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.

Pros and cons for refineries, fuel demand sliding

The drop in oil prices as a result of the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia and the coronavirus spread presents a major challenge for petroleum firms.

Brent crude’s 30 percent plunge last Monday inflicted major damage on companies stocked with petroleum products, Greek refinery officials informed, as these products had been  purchased at previously higher prices.

The market volatility, however, has also created opportunities, namely lower-cost supply of raw materials without the need for high working capital. Operating costs have dropped considerably.

The major concern at refineries and petroleum product trading companies is demand, or fuel consumption, expected to drop amid the growing number of mobility restrictions being imposed by governments around the world in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Demand for gasoline and diesel has dropped since last weekend as a result of reduced transportation needs. This decline in fuel demand is expected to continue following latest preventive measures. The Greek government yesterday announced a measure closing all educational institutions for 15 days as of today.

Fuel demand levels during the year’s first two-month period were unchanged compared to a year earlier, but the month of March has already shown first signs of a decline. Many airlines are cancelling flights.

Petroleum companies fear a further deterioration from May onward, when Greece’s tourism season begins in earnest.

For the first time since 2009, the International Energy Agency has forecast a drop in petroleum consumption for 2020.

ELPE, well placed with marine fuels, also eyeing gas, renewable energy

Strategic decisions made by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) back in 2006 for an upgrade of the enterprise’s refinery in Elefsina, west of Athens, enabling production of the entire range of fuels, including new-era marine fuel, has provided flexibility for robust financial results.

Most refineries in the wider Mediterranean region are currently pressured by significantly narrowed profit margins. ELPE is an exception. Its ability to produce new low-suphur marine fuels has secured a strategic advantage over competitors.

Further investments currently being made in the company’s refinery division are expected to boost profit figures from levels of 700 to 800 million euros to one billion euros.

As part of its transformation for the future, ELPE is also striving for swifter growth in the renewable energy market. It aims to reach an operating RES capacity of 600 MW over the next two years. ELPE intends to participate in the next RES auction with facilities measuring 460 MW.

In the gas market, ELPE is closely following the forthcoming privatization of gas utility DEPA. The petroleum group, holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA, will either seek to acquire a full stake or sell its minority stake. The company wants a clear-cut solution.

Elsewhere, ELPE has already decided to sell its stake in distribution networks, promising a major cash influx.

In electricity, a final investment decision on the development of a new gas-fueled power station is expected by summer. This decision will greatly depend on the progress of the target model, as well as the government’s commitment to its decarbonization policy.

As for its hydrocarbon interests, ELPE plans to stage a first drilling operation at the Gulf of Patras block by the end of 2020. Seismic surveys at other blocks in its hydrocarbon porfolio are currently being conducted.

 

Jetoil placed on the comeback trail by new owner Centracore

Bankruptcy-struck oil trading company Jetoil, now controlled by Austria’s Centracore and on the rebound, has reclaimed approximately 15 percent of the fuel-station network it controlled prior to the rescue plan.

Jetoil now operates 83 fuel stations (DODO, dealer-owned, dealer-operated), primarily in northern Greece, as well as the Thessaly, Epirus and other mainland regions.

At the peak of Jetoil’s crisis in the summer of 2016 – when founder Kyriakos Mamidakis committed suicide, aged 84, not long after the company had filed for bankruptcy – the company’s retail network had shrunk to just 34 outlets.

A Jetoil rescue plan was approved Iast year. Strategic investor Centracore agreed to take on the company’s liabilities following a partial haircut.

Besides a purchase price of 107 million euros, the new Jetoil shareholder has invested 10 million euros to upgrade the company’s storage facility in Kalohori, on the outskirts of Thessaloniki.

Jetoil has increased its sales in Greece and achieved significantly higher exports since its takeover. Total sales for the first financial year since Centracore’s entry reached 420 million euros generated by a trading volume of 350,000 metric tons.

In a year, the company has achieved 35 percent of its business plan’s target, set at one million metric tons of trading volume, or a 10 percent Greek market share, including exports.

The strategic investor, maintaining access to Russian refineries, has admitted the decision to invest in Greece was based on export potential to Balkan markets. Centracore obtained a Greek trading license in July, 2018.

Centracore is a Vienna-based trading company headed by Luxembourg’s UFG Europe Holding, holding an 80.1 percent share and comprised of private equity funds. Russian Petroleum company Rosneft holds the other 19.9 percent.

Market analysts expect ELPE 50.1% sale to reach over €2bn

Market analysts, including HSBC, in a new report, expect the ELPE group (Hellenic Petroleum) sale offering a 50.1 percent stake to exceed 2 billion euros.

Besides the privatization’s higher aspirations generated by ELPE’s strong profit figures, including a streak of records, international analysts are also pointing to excellent prospects for the petroleum group over the next two years, at least, as well as its limited exposure to mazut.

ELPE’s share ended trading last Friday at 7.57 euros but the petroleum group’s privatization may escalate its share price by 50 percent to 11.7 euros, according to the recent HSBC report, covering refineries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Given a share price of 11.7 euros, a 50.1 percent stake of ELPE would be worth 1.78 billion euros. Adding a 20 percent premium to this figure for the petroleum firm’s management rights also offered in the sale increases the value to 2.1 billion euros.

ELPE, it should also be noted, is one of the wider region’s few refineries which, with a minimal amount of facility adjustments, will be capable of producing new environmentally friendly shipping fuels by 2020. This prospect, promising even higher profit levels at ELPE in the near future, is seen adding to the petroleum group’s appeal among investors.

According to latest developments, buyers will be asked to submit binding offers within the first quarter of 2019.

Two new participants, US firm Carlyle and Algeria’s Sonatrach, are believed to be discussing respective partnerships with the privatization’s list of two existing candidates, Switzerland’s Glencore and Dutch company Vitol. No official announcements have been made on the rumored Glencore-Carlyle and Vitol-Sonatrach pairings.

TAIPED, the privatization fund, has yet to set a deadline for new partnerships.