ELPE upbeat on relaunch of Thessaloniki-Skopje oil pipeline

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE has acknowledged the governments of Greece and North Macedonia are working intensely for the reopening of an oil pipeline linking the petroleum group’s Thessaloniki refinery with its Okta subsidiary refinery in the neighboring country’s capital, Skopje, estimating the pipeline will reopen in the first quarter of 2022.

The pipeline has remained closed since 2016. ELPE has already proceeded with necessary maintenance work to protect the pipeline from internal corrosion and ensure it will be ready to operate once administrative and bureaucratic procedures have been completed.

A report published by ELPET Valkaniki, a fully owned ELPE subsidiary for Balkan markets, noted that OKTA stopped processing crude oil early in 2013 for business reasons after deciding to operate commercially with imports of finished products, a move that kept the pipeline inactive.

 

North Macedonia energy business opportunities for local players

Greek companies stand a great chance of gaining further presence in North Macedonia’s energy market through participation in projects and investments promising to contribute to the country’s diversification of energy sources and capture a bigger energy-mix share for green energy, the neighboring country’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev made clear during comments in Athens yesterday.

North Macedonia appears determined to reduce its dependence on Russian fossil fuels and also cut back on carbon emissions, objectives offering investment opportunities for Greek energy groups, currently eyeing the neighboring market as part of plans to increase their business interests abroad.

The North Macedonian leader said yesterday that an agreement concerning the relaunch of Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s Thessaloniki-Skopje oil pipeline is nearing finalization.

“The idea is to have reached an agreement with them by the end of May so that this important pipeline can begin operating,” Zaev remarked.

The oil pipeline’s reopening would be combined with the conversion of ELPE’s North Macedonian OKTA refinery into a petroleum products distribution hub covering the western Balkan region.

ELPE currently operates 27 petrol stations in North Macedonia through its OKTA subsidiary. Also active in Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, the Greek petroleum group operates over 200 petrol stations in the wider region.

Zaev added that North Macedonia is involved in negotiations with a Greek company, presumed to be Mytilineos, for the development of a natural gas-fueled power station in the capital, Skopje. These talks, however, still appear to be at an early stage.

Also this week, Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas told participants of the Delphi Economic Forum that a bilateral agreement for a Greek-North Macedonian gas pipeline interconnection is virtually ready and awaiting the approval of European authorities.

For North Macedonia, this gas pipeline project would end Russia’s monopoly in the country’s gas market, enabling more competitive gas prices and reinforced supply security, while for Greece, the gas pipeline’s development would represent a further step in the country’s objective to transform into a regional gas hub.