prospect of imposing an embargo on Russian oil, even without the participation of European allies.

Any European breakaway from Russian gas supply would require extreme measures from European governments and the energy sector to cover the resulting gap and ensure energy supply needs for consumers and enterprises are met, officials at French energy group Engie noted.

Highlighting the shock felt in markets around the world, Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, remarked: “I’m lost for words.”

 

EC announcing plan to end EU dependence on Russian gas, oil

The European Commission will today present a new energy plan for the EU-27 that will aim to end Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas imports, amounting to roughly 155 billion cubic meters per year, as well as Russian oil.

Tools to be used for an end of this energy dependence will include LNG imports from the US and Qatar, further LNG terminal investments throughout Europe, accelerated development of RES projects, and emphasis on biogas and hydrogen.

A preliminary announcement of the EU’s new energy doctrine was made yesterday by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen following a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

She also spoke of the need to protect consumers, especially lower-income groups, as well as enterprises, against skyrocketing energy prices as the continent braces for even higher electricity prices next month.

If natural gas prices remain at levels of over 300 euros per MW/h, wholesale electricity prices in Greece could soon exceed 700 euros per MWh. The wholesale electricity price in Greece today is at 462.90 euros per MWh, up 52 percent in a day.

The energy market turbulence is expected to persist until at least early next year.

 

BSTDB loan to accelerate country’s hydrocarbons sector development

Financing to support implementation of ongoing development of Energean’s Epsilon field in Prinos

The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) is providing a loan of up to EUR 90.5 million to Energean Oil and Gas S.A. (Energean), the only Greek oil and gas producer. The proceeds will fund Energean’s investment plans – in particular the development of the Epsilon and Prinos fields – and will also support its working capital needs and the finalization of structural expenditures in the Prinos infrastructure complex.

The project will create jobs for suppliers of goods and services in the drilling and construction industries, as well as maintaining livelihoods in key Greek businesses amidst the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.

“Following the successful start of our cooperation in 2018, BSTDB’s continued support to Energean underlines our commitment to help Greece harness its indigenous natural resources for long-term economic growth, contribute to increased fiscal revenues and develop exports in the region. It will have an important development finance impact at a vital time when businesses try to recover from the global pandemic. Furthermore, while we are all committed to promoting renewable energy generation and cleaner energy sources, an essential element of this process is to ensure that the transition goes smoothly, and without disruptions that may undermine the shift to climate finance. Judicious use of fossil fuels, according to high standards of efficiency and pollution mitigation, remains a key part of ensuring the shift to greener energy generation,” said Dmitry Pankin, BSTDB President.

“Our new collaboration with BSTDB is crucial for the development of the Epsilon Oil Field that will extend the life of Greece’s sole hydrocarbon producing asset for several years. It also demonstrates the confidence the banking sector has to well structured and realistic development plans. Our goal is not only to further develop the hydrocarbon resources in the Gulf of Kavala, but also convert Prinos into a carbon neutral industrial complex that will be a landmark in the Mediterranean”, said Dr. Katerina Sardi, Energean Oil & Gas Managing Director and Country Manager in Greece.

Energean expects first oil from the Epsilon development in 1H 2023.

Energean Oil & Gas S.A. is a 100% subsidiary of Energean Plc, (LSE:ENOG TASE:אנאג), a London Premium Listed FTSE 250 listed E&P company with operations in eight countries across the Mediterranean and UK North Sea. Energean’s production comes mainly from the Abu Qir field in Egypt and fields in Southern Europe. The company’s flagship project is the 3.5 Tcf Karish, Karish North and Tanin development, offshore Israel, where it intends to use the newbuild fully-owned FPSO Energean Power, which will be the only FPSO in the Eastern Mediterranean, to produce first gas, commencing mid-2022. More info on: www.energean.com

The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) is an international financial institution established by Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. The BSTDB headquarters are in Thessaloniki, Greece. BSTDB supports economic development and regional cooperation by providing loans, credit lines, equity and guarantees for projects and trade financing in the public and private sectors in its member countries. The authorized capital of the Bank is EUR 3.45 billion. BSTDB is rated long-term “A” by Standard and Poor’s,  “A2” by Moody’s and “A+” by the Russian credit rating agency ACRA. For information on BSTDB, visit www.bstdb.org.

Natural gas a leading issue at upcoming Greek-Russian talks

Energy matters, especially sharply risen natural prices, will be high on the agenda at a forthcoming 13th Greek-Russian Joint Interministerial Committee scheduled to take place in Moscow on November 29 and 30.

Gas utility DEPA’s current contract with Russia’s Gazprom runs until 2026 but the two sides renegotiate, each year, the details of its pricing formula and a take-or-pay clause incorporated into the agreement.

DEPA’s supply agreement with Gazprom is entirely oil-indexed but an extraordinary revision was made for 2020 and 2021 as oil prices were extremely high, well over LNG price levels. A large proportion of Russian gas received by DEPA was indexed with the TTF gas hub in the Netherlands.

The situation has overturned this year, LNG prices rising well above oil prices. As a result, Gazprom wants to avoid a fully oil-indexed agreement for gas supply to DEPA in 2022 and prefers a hybrid solution that would partially index its gas prices with the TTF.

DEPA and Gazprom have yet to reach an agreement, but the two sides will need to converge by the end of this month, which would enable the Greek gas company to set prices and establish deals with customers in the Greek market.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is scheduled to travel to Moscow on December 8 for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the first direct meeting between the two leaders since Mitsotakis assumed office in July, 2019.

 

No sign of energy price de-escalation, ELPE chief executive points out

There is no sign of energy prices deescalating any time soon, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) group CEO Andreas Siamisiis has noted during a conference call staged for a presentation of the group’s 3Q results.

The ELPE chief executive expressed concern over the sharp rise in energy costs, which have impacted the recovery of the group’s results, despite nearly doubled operating profit in the third quarter.

Higher energy costs are subduing, to some extent, ELPE’s positive results, the chief executive noted, adding that figures in 4Q are expected to be just as good, if not better.

The group’s restructuring plan is progressing at a rapid pace for completion by the end of this year, in accordance with the initial schedule, Siamisiis pointed out.

ELPE, whose revised business plan incorporates major green-energy investments, is expected to be rebranded in early 2022.

ELPE begins group restructuring plan to feature new subsidiaries

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE has begun preparations for the establishment of a new subsidiary as part of the group’s wider restructuring plan, dubbed Vision 2025. The subsidiary will be attached to a holding company to serve as an umbrella for subsidiaries representing the group’s activities.

As a first step, ELPE’s administration has decided to establish a new division for its refining, supply and petroleum and petrochemicals sales.  ELPE plans to offer 130.1 million new shares for 10 euros each, which results in a total value of 1.3 billion euros for this new subsidiary.

The restructuring plan is expected to be completed by the end of the year with the establishment of all other subsidiaries, representing Commerce (EKO, BP), ELPE Upstream, ELPE Renewables, as well as a subsidiary hosting the group’s electricity and natural gas interests.

The Vision 2025 plan includes investments worth 4 billion euros to facilitate the group’s entry into the renewable energy sector and support new technologies for cleaner energy production.

New regulatory framework for oil product, natural gas facilities

The energy ministry is planning to upgrade the regulatory framework for petroleum product and natural gas facilities, regarded as necessary in order to align the framework with modern technological developments and optimal solutions. Also, through the upgrade, the energy ministry will also introduce new regulations for areas not covered by national legislation.

The energy ministry has announced a related tender for a specialized consultant to be  tasked with designing and delivering technical regulations in the form of a regulatory framework.

Issues to be covered by the upgrade include defining technical specifications, configuration, design, construction, inspections, safe operation, maintenance and fire protection of hydrocarbon extraction facilities, including the sealing of wells, as well as for overland pipelines transporting crude and petroleum products and subsea pipelines carrying crude, petroleum products, natural gas and hydrocarbon extraction.

An 18-month contract will be offered to the winning participant in the tender for the regulatory framework upgrade, budgeted at 304,838 euros. Based on the current schedule, the framework’s upgrade will be completed by 2023.

ELPE posts 76% EBITDA increase, year-to-year, 2Q net profit at €54m

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has posted a 26 percent comparable EBITDA profit increase to 79 million euros for the second quarter.

ELPE’s net profit reached 54 million euros in the second quarter and 206 million euros in the first quarter, while the EBITDA figure was 133 million euros, a 76 percent year-on-year increase.

The market’s gradual market recovery has led to a slight improvement in international market conditions.

An operating profit increase at ELPE was primarily attributed to a record high in the petrochemical sector, where the reduced global availability of polypropylene led to very high international margins.

A rebound in international oil prices for yet another quarter, positively impacted the company’s stock valuation and published results.

 

Energean’s Prinos field losses seen reaching €32m in 2021

Upstream company Energean’s Prinos field concession, south of Kavala in northern Greece, is projected to incur yet another increase in losses this year, in excess of 32 million euros, according to a 2021 budget submitted by the company to EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

These losses, which do not include debt payments for investments made in previous years, will add to accumulated losses of 200 million euros incurred by the company through its operations at Prinos, Greece’s only active hydrocarbon field.

Production at the Prinos field is expected to narrowly exceed a total of 500,000 barrels this year, according to the company budget’s projections.

The budget’s projections were based on the assumptions of an average Brent index oil price of 60 dollars per barrel, reduced revenues of between 7 and 8 dollars per barrel at the Prinos field as a result of the inferior quality of oil produced, as well as a euro-dollar exchange rate of 1.20.

Based on these figures, the Prinos field’s revenue for 2021 is projected to reach 22.3 million euros, with expenses reaching 54.3 million euros.

Despite the negative results amid an unfavorable climate, Energean plans to recommence investments at the Gulf of Kavala’s “Epsilon” field with an amount of 13 million euros, part of total investments worth 23 million euros.

Prinos is currently producing from 14 wells, two out of which are horizontal at the North Prinos and Epsilon Fields.

The horizontal drills at the Epsilon field are expected to begin producing 15 months after the recommencement of investments.

These investments will include the completion of a new platform at the Lamda deposit, to emerge as the first new platform in Greece since 1977. Prinos began producing 40 years ago.

 

 

Oil prices rise sharply, time running out for oil-rich countries

Petroleum-rich countries, seeking to end the reliance of their economies on oil trade through investments in new domains as they prepare for the diminished role of fossil fuels in the new era, currently have a golden opportunity to boost output and make the most of elevated oil prices, especially if other producers remain disciplined in accordance with OPEC rules.

The UAE, a pertinent case, have invested heavily over the past decade in facilities boosting output, the objective being to maximize oil-export revenues for the financing of the country’s economic transition.

However, OPEC will first need to accept this increased production ability before the UAE can implement it. This is a tricky issue as if OPEC accepts the UAE plan, the cartel will then also face similar-minded requests by other members, which would hammer oil prices to low levels.

The UAE seem adamant on their national plan, considering it a matter of existential significance. Saudi Arabia and Russia face a difficult mission as the two countries will need to quell the UAE intention without instigating its withdrawal from OPEC.

In general, oil producers are now striving to sell as much oil as they can, for as long as they can, taking into account that the global decarbonization effort is gaining momentum.

ELPE to abandon its onshore block licenses in country’s west

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has decided to limit its presence in Greece’s upstream sector, driven by unfavorable market developments, sources have informed.

Spain’s Repsol recently also opted to surrender upstream rights in Greece.

ELPE intends to return to the Greek State its exploration and production licenses for two onshore blocks, Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese, sources noted. The Greek petroleum company has deemed exploration activities in these specific areas as no longer being feasible, the sources added.

The company, in reaching its decision to withdraw from the Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese blocks, also took into account negative reactions by local community groups as well as a series of bureaucratic obstacles, sources said.

The Greek State’s failure to deal with a lack of infrastructure at the port of Patras, close to these blocks in Greece’s west, is seen as a key factor in ELPE’s decision to withdraw from the Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese blocks, despite promising seismic research results.

ELPE does not intend to surrender its interests in offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete. It is a co-member of consortiums with Total and ExxonMobil for these licenses.

The government is placing emphasis on renewable energy sources, foreign minister Nikos Dendias has just told Arab News.

 

Spain’s Repsol also exiting Ioannina license, to be fully held by Energean

Spain’s Repsol is continuing to disinvest its hydrocarbon interests in the Greek market in the wake of a return to the Greek State of its licensing rights for a block in Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece, the company’s latest move being a plan to withdraw from a license concerning a block in Ioannina, also in the northwest.

Repsol, which formed a partnership with Energean Oil & Gas for the Ioannina block, holds a 60 percent stake in this project, now at a pre-drilling stage, as an exploratory step.

Repsol has informed EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, of its decision to withdraw from the Ioannina block, according to sources. The Spanish petroleum firm’s 60 percent stake will be transferred to Greek partner Energean, currently holder of the license’s other 40 percent, the sources added.

The Spanish company’s decisions on Greece are part of a wider disinvestment strategy aiming to reduce the firm’s international exposure to hydrocarbon exploration and production activities, sources explained.

Energean will seek a deadline extension, from EDEY, for drilling at the Ioannina license as it intends to find a new partner, sources informed. The Greek company remains interested in exploring the area’s hydrocarbon potential, the sources added.

Repsol’s intentions concerning an offshore block in the Ionian Sea, for which it has formed a 50-50 joint venture with Hellenic Petroleum, remain unclear.

ELPE posting results amid strong pressure felt by petroleum industry

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), to post financial results today amid the pandemic’s adverse conditions, seen also impacting the global petroleum industry throughout 2021, is expected to announce adjusted losses of 14 million euros for 4Q in 2020, following a profit of 24 million euros in the equivalent period a year earlier, according to an Optima Bank estimate.

The petroleum group’s adjusted EBITDA for 4Q is expected to be 62 million euros, a 48 percent reduction from the previous year.

As for 2020, overall, ELPE’s adjusted EBITDA is expected to be 318 million euros, a 44 percent reduction. Adjusted losses are expected to be 1.5 million euros following a profit of 182 million euros in 2019.

The petroleum group intends to move ahead with a transformation plan and green-energy investment plans this year.

ELPE, as an initial goal, aims to develop a RES portfolio totaling 300 MW capacity in 2021 and 600 MW by 2025.

The corporate group has already begun work on a 204-MW project in Kozani, northern Greece, following a takeover deal.

Any prospect of a recovery by the global petroleum industry appears distant. Many facilities around the world have continued to restrict their operations.

A recent Wood Mackenzie report projected the European refining industry will register losses measuring 1.4 million barrels per day until 2023 as a result of the pandemic’s ongoing lockdown measures.

At least two refineries in the Mediterranean region are currently examining the prospect of closing down.

Total, ExxonMobil, ELPE delay Crete surveys for next winter

A decision by the three-member consortium comprising Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) to conduct seismic surveys at two offshore blocks south and west of Crete in the winter of 2021-2022, instead of this winter, highlights the upstream market’s negative climate, both in Greece and internationally.

Upstream players, drastically cutting down on investments costs amid the crisis, have cancelled scores of investment plans, especially those concerning the development of new fields.

Based on the terms of its contract, the Total-ExxonMobil-ELPE consortium also had the opportunity to conduct seismic surveys at its Cretan offshore blocks this winter.

It should be pointed out that the consortium has yet to receive environmental approval for these blocks. Nor have these slots been included in an annual workplan delivered by EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

Even so, Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE do not appear prepared, under the current conditions, to increase their investment risk in the region.

Spain’s Repsol on verge of exiting Greek upstream market

Spanish petroleum firm Repsol, a member of consortiums holding licenses to three fields in Greece, is on the verge of leaving the country’s upstream market as a part of a wider strategic adjustment prompted by the oil crisis and the pandemic, developments that have impacted exploration plans, as well as a company plan to reduce its environmental footprint, sources have informed.

The upstream industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has driven down prices and demand. The EU’s climate-change policies are another key factor behind Repsol’s decision.

Repsol is believed to have decided to significantly reduce the number of countries in which it is currently present for hydrocarbon exploration and production, the intention being to limit operations to the more lucrative of fields.

All three fields in Repsol’s Greek portfolio are still at preliminary research stages and do not offer any production assurances, meaning they will most probably be among the first to be scrapped by the company from its list of projects.

Respol formed a partnership with Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for offshore exploration in the Ionian Sea. Repsol is the operator in this arrangement. A license secured by the two partners for this region in 2018 was approved in Greek Parliament a year later.

Also, in 2017, Repsol agreed to enter a partnership with Energean Oil & Gas, acquiring 60 percent stakes, and the operator’s role, for onshore blocks in Ioannina and Etoloakarnania, northwestern Greece.

Repsol maintains interests in over 40 countries, producing approximately 700,000 barrels per day.

Prinos field threatened by poor results, decline projection

Operations at the Prinos field, Greece’s only producing oil field, in the country’s offshore north, are in great danger of being disrupted following poor production figures in 2020 and a further decline predicted for 2021, a wider company update just delivered by Energean Oil & Gas, the field’s license holder, has suggested.

In 2020, production at the oil field reached just 1,800 barrels per day, while its inferior-quality output was sold at a discount price, between 7 to 8 dollars below Brent levels.

This level of output represents less than 4 percent of Energean’s overall production, which, last year, reached 48,000 barrels – mostly natural gas.

Output at the Prinos field is projected to drop below 1,500 bpd in 2021 as, even if a rescue plan for the facility is approved, related investments needed at the facility will take time to complete.

The rescue plan, announced last June by Energean and dubbed Green Prinos, envisions an adjustment for eco-friendly operations through a series of investments worth 75 million euros.

Energean’s administration, in its company update to analysts, expressed hope that a solution can be found in the first quarter of 2021 for its rescue plan, submitted to the Greek government, which then forwarded the plan to the European Commission.

The rescue plan has remained stuck at the European Directorate for Competition, whose approval is required.

Energean is considering the development of a carbon capture and storage project at its Prinos field, which would be the first in Greece, promising new life for the project, along with the support of investments at field E, whose development depends on the outcome of a financing bid, company officials informed.

Overall, the news for the Prinos field is not good. Losses incurred by this unit since September, 2019, when its crisis began before being further aggravated by the pandemic, have exceeded 100 million euros.

This loss, however, has not affected the overall financial results of Energean, generating significant earnings in Egypt, primarily. Israel, too, could become a major source of earnings for the company as of next year.

Mediterranean Gas & Energy Week, key regional summit, starts tomorrow

Two of the Mediterranean’s most important summits, the 3rd Mediterranean Oil & Gas Summit and the 8th Balkans Petroleum, have merged for Mediterranean Gas & Energy Week, a major online oil & gas event, taking place take January 19 to 21.

Following the success of the Global E&P Summit and the regional Africa Upstream, Gas & LNG Summit, North Africa’s governments will be gathering again to meet with European and Balkans officials and IOCs at the Mediterranean Gas & Energy Week, organized by IN-VR, global leader in investment networking.

Key IOCs, investors and service providers will present their new opportunities and solutions, and network with attendees
online.

Top-ranked government officials from the region, including Greece, Montenegro, Malta and Albania, will present their licensing rounds, LNG mega-projects, and new midstream projects, together with the Mediterranean’s most-established investors and new players, including Shell, TAQA Arabia, Dana Gas and Enagas.

Also, over its three days, the event promises to be filled with networking opportunities and the latest upstream and midstream developments.

Participants will include:

● Vladan Dubljević, Director, Montenegro Hydrocarbon Administration
● Alexandra Sdoukou, Secretary General for Energy and Mineral Resources, Ministry of the Environment and Energy of Greece
● Adrian Bylyku, Executive Director, AKBN
● Dr Albert Caruana, Director General, Continental Shelf Department, Office of the Prime Minister, Malta
● Khaled Abu Bakr, Executive Chairman, TAQA Arabia
● Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO, Dana Gas
● Francisco de la Flor, Director of International Organizations, Enagas
● Morris J. Becker, Senior Exploration Geoscientist – Portfolio & New Business, Middle East and Africa, Shell
● Charles Ellinas, CEO, EC Cyprus Natural Hydrocarbons Company Ltd (eCNHC)

ELPE lockdown impact fears expressed amid poorer conditions

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE chief executive Andreas Siamissis has expressed fears of the latest lockdown’s impact on fuel consumption, which he will believes will be considerable, during a presentation of third quarter results to analysts.

Narrowed refining margins, which dropped to historic lows during the third quarter, combined with a drop in demand, resulted in unprecedently difficult conditions, ELPE officials noted.

However, rays of hope have emerged for an imminent improvement in refining margins, they added.

Elpedison, ELPE’s joint energy venture with Italy’s Edison, registered a strong power generation performance, up 31 percent in the nine-month period, aided by competitively priced LNG for its production units, company officials informed.

Electricity sales rose by 5 percent, while operating profit reached 43 million euros, from 15 million euros a year earlier.

As for the natural gas market, the commercial activity of gas utility DEPA, in which ELPE holds a 35 percent stake, increased in the third quarter.

DEPA – whose two new entities, DEPA Commercial and DEPA Infrastructure, are both headed for privatization in a procedure that is expected to be completed by March, 2021 – reported a 3Q volume-based sales increase of 48 percent. Its EBITDA figure moved up to 18 million euros, up from 6 million euros a year earlier.

ELPE’s list of imminent RES projects has more-than-doubled compared to last year, the company officials informed.

Africa Upstream, LNG & Gas Summit taking place tomorrow

Following the success of the online Oil & Gas Summit, hundreds of EPs and service providers are gathering to listen to Africa’s biggest E&P opportunities, expand their partnerships and prospects at the Africa Upstream, Gas & LNG Summit, taking place tomorrow.

Speakers include: Ritu Sahajwalla, Managing Director, Greenville LNG; Ian Simm, Principal Advisor, IGM Energy; Keith Hill, President & CEO, Africa Oil corp; Harriet Okwi, Consultant & Founder, Okwi & Partners; Immanuel Mulunga, Managing Director, NAMCOR; Martin Bawden, Business Development Manager, Zebra Data Sciences; Gbemi Otudeko, Principal, Actis; Matt Tyrrell, Chief Geologist, TROIS Geoconsulting; Philippe Herve, VP Energy, SparkCognition; Adeleye Falade, General Manager Production, Nigeria LNG; Brian Marcus, Head, Capital Management, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc; Tabrez Khan, Director, EMEIA Oil & Gas Transactions, Ernst & Young; Mike Lakin, Founder and Owner, Envoi, Allan Mugisha, Project Manager, Springfield E&P; Gil Holzman, President & CEO, Eco Atlantic Oil & Gas; Chryssa Tsouraki, Co-CEO, IN-VR; Gawie Kanjemba, Lawyer and Energy Specialist; Scott Macmillan, Managing Director, Invictus Energy; Gregory Germani, Managing Director, West African Gas Pipeline Company; Kadijah Amoah, Country Director, Aker Energy; Eyas Alhomouz, CEO, Petromal; Duncan Rushworth, VP Business Developmemt, Svenska Petroleum; Rogers Beall, Executive Chairman, Africa Fortesa Corporation; Oumarou Maidagi . D, Head of Exploration & Production, Ministry of Hydrocarbons; Peter Dekker, Chief Geophysicist, PetroSA; Tom Perkins, Director, Stellar Energy Advisors Limited; Yann Yangari, Head of New Business, Strategy and Intelligence, Gabon Oil; Monica Chamussa, Exploration Manager, ENH; David Boggs, Managing Director, Energy Maritime Associates Pte Ltd; Jorg Kohnert, Managing Director, Jagal; Amina Benkhadra, General Director, National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines, ONHYM; Jeremy Asher, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Tower Resources plc; and Khaled AbuBakr, Executive Chairman and Co-founder, TAQA Arabia.

 

 

Oil firms troubled by heating subsidy revision for gas, firewood inclusion

Petroleum product traders are troubled by government thoughts to broaden the eligibility of heating subsidy support so that, besides heating fuel, three new categories, natural gas, firewood and pellets, are also added to the list.

Contrary to natural gas, heating fuel is overtaxed, while the encouragement, through subsidies, of firewood as a heating source does not make environmental sense given the high levels of resulting smog, petroleum industry sources have pointed out.

High levels of smog have been recorded in Greek cities during winters over the past decade or so as struggling households have sought lower-cost heating amid the recession.

Heating subsidies are already limited and barely cover the needs of underprivileged households, petroleum industry officials have noted, fearing their share of the total could diminish if other heating sources also become eligible.

Heating fuel supply for the approaching winter season began yesterday at a level of 77 cents per liter, 2 cents lower than the price level at the close of last season’s trading, in May. Heating fuel prices are forecast to remain low, sources said.

Despite the lower price level, demand was subdued on opening day, yesterday. Many consumers took advantage of last season’s price drop and are already stocked up. In addition, temperatures around Greece remain mild.

ELPE seeking greater North Macedonia market share

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, aiming to capture a bigger share of the North Macedonian market, is currently negotiating for extrajudicial solutions that would enable the reopening of a company oil pipeline linking Thessaloniki with Skopje.

In an effort to help resolve this issue, ELPE has proposed a series of RES investments in the neighboring country as well as a conversion of its Okta refinery into a petroleum products hub facilitating distribution to the western Balkans.

December will be a crucial month for the negotiations between ELPE and North Macedonia as a verdict is scheduled to be delivered on an ELPE compensation request for 32 million dollars for a breach, by the neighboring country, of contractual obligations concerning minimum supply amounts between 2008 and 2011.

The North Macedonian oil market is dominated by two Russian companies, Gazprom and Lukoil, both gaining further ground. Gazprom supplies fuel products to North Macedonia via Serbia and Lukoil does so from Bulgaria.

US officials, seeking to inhibit the dominance of Russian energy firms in North Macedonia, have intervened to help resolve the country’s differences with ELPE.

Just days ago, a meeting on ELPE’s effort to reopen the oil pipeline was held in Thessaloniki during an official visit to the city by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. US government officials, Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and North Macedonian government deputies participated.

For quite some time now, Washington has made clear its stance aiming to limit Europe’s energy dependence on Russian companies and, as a result, is promoting the ELPE oil pipeline as an alternative supply route into North Macedonia.

 

ELPE negotiating reopening of North Macedonia oil pipeline

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, Greek government and North Macedonian officials have begun talks aiming for the reopening of an oil pipeline linking ELPE’s Thessaloniki refinery with the company’s Okta refinery in the neighboring country through an extrajudicial settlement by the end of the year.

The issue was discussed at a meeting in Thessaloniki yesterday, held on the sidelines of a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

At the meeting, the ELPE and North Macedonian government officials appeared keen on achieving an out-of-court settlement, sources informed.

The Greek petroleum group is seeking compensation of 32 million dollars for a breach, by the neighboring country, of contractual obligations concerning minimum supply amounts between 2008 and 2011.

ELPE has already won an older case, on the same issue, at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris for compensation worth 52 million dollars. This verdict was delivered in 2007, three years after the case was filed.

The Greek and North Macedonian sides, encouraged by the US, agreed to form a committee to work, until mid-October, on a solution that could enable the oil pipeline to reopen following a seven-year interruption, sources informed.

The officials have set a deadline to reopen the pipeline by the end of the year, sources added.

ELPE has completed all technical work needed for the oil pipeline’s relaunch, sources said. The pipeline’s use in place of oil tankers would offer drastic transportation cost cuts.

The ELPE officials updated North Macedonia’s government officials on the company’s investment plan for the neighboring country, sources said. It is believed to include RES investments and a conversion of ELPE’s Okta facilities into a petroleum products hub that would serve the western Balkans.

ELPE is already present in Serbia and Montenegro and is now targeting the markets of Albania and Kosovo for supply of ready-to-use petroleum products.

The oil pipeline stopped operating in 2013 after ELPE deemed its Okta refining activities were no longer feasible. The 213-km pipeline has a 350,000-metric ton capacity.

Until 2013, the pipeline was used to transfer crude oil from ELPE’s Thessaloniki refinery to the Okta unit in Skopje.

Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis chaired yesterday’s meeting, which involved the participation of secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou; deputy minister for economic diplomacy Kostas Fragogiannis; ELPE president Giannis Papathanasiou; ELPE chief executive Andreas Siamisiis; North Macedonian government deputies Liupko Nikolovski and Fatmit Bitikji; the country’s economy minister Kreshnik Bekteshi; US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon; and the US Ambassador to North Macedonia Kate Marie Byrnes.

Greece is ‘hydrocarbon-promising, strategically located’

By Mr. Tassos Vlassopoulos

CEO of Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) Upstream

Greece has an old connection with hydrocarbons. More than 2,500 years ago, Herodotus mentioned the famous oil seep in Keri Zakynthos that still brings oil to the surface.

However, this connection is not only ancient. Besides the still producing Prinos Oil field and the verified West Katakolo Oil and Gas field, recent exploration activity has generated interest in the Greek hydrocarbons sector.

Oil and gas exploration began prior to the 2nd World War and intensified in late 70s to late 90s. A new turn was taken after 2015, as the collection of some new data was completed, prompting the proposal of new ideas.  International oil companies (e.g. TOTAL, ExxonMobil, Repsol, Edison), proceeded in several ventures in Greece and ELPE Upstream became an attractive partner.

Greece’s west, both onshore and offshore, seems to share many similarities with well-established Albanian and Italian hydrocarbon areas. In addition, following recent discoveries in our broader region, blocks around Crete were carved out. Total, Exxon and Hellenic Petroleum will be exploring their deep waters.

Greece is still considered an under-explored area despite the fact that more than 70,000 km of 2D and 2,000 km2 of 3D seismic lines have been acquired in addition to about 100 wells that have been drilled. However, recent technological developments enable feasible exploration of deeper waters, assuming the prospects are promising.

Greece, apart from being a hydrocarbons-promising area, is also strategically located in the middle of Mediterranean. The country is situated at the crossroads for transporting gas, from the current or future producing fields in the Caspian and the Eastern Mediterranean, to Western Europe. IGB (Gas Interconnector to link Greece with Bulgaria), Poseidon, TAP and East-Med are at different stages of development, They will link Greece and Europe’s west with all producing regions in proximity and provide potential leverage for potential developments in the regions of western Greece and Crete.

Oil and gas remains a key element of the energy mix, though the discussion on climate change continues and renewable energy solution costs have been declining. Natural gas is the transitional fuel, as we move away from coal and trend towards renewables. Electric vehicles are penetrating selected markets but not yet on a large scale, globally. Oil remains the main fuel for all other modes of transportation and petrochemicals have no real alternatives in the foreseeable future.

Tension rises as Turkish vessel enters Greek continental shelf

The situation concerning the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis, which entered the easternmost point of the Greek continental shelf yesterday, is unchanged today, the Athens-Macedonian News Agency has reported.

Oruc Reis is accompanied by Turkish naval units, while the situation is being monitored by the Greek Armed Forces, the Greek news agency has reported.

Tension has re-escalated in the east Mediterranean since yesterday afternoon, with Turkey disputing, in practice, the Greek-Egyptian EEZ agreement through the presence and maneuvering of its Oruc Reis research vessel and Turkish warships.

Turkish survey systems are believed to be ready for application, but, according to Greek estimates, research work cannot proceed as a result of noise being generated by nearby ships, both Greek and Turkish.

Greek navy units, lined up opposite the Turkish ships, are seeking to prompt a Turkish withdrawal. The Greek Air Force and Army are also on standby.

Posting on Twitter, Cagatay Erciyes, a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official, noted that Greece has created problems because of a 10-square-kilometer Greek island named Kastellorizo, which lies 2 kilometers away from the Turkish mainland and 580 kilometers from the Greek mainland.

“Greece is claiming 40,000 km2 of maritime jurisdiction area due to this tiny island and attempting to stop the Oruc Reis and block Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.

“This maximalist claim is not compatible with international law. It is against the principle of equality. Yet Greece is asking the EU and US to support this claim and put pressure on Turkey to cease its legitimate offshore activities. This is not acceptable and reasonable,” he said.

Cyprus has responded by issuing a Navtex of its own, effective from today until August 23, through which it notifies that the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis and accompanying vessels are conducting illegal operations within Cyprus’ EEZ.

Prinos field rescue effort now at the finance ministry

A government effort to rescue offshore Prinos, Greece’s only producing field, in the north, is now in the hands of the finance ministry following preceding work at the energy ministry, sources have informed.

The field, like the wider upstream industry, has been impacted by the pandemic and plunge in oil prices.

Deputy finance minister Theodoros Skylakakis is now handling the Prinos rescue case following the transfer of a related file from the energy ministry.

According to the sources, three scenarios are being considered. A financing plan through a loan with Greek State guarantees appears to be the top priority. A second option entails the utilization of an alternate form of state aid. The other consideration involves the Greek State’s equity participation in the Prinos field’s license holder, Energean Oil & Gas.

The European Commission will need to offer its approval to any of these options as they all represent forms of state aid.

Energy ministry sources have avoided offering details but are confident a solution is in the making.

Ministry OKs environmental study for blocks south of Crete

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has approved a strategic environmental impact study concerning an offshore area south of Crete in preparation for tenders to offer exploration and production licenses for two blocks covering most of the island’s width.

Giannis Basias, the former head official at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, went ahead with the strategic environmental impact study last August to clear the way for government authorities to stage tenders for licenses and also spare  winning bidders of needing to wait for pending issues to be resolved before they can begin their exploration efforts.

In addition, it is believed EDEY took swift action for the environmental impact study covering the offshore area south of Crete in response to interest expressed by oil majors.

The two offshore blocks south of Crete measure a total of 33,933 square kilometers and cover all four prefectures spread across the island.

These vacant blocks are situated next to two blocks southwest and west of Crete that have already been licensed out to a three-member consortium headed by Total with ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum as partners.

The eastern flank of these two blocks is intruded by a corridor defined in a recent Turkish-Libyan maritime deal.

The Greek energy ministry’s approval of the strategic environmental impact study for south of Crete is not linked to Turkey’s heightened provocations in the Aegean Sea, ministry officials told energypress.

The environmental study’s approval means this offshore area is now set for tenders and also sends out a signal of readiness to the international upstream industry, the ministry officials explained.

Just days ago, the newly appointed EDEY administration and the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou met with officials of Total, operator of the consortium holding the two licenses southwest and west of Crete. Seismic surveys for these blocks will be completed by March next year, the Total officials appear to have promised.