ELPE, PPC among firms eyeing DEPA Trade majority stake

The field of contenders believed to be examining a majority stake (50% plus one share) of DEPA Trade to soon be offered through a tender include Promitheas (Copelouzos, Gazprom), Motor Oil, Mytilineos and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), which revealed an interest in the natural gas market last week, while presenting group results.

The main power utility PPC another firm that has indicated it intends to enter the gas market to offset anticipated losses in the electricity market is another possibility. However, PPC’s financial standing and ability to access capital markets could prove to be an obstacle.

Promitheas has shown particular interest in DEPA’s international agreements, Motor Oil is looking closely at EPA Attiki, the gas utility DEPA’s supply firm covering the wider Athens area, while Mytilineos appears to be focused on the utility’s international trade and gas supply activity.

An energy ministry draft bill splitting DEPA into two new corporate entities, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure, ahead of the utility’s bailout-required privatization was ratified in Greek parliament late last week.

The tender offering a majority stake in DEPA Trade is expected to be launched in about one month. The privatization fund will not wait for the procedures concerning DEPA’s split to be completed before launching the DEPA Trade tender. Investors will be offered a minority stake in DEPA Infrastructure at a latter date.

 

Elpedison set to begin importing gas via Bulgarian link in 2019

Energy firm Elpedison has finalized all details, including grid capacity reservations, to begin importing natural gas into Greece as of 2019 via the Greek-Bulgarian interconnection, according to sources.

The company’s move, promising to add Elpedison to a growing number of major domestic energy players engaging in cross-border natural gas trade, aims to improve the firm’s supply mix and bolster its portfolio.

Elpedison is expected to begin importing at levels of 500 MWh with a view to increasing amounts.

Besides the gas utility DEPA, three private-sector players, Promitheas – a member of the Copelouzos group – Mytilineos and Heron, are already importing natural gas through the Greek-Bulgarian border.

The Greek-Bulgarian border was opened for natural gas trade in 2017 following agreements signed by the respective gas grid operators of the two countries.

Elpedison’s turn to natural gas follows its already heightened level of cross-border electricity trading activity, reaching as far as central Europe and Hungary.

Elpedison, on a positive course, is expected to end 2018 with favorable EBITDA results.

 

DESFA system overload action premature, importers contend

DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, has called for an emergency meeting today to update natural gas market authorities on the abnormal current market conditions, needed adjustments and consequences of last week’s significant reduction in gas consumption levels. The reduced demand was caused by a series of factors.

The recent need to reduce reservoir levels and place emphasis on hydropower facility generation as a result of increased rainfall as well as increased RES production are the two main reasons that have led to lower-than-expected demand for natural gas at gas-fueled power stations. Also, higher temperatures have lowered consumer demand at the EPA gas supply companies.

As a result of all these factors, the country’s natural gas infrastructure is now experiencing an overload, according to DESFA. Subsequently, the operator has ordered gas importers to reduce their inflows at the country’s supply points.

The country’s importers – DEPA (Public Gas Corporation), Promitheas and M&M Gas – have raised objections as they contend pipeline capacities are still well below maximum levels, sources informed.

The country’s natural gas pipeline infrastructure is currently holding 25.5 million cubic meters, well under the maximum level of 45 million cubic meters. Even so, DESFA has called for emergency action.

Natural gas importers are likely to file complaints to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, over system overload penalties imposed by DESFA, which, they contend, has acted prematurely.

 

Increased gas trading activity at Sidirokastro entry point

The implementation of a Capacity Allocation Mechanism (CAM) at Greece’s gas entry point in Sidirokastro, on the Greek-Bulgarian border, has led to increased trading activity.

The mechanism is designed to facilitate gas transport and trading in the EU.

As a result, a greater number of importers and suppliers are now purchasing natural gas amounts at this border point. More specifically, three gas companies have imported gas amounts from the Sidirokastro gateway, whose capacity was fully covered until recently.

However, full implementation of an interconnection agreement, still encountering practical issues, is needed to further facilitate trade.

Besides DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, two more firms, Promitheas (Copelouzos, Gazprom) and M&M (Mytilineos, Motor Oil Hellas) are now actively involved in gas imports. ELFE has also purchased gas amounts at the border. So, too, have a number of traders and industrial consumers, such as the energy firms Heron and Cedalion, as well as Yioula, Greece’s biggest glasswork industry, and Elval (Hellenic Aluminium Industry).

The increased activity is reshaping market shares. Promitheas currently holds approximately 20 percent of the gas import market, while M&M, supplying industrial consumers, has also gained a considerable share.

Increased import potential is also possible at Kipoi, the Greek gas system’s second-biggest entry point (to and from Turkey). Negotiations concerning the implementation of an interconnection agreement and CAM system at this entry point are now in progress.

Efforts have been made in the past to forge an opening towards the east. A big market, Turkey would offer major trading opportunities if obstacles are cleared.