Shell gas prospects in Albania promising for Ioannina license

Albania’s prospects of significant oil and gas discoveries that could boost the country’s future and also play a big role in Europe’s energy future, as announced by Prime Minister Edi Rama, could spell good news for a nearby Greek license in the country’s northwestern Epirus region.

Dutch energy giant Shell, a company that likes to keep its cards close to its chest, is preparing for drilling activities at Albania’s Shpirag 5 license, following successful exploration at Shpirag 4, which has delivered production totaling many thousands of barrels per day.

Shell Upstream Albania, Shell’s Albanian subsidiary, has been active in the neighboring country since 2018, pledging to invest more than 40 million euros over a seven-year period.

As for the Epirus license, in Greece’s wider Ioannina area, a consortium comprising Repsol and Energean has invested over 40 million euros, primarily for a seismic survey conducted in 2018 and 2019, a procedure through which an area to be further explored has been identified.


Shell, Inaccess to deploy Unity platform in hybrid PV+Wind 100MW Dutch project

As renewable energy penetration increases, many grid operators and consequently developers are facing challenges due to reduced grid capacity. The Netherlands is one of the countries dealing with such challenges stemming from the fast growth of its renewable energy sector during the last couple of years.

One of the solutions to circumvent grid congestion is to co-locate Solar and Wind plants. These types of generation assets complement each other very well since there is an abundance of solar energy during the day and in the summer months while there is plenty of wind during the winter months.

This complementary nature of solar and wind can stabilize the intermittent nature of the energy production and maximize grid connection utilization, leading to significant benefits in terms of dispatchability, flexibility, and reliability.

Shell, as part of its global push in the renewable energy space, developed a hybrid asset in the Netherlands. The power plant consists of a 50MW photovoltaic power plant and a 50MW wind farm.

In order to control and monitor this complex project, Shell worked with Inaccess, a global leader in control and monitoring solutions for renewable energy projects. Building on their successful cooperation for utility-scale projects in Australia and the EMEA region, Shell and Inaccess will continue collaborating on a project pipeline in various countries.

The Unity system of Inaccess optimizes the operation of modern renewable power plants and portfolios encompassing PV, Batteries, Wind and Microgrids by offering:

  • Fine-tuned control: low-level distributed control architecture and grid interaction
  • Crystallizing and Centralizing by providing accurate data acquisition and scalability
  • Maximizing energy production by identifying and evaluating cases of underperformance
  • Optimizing market revenues by minimizing imbalance costs and maximizing Energy Capture Price

The integrated nature of the Unity system ensures “no-excuses” accurate monitoring, control and optimization and acts as the single version of truth among the EPC, O&M, Asset Management, and Market Management ecosystem, thus eliminating inefficiencies.

Co-locating wind farms with solar assets provides more grid-friendly power that is necessary in today’s congested grids. This pairing has the potential to disrupt and transform many renewable energy markets globally that are facing similar challenges.

About Shell

Shell companies have operations in more than 70 countries and territories with businesses including oil and gas exploration and production; production and marketing of liquefied natural gas and gas to liquids; manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and chemicals and renewable energy projects. For further information, visit

Globally, Shell is building an integrated power business that will provide customers with low-carbon and renewable energy solutions. Shell Renewables and Energy Solutions spans trading, generation and supply. We offer integrated energy solutions including hydrogen, solar, wind and electric-vehicle charging at scale, while buying nature-based carbon credits and using technology to capture emissions from hard-to-abate sectors of the energy system. Today Shell has deployed or is developing more than 6 gigawatts of wind power generation capacity across North America, Europe, the UK and Asia, and in January 2022 Shell secured the seabed leases to develop up to 5 gigawatts of floating offshore wind in the ScotWind leasing round.

Shell’s target is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050. For more information on our net-zero emissions customer-first strategy visit here.

About Inaccess

With a global presence, Inaccess is an innovative company providing centralized management solutions for Renewable Energy and Telecom infrastructure, mostly offered on a turn-key basis.

Inaccess is one of the largest independent solar SCADA leaders in the world with a cumulative portfolio of more than 30 GWp across more than 2500 sites and 57 countries. Our singular focus is to provide high-quality solutions to our clients (EPCs, O&Ms, Developers, and Funds) for better and effective management of their renewable assets.

Inaccess has the team capacity to implement the Plant SCADA system in many plants in parallel, allowing us to deliver several GWs in solar and storage projects annually around the world.

The Inaccess group is acknowledged as one of the leading independent monitoring providers for the utility-scale PV and Battery Storage segment globally. Inaccess has significant activity in wind, hybrid, mini-grid, and off-grid RES projects as well.

East Med regains attention as EU reshapes gas strategy

The energy crisis, skyrocketing natural gas prices, and the EU’s new energy policy, aiming to end the continent’s reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible, are developments creating bigger prospects for the East Med pipeline, whose development could upgrade Greece’s role in the energy sector as well as geopolitically.

Importantly, higher gas prices have boosted the feasibility of the East Med pipeline project, a prospective 2,000-km pipeline planned to carry natural gas to Europe via Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy, as was supported yesterday by Edison CEO Nicola Monti.

The US withdrew its support for the project in January, citing technical and commercial sustainability concerns. Many analysts have forecast gas price levels will remain elevated for an extended period, which could make East Med a profitable investment for companies that construct and operate the pipeline.

Earlier this week, the European Commission announced its ambitious Repower EU roadmap, prioritizing the search for alternative natural gas sources and supply routes as a means of ending the continent’s reliance on Russian gas.

East Mediterranean gas deposits are well positioned, close to European markets. It remains unclear as to whether it would be more beneficial to transport these gas quantities in the form of LNG or via the East Med pipeline.

Given the bolstered bargaining power of gas producers and LNG exporters, the EU could be better off pursuing a pipeline solution. Also, Shell’s forecast of an LNG shortage in international markets from 2025 onwards should be kept in mind.

Gas developments in the East Med

The international oil companies (IOCs) are still reeling under the impact of low oil and gas prices and massive losses and asset write-offs during 2020. ExxonMobil, under increasing pressure, is considering further spending cuts and even a shake-up of its board.

The path to full recovery will be slow and at the end of it, in 2-3 years, the IOCs will be different, placing more emphasis on clean energy and renewables.

In the meanwhile, around the East Med, Egypt is forging ahead. It has signed a new exploration agreement with Shell for an offshore block in the Red Sea. This is in addition to the 22 agreements signed during 2020 that included major IOCs such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, Eni and Total. Moreover, EGPC and EGAS are planning to offer onshore and offshore exploration blocks for bidding in February.

This continuing activity led to the discovery of 47 oil and 15 natural gas fields in 2020, 13% more than in 2019, despite Covid-19.

Tareq El-Molla, Egypt’s petroleum minister, signaled earlier this month Egypt’s intention to expand its petrochemicals sector to take advantage of the country’s expanding hydrocarbon resources. Egypt has updated its petrochemical national plan until 2023 to meet the increasing prospects in this industry.

LNG exports

Egypt has also benefited from the recent increase in LNG prices, resuming exports from its liquefaction plant at Idku, with most exports going to China, India and Turkey. The country is also ready to resume exports from its second liquefaction plant at Damietta starting end February. This has been lying idle since 2012 due to disputes that have now been resolved.

LNG exports will mainly utilize surplus gas from the Zohr gasfield and possibly imports from Israel, should prices allow it.

In fact, the resumption of LNG exports from Idku relieved some of the pressure on Egypt’s gas market, which is in oversupply partly due to impact of the pandemic, but also due to falling gas demand in Egypt’s power sector and growth in renewable energy.

El-Molla said that Egypt is planning a revival of its LNG exports. But this depends greatly on what happens to global markets and prices.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that the Asian LNG demand and price spike in January was a short-term phenomenon and it is not an indicator that global demand will rebound in 2021. The IEA expects only a small recovery in global gas demand this year, after the decline in 2020, partly due to the pandemic. But given ongoing concerns over the pandemic, the rate of gas demand growth will remain uncertain. The IEA said the longer-term future of LNG markets remains challenging.

Gas from Israel

Chevron – having acquired Noble Energy and its interests in the region last year – with Delek and their partners in Israel’s Leviathan and Tamar gasfields, signed an agreement to invest $235million in a new subsea pipeline, expanding existing facilities. According to an announcement by Delek, the pipeline will connect facilities at Israeli city Ashod to the EMG pipeline at Ashkelon, enabling Chevron and its partners to increase gas exports to Egypt to as much as 7billion cubic meters annually (bcm/yr).

The partners signed agreements last year to export as much as 85bcm/yr gas to Egypt over a 15 year period. Gas supplies from Israel to Egypt started in January last year.

It is not clear at this stage if new agreements will be reached to fully utilize the increased export capacity from Israel to Egypt, but given Egypt’s gas oversupply this may not be likely.

These developments, though, show the vulnerability of Cyprus and the weakness of relying on trilateral alliances with Egypt and Israel for its gas exports.

EastMed gas pipeline

This is being kept alive by regional politicians. Only this week, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia confirmed their support for the EastMed gas pipeline.

While such developments are good politically, bringing like-minded countries around the East Med closer together, they are not sufficient to advance the project. This requires private investment and buyers of the gas in Europe. None of these is forthcoming, because the project is not commercially viable. By the time the gas arrives in Europe it will be too expensive to compete with existing, much cheaper, supplies.

Europe is also moving away from gas and from new gas pipeline projects. Catharina Sikow Magny, Director DG Energy European Commission (EC), covered this at the European Gas Virtual conference on 28 January. Answering the question how much natural gas will the EU need in the future, she said ZERO. She was emphatic that with the EU committed to net zero emissions by 2050, by then there will be zero unabated gas consumed in Europe. In addition, with the EU having increased the emissions reduction target from 40% to 55% by 2030, the use of gas in Europe will be decreasing in order to meet the 2030 and 2050 climate targets. She said that ongoing natural gas projects are expected to be completed by 2022 – with no more needed after that.

With exports to global markets becoming increasingly difficult, there are other regional options to make use of the gas discovered so far around the East Med, including power generation in support of intermittent renewables and petrochemicals, as Egypt is doing. The newly constituted East Med Gas Forum (EMGF) should place these at the heart of its agenda.

What about Cyprus?

Hydrocarbon exploration activities around Cyprus are at a standstill, partly due to the continuing impact of Covid-19, but also due to the dire state of the IOCs and the challenges being faced by the natural gas industry in general.

This lack of activity in resuming offshore exploration may be a blessing, taking the heat off hydrocarbons, while priorities shift to discussions to resolve the Cyprus problem and the Greece-Turkey maritime disputes.

Dr Charles Ellinas, @CharlesEllinas

Senior Fellow

Global Energy Center

Atlantic Council

3 February, 2021


Motor Oil launches west Balkan growth plan, under Shell brand, in Croatia

Petroleum retailer Coral, a member of the Motor Oil group, is eyeing west Balkan markets, troubled by gasoline and diesel quality and trading concerns, on the strength of the strong Shell brand name it represents.

The Motor Oil group acquired Shell Hellas in 2010 in a deal licensing the company to market the multinational’s brands. Motor Oil then renamed Shell Hellas as Coral and, approximately four years ago, founded companies in North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Serbia.

Coral’s acquisition of a 75 percent stake in petroleum retailer Apios, holding a 3 percent share of the Croatian market and operating 26 petrol stations in the country, represents the beginning of the Greek firm’s growth plan for the west Balkan region, company officials said.

Croatia, this investment plan’s launch pad, is backed by robust economic projections. The country’s tourism industry has enjoyed solid growth over the past two years, generating increased revenues for petroleum firms.

Beyond Croatia, Coral plans to soon open two petrol stations in North Macedonia, under the Shell brand name. The company is also planning to enter the markets of Albania and Montenegro, where it also maintains the rights to use the Shell brand name.

Coral already operates five petrol stations in Serbia and is preparing to launch an additional six in this country.


DEPA Comm VDR open; 5-year stay for Infrastructure buyer

The video data room for the privatization procedure of DEPA Commercial, one of two new gas utility DEPA entities placed for sale, is now open to prospective bidders, but initial information made available is limited to non-financial details.

Financial details on DEPA Commercial will be made available as a second step to all consultants representing the potential buyers, while a third and final stage will follow to conditionally offer bidders confidential information in person at the DEPA headquarters.

As previously reported, the second-round, binding-bids deadline for the DEPA Commercial sale, offering investors a 65 percent stake, has been extended to March, 2021.

The field of second-round qualifiers is comprised of two partnerships, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) with Edison and power utility PPC with Motor Oil Hellas, plus Mytilineos, TERNA, the Copelouzos group, Shell, and the Swiss-based MET Group.

As for DEPA Infrastructure, the other new DEPA entity up for sale, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis is preparing a legislative revision that will require the winning bidder to retain its company shares for a period of at least five years.

This condition will also apply for the DEPA Infrastructure subsidiaries EDA Attiki, EDA Thess and DEDA, the gas distributors covering the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki-Thessaly and rest of Greece, respectively. DEPA fully owns DEDA and EDA Attiki and holds a 51 percent stake in EDA Thess.

The DEPA Infrastructure binding-bids deadline has also been extended to the end of February, 2021. Italgas, EPH, First State Investments, KKR, Macquarie and Sino-CEEF have qualified for the final round.


Business plan, better results, new activities in DEPA Commercial VDR

The virtual data room for a forthcoming privatization to offer a 65 percent stake in DEPA Commercial, an offshoot of gas utility DEPA, expected to be opened for potential buyers to assess by the end of this week, will present a business plan, improved financial figures at DEPA, new company activities envisaged, as well as DEPA’s outlook on the course of the country’s natural gas market and the company’s position within it.

According to privatization fund TAIPED’s revised Asset Development Plan, participants will submit binding bids in December.

The field of first-round entries, comprising two consortiums and five companies, will have roughly three months to prepare binding bids, according to the schedule.

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE and Italy’s Edison are one of the privatization’s two participating consortiums, the other formed by power utility PPC and Motor Oil Hellas. The five individual participants are: Mytilineos, TERNA, Copelouzos group, Shell and the Swiss-based MET group.

New partnerships could be established by the field of participants as long as they do not affect the sale’s competition standards and have been approved by TAIPED.

The sale of DEPA Commercial is a major attraction for potential buyers as it offers a big slice of the wholesale and retail markets, including gas supplier Fysiko Aerio Attikis, a subsidiary covering the wider Athens area. Fysiko Aerio Attikis already serves close to 400,000 households and 10,000 businesses.

DEPA Infrastructure VDR open, DEPA Commercial data soon

A virtual data room has just been opened for the six bidding teams preparing to make second-round offers in the privatization of gas company DEPA Infrastracture, an offshoot of gas utility DEPA.

Czech company EPH, Italy’s Italgas, the Australian investment funds First State Investments and Macquarie, US firm KKR and China’s Sino-CEEF & Shanghai Dazhong Public Utilities now have access to all relevant data concerning the DEPA Infrastructure sale.

Another VDR is expected to be opened within the next few days for bidders participating in the privatization of DEPA Commercial, DEPA’s other entity up for sale.

The participants in this sale, seven entries in total, are: Motor Oil Hellas-PPC, ELPE-Edison, Mytilineos, GEK-TERNA, the Copelouzos group, Dutch company Shell and the Swiss-based MET Group.

VDR information for the DEPA Commercial sale will be made available over three phases as a protective measure intended to ensure competition. The first phase, offering non-sensitive data, will be open for all. Access to VDR information during the second stage, offering sensitive data, will be restricted to consultants. Bidders will be offered conditional access to confidential information in the third phase.

Greece’s privatization fund TAIPED is aiming to declare preferred bidders for both sales in the final quarter of this year. Market officials, however, believe this is more likely to occur in the first quarter of 2021.

DEPA Commercial bidders are allowed to team up and establish consortiums but partnerships for the DEPA Infrastructure sale are not permitted.

Bidders participating in the DEPA Commercial sale are mainly eyeing the company’s prized asset, retail gas supplier and subsidiary Fysiko Aerio Attikis, covering the wider Athens area. This company already serves close to 400,000 households and 10,000 businesses.

Seven bidders through to DEPA Commercial sale’s final round

The Board of Directors of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), during today’s meeting decided, that seven interested parties meet the criteria to participate in Phase B (Binding Offers Phase) of the tender process for the acquisition of 65% of the share capital of DEPA Commercial (Trade) S.A., with an option of acquiring the total of its issued share capital by virtue of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between DEPA S.A. shareholders, HRADF and Hellenic Petroleum S.A. (HELPE), the development fund has announced in a statement.

The prequalified interested parties to participate in Phase B of the tender are (in alphabetical order):


Following the signing of the relevant Confidentiality Agreement, the prequalified interested parties will receive the documents of Phase B (Binding Offers Phase) and will grant access to the virtual data room (VDR), where data and information related to DEPA Commercial S.A. are uploaded, the statement added.





DEPA Trade sale short list this month, sooner than expected

Privatization fund TAIPED is expected to announce its short list of final-round qualifiers in a tender offering a stake of at least 65 percent, possibly even 100 percent, of DEPA Trade – a new entity formed by gas utility DEPA as part of its privatization – within the next few weeks, far sooner than expected.

Deteriorated international investment conditions have prompted fears of a slower sale procedure.

The privatization fund, now close to finalizing its appraisals of nine first-round bids, has requested clarification from participants.

The DEPA Trade privatization was expected to drag well behind that of DEPA Infrastructure, seen as a lower-risk sale effort offering investors regulated earnings, but the two privatization efforts now appear likely to move ahead almost concurrently, or a few weeks apart.

A list of six final-round qualifiers in the DEPA Infrastructure sale was announced a week ago. Authorities are aiming to complete this sale towards the end of the year.

As for DEPA Trade, this entity promises the winning bidder an immediate advantage in Greece’s natural gas market as more than 200,000 customers around the country will be gained.

DEPA Trade’s wholesale gas trading activity is another appealing factor, despite the fact that it shrunk to 40 percent of the market’s total last year, as the growing southeast European market offers huge potential.



DEPA Trade sale’s PPC-Motor Oil union, Shell return surprise

The privatization of DEPA Trade – a new entity established by gas utility DEPA – offering the Greek State’s 65 percent stake in a procedure whose deadline for first-round offers expired yesterday, produced two surprises. Firstly, Shell reemerged in the country’s gas market following a withdrawal less than two years ago. Secondly, in an unanticipated move, power utility PPC teamed up with Motor Oil for a joint bid.

Shell departed from the Greek natural gas market in July, 2018 by selling its 49 percent stakes in gas supplier EPA Attiki and gas distributor EDA Attiki, both covering the wider Athens region, to DEPA.

Shell received a total of 150 million euros, 39 million for its 49 percent stake in EPA Attiki and 111 million euros for its 49 percent stake in EDA Attiki.

The company’s reemergence can be primarily attributed to an interest in DEPA’s long-term contracts with Gazprom, Sonatrach and Botas, with an eye on the wider Balkan and southeast European regions, sources said.

PPC and Motor Oil decided to join forces for the DEPA Trade sale as a result of the failure of both to secure slots for 2020 at gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens. PPC holds a 30 percent stake in its partnership with Motor Oil, sources informed.

Following its Revythoussa failure, PPC has been more aggressive in a market test for the Alexandroupoli FSRU, expiring today. PPC wants to secure a capacity at this prospective unit in the country’s northeast as the company is determined to have LNG access. A successful bid in the DEPA Trade sale would bolster this position.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Edison did not submit a joint bid for DEPA Trade through Elpedison, their joint venture for Greece’s retail energy market, as had been speculated. Instead, they are believed to have made separate bids. The two had not shaped a common action plan in the event of a successful DEPA Trade bid, sources said. However, the establishment of a new joint venture by the two firms at a latter stage, specifically for DEPA Trade, cannot be ruled out.

The country’s planned privatizations, including DEPA Trade, face likely delays as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s repercussions. The progress of these sales will depend on the course of the pandemic.

DEPA Trade’s first-round bidders forwarded their offers on-line and must follow up with deliveries of official documents by April 24. The evaluation of first-round offers is not expected to begin any sooner than April 25.

DEPA Trade offers due today, at least 7 players interested

Five Greek and two international investment groups are expected to submit bids for the DEPA Trade privatization, whose first-round deadline expires today at 5pm.

DEPA Trade was established as a new gas utility DEPA entity for the privatization, offering the Greek State’s 65 percent stake.

Bidders may also submit their expressions of interest online, via email, as a result of restrictive measures prompted by the coronavirus crisis, but will need to follow-up with official documents by April 24. The evaluation of first-round offers is not expected to begin any sooner than April 25.

The local bidders expected to submits bids, all leading energy players, are Mytilineos, GEK Terna, Motor Oil, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and the Copelouzos group.

ELPE plans to submit a joint bid in partnership with Edison, possibly through Elpedison, their joint venture for Greece’s retail energy market, sources informed.

The Copelouzos group is also working on delivering a joint offer, with Czech firm KKCG.

Shell is among the foreign companies looking interested, despite its sale, two years ago, of stakes in DEPA gas supply and distribution companies.

Dutch firm Vitol is the other foreign player believed to have been drawn to the DEPA Trade sale. Vitol had reached the final stage of an ELPE sale with Algeria’s Sonatrach as a bidding partner, but the pair ended up not submitting a binding offer.

Expressions of interest in DEPA Trade may also come from Swiss-based Hungarian firm Met Energy Holding, active in natural gas wholesale trade. This firm is already present in Hungary, Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine. Qatar’s Power Global is another possibility.

DEPA Trade’s portfolio includes 409,000 customers – households and businesses.


PPC expects major LNG tender turnout for 2.7 million MWh

Gas suppliers are expected to turn up in numbers for a power utility PPC tender expiring today with offers to provide three LNG shipments needed by the utility between March and May. PPC plans to purchase a total of 2.66 million MWh through this tender.

Between nine and ten gas suppliers, including major Greek and foreign LNG players, will submit offers, PPC has been informed, according to energypress sources.

Besides leading Greek gas traders, the procedure is expected to attract companies such as Rosneft, Eni Trading, Gunvor, Glencore, Shell, Cheniere and Tellurian.

All participants were required to sign Master Sale Agreements, committing them to their offers without any revisions.

PPC wants a first LNG shipment of 900,000 MWh on March 24, a second delivery of 815,000 MWh on April 21 and a third of 950,000 MWh on May 20.

Today’s tender confirms a change of strategy by PPC, searching markets around the world, from Asia to Qatar and the USA to Russia, for low-priced LNG.

The continual drop in LNG prices promises major cost savings for a company the size of PPC, requiring 1.35 bcm per year.


ND, if elected, wants 65% DEPA sale, not split and sale

The main opposition New Democracy party, if victorious in the July 7 snap elections, intends to privatize gas utility DEPA as one corporate entity, through the sale of a 65 percent stake, rather than through a split-and-sale procedure offering separate trading and infrastructure entities, as has been promoted by the ruling Syriza government, currently well behind in polls.

The role of Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), holding a 35 percent share of DEPA, will be influential when the time comes to make decisions.

Up until now, ELPE has indicated it would be interested in acquiring a 65 percent stake of DEPA Trade – one of the two DEPA entities envisioned by the government for the utility’s split and sale – either alone or with Italy’s Edison, ELPE’s strategic partner.

However, ELPE’s main shareholder, the Latsis group’s Paneuropean Oil, holding a 45.5 percent share, could revise its stance if DEPA’s new sale procedure is redrafted from scratch, as would most probably be the case with a conservative ND election victory.

During a parliamentary debate in March, ND party representatives clearly opposed Syriza’s plan for a DEPA split, describing it as an unnecessary, excessive and complicated approach that would ultimately suppress DEPA’s market value.

The DEPA split, forged by the energy ministry, is not listed as a bailout term, but the country did commit itself to a reduced retail gas market presence for DEPA. This demand was met some time ago when DEPA withdrew from gas supply firm EPA Thessaloniki-Thessaly and acquired Shell’s stakes in EPA Attiki and EDA Attiki, respective supply and distribution firms covering the wider Athens area.



EDEY to drum up Greek oil, gas hopes at Italy, Romania events

Spurred by recent significant gas field discoveries at Cypriot and Egyptian offshore blocks and the favorable prospects these have generated for the wider region, top officials at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, will be looking to attract major foreign investors to new Greek blocks at two industry events in Italy and Romania.

EDEY chairman Yiannis Basias, who is in Ravenna, Italy today to attend the Offshore Mediterranean Conference & Exhibition, a leading industry event, will be exploring the potential interest of oil majors, including Italy’s ENI, for new offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and off Crete to soon be licensed out.

EDEY chief’s deputy Spyros Bellas will follow up this effort in Bucharest at the Balkans & Black Sea Cooperation Forum, scheduled to take place April 4 and 5.

Tristan Aspray, ExxonMobil’s Vice President of Exploration for Europe, Russia, and the Caspian, hailed the wider region’s prospects at the recent Delphi Economic Forum in Greece. ExxonMobil is currently involved in exploration work being carried out in Romania.

Speaking earlier this month at London’s Global APPEX (Prospect & Property Expo), an event organized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), Bellas, EDEY’s deputy, presented a road map of Greece’s hydrocarbon plans for 2019 to officials of foreign companies as well as latest and more detailed geological data on the Ionian Sea and Cretan regions. This data was processed by Norway’s PGS.

The strategy adopted at EDEY is to plan tenders for offshore blocks based on the interest expressed by foreign investors at this series of meetings.

Besides ENI and ExxonMobil, EDEY is seeking to convince Repsol, Shell and other US majors of Greece’s hydrocarbon prospects.



DEPA’s EPA Attiki takeover a competition woe, officials react

Unfavorable results produced by gas utility DEPA’s most recent gas release auction, which sparked a surge in prices and severely limted amounts made available to independent suppliers, have sparked protests by market officials over a recent Greek competition committee decision approving DEPA’s acquisition of a 49 percent share held by Shell in their EPA Attiki supply venture, covering the wider Athens area.

The agreement gives DEPA, already holding a 51 percent stake, full control of the EPA Attiki supply firm and threatens to keep independent players out of the retail gas market.

The threat had been raised during Greek competition committee hearings ahead of the agreement’s local approval. Officials who opposed the DEPA-Shell agreement warned it would prompt market competition complications but were told EPA Attiki was headed for privatization as part of the DEPA sale.

However, the DEPA sale has been held back by a series of deferrals. It could take many more months to stage. During this time, retail gas market competition will remain subdued.

Despite the warnings and market issues now emerging, the Greek competition committee offered a swift and unconditional approval the DEPA-Shell agreement.

DEPA’s gas release auctions were introduced as a structural plan to promote market competition and reduce the gas utility’s market dominance.

The main power utility PPC secured the biggest amounts at DEPA’s most recent gas release auction. The gas amounts left for independent players were also severely restricted by substantial purchases from EPA Attiki, now fully controlled by DEPA.

Commenting on the resulting set up, one market official described the situation as DEPA selling gas quantities intended for independent players to itself.

Authorities are now expected to scrutinize the issue.

DEPA set for more ambitious Athens network growth plan

The gas utility DEPA appears determined to adopt a more ambitious development and investment plan for its Athens networks now that the local Competition Committee has approved its agreement with Shell for an acquisition of the latter’s 49 percent share in their EPA Attiki supply and EDA Attiki distribution ventures, both covering the wider Athens region. DEPA already holds majority 51 percent stakes in both.

The leadership at DEPA considers the existing EDA Attiki development plan as being too weak, sources informed. The upgraded plan is expected to feature more ambitious projects in areas already covered as well as new projects in new territory.

The current five-year plan for EDA Attiki limits the distribution network’s development to 35.5 kilometers by 2022, an average of 7.1 kilometers per year. It primarily concerns network construction in areas where networks already exist, for increased density, and neglects expansions into new areas.

Competition Committee ruling on DEPA-Shell deal by Monday

The local Competition Committee is expected to deliver a decision Monday on gas utility DEPA’s agreement to acquire Shell’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area. DEPA already holds the majority 51 percent in these arrangements.

Motor Oil opposed the agreement and called for its rejection by the committee at a lengthy hearing held yesterday, while DEPA supported its takeover initiative. The committee informed it will issue its ruling by Monday.

Former DEPA chief executive Theodoros Kitsakos, who was replaced several months ago, noted that a better deal could have been achieved as it was prompted by Shell’s decision to withdraw from the Greek market, adding EDA Attiki sale was not a bailout requirement.

The sale price agreed to – EBITDA profit multiplied by 7.5 – is excessive, according to Kitsakos, who also condemned a clause requiring DEPA to pay Shell interest payments until the sale agreement is finalized.

A committee decision is needed for DEPA’s privatization procedure, involving a company split, to continue.

The privatization plan entails selling a 51 percent stake of DEPA Trade, representing the utility’s commercial interests, and a minority 49 percent of DEPA Infrastructure, as the government wants the Greek State to maintain its control of the country’s gas networks.

Taxation, personnel transfer details delaying DEPA split plan

Taxation details concerning a gas utility DEPA split plan ahead of its privatization are believed to be keeping energy ministry officials from reaching a final decision on the split’s formation, or whether the development will entail a full or partial split of utility networks for transfers of resulting stakes into a new DEPA subsidiary.

DEPA wholly owns gas distributor EDA Attiki and DEDA and also maintains a 51 percent stake in EDA Thessaloniki.

The split has been incorporated into a double-fronted privatization procedure of state-controlled DEPA’s infrastructure and commercial interests. The government is pursuing a course to maintain the Greek State’s control of DEPA infrastructure.

The shareholder make-up of the new subsidiary will be pivotal to the decision. It has yet to be decided if DEPA or its current shareholders, ELPE-Hellenic Petroleum (35%) and the Greek State (65%), will own this new subsidiary. The energy ministry is currently calculating which option could be preferable in terms of taxation.

Payroll matters concerning personnel transfers are also holding up the energy ministry. Employees at the gas utility’s EPA and EDA Attiki supply and distribution ventures have been on payrolls regulated by private-sector rules as a result of Shell’s 49 percent stake. Shell has agreed to sell this stake to DEPA.

The Competition Committee has rescheduled a meeting on the matter for tomorrow, three days sooner than originally planned.


DEPA infrastructure split likeliest development at utility ahead of sale

A full or partial separation of gas utility DEPA’s infrastructure from the parent company appears to be the likeliest development in the corporation’s much-discussed split as part of its privatization plan.

The corporation’s resulting corporate stature would remain unchanged if a full or partial split of its infrastructure division is pursued. This would not be so if the trade division were split as a new tax file number and new company would need to be established.

In the latter case, DEPA’s suppliers – Gazprom, Sonatrach and Botas – would need to offer their consent as their existing supply contracts with the gas Greek utlity would need to be transferred to a new company. Their consent cannot be taken for granted. Even if the trio were to agree, privatization-related time, which is running out, could be needed to overcome various objections.

DEPA’s local takeover agreement with Shell still needs to be endorsed by a local Competition Committee. DEPA has agreed to acquire Shell’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area. DEPA already holds the majority 51 percent in these ventures.

The announcement of a tender concerning the privatization of DEPA Trade, originally intended for November, now appears set for a delay and will most likely be rescheduled for within 2019, a tricky period, as next year will be an election year.

Competition Committee ruling on DEPA-Shell deal at end of month

Now a month into its full investigation of the DEPA gas utility’s local takeover agreement with Shell, the local Competition Committee appears most likely to require the entirety of a 45-day limit permitted for the procedure by law before delivering its decision towards the end of October, officials involved in the process have informed.

DEPA has agreed to acquire Shell’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area. DEPA already holds the majority 51 percent in these ventures.

The investigation of the DEPA-Shell agreement was deemed necessary as the deal could constitute an over-accumulation of power for DEPA.

The investigation is not believed to have produced any competition-related concerns so far. However, the committee’s board will ultimately have the final say as to whether DEPA will need to make any revisions or commitments before its takeover deal is endorsed.

A related hearing, part of the investigation, could be held next week. DEPA officials and any third parties that may be against the DEPA-Shell agreement will be summoned by the committee’s board for the hearing. Third parties with objections are not expected to emerge, developments so far have suggested.

The DEPA-Shell deal’s endorsement will pave the way for the DEPA privatization, its first step requiring legislation for a split of the gas utility into two corporations, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure.


Three DEPA options still on the table as draft bill date nears

Three basic scenarios are still being considered for a split plan at gas utility DEPA, while a final decision is expected within the first couple of weeks of October, which will enable the energy ministry to complete the plan’s draft bill.

One option entails splitting DEPA’s trade and infrastructure sections from its existing core for the establishment of two new enterprises, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure.

Though this scenario has not been ruled out, it stands little chance of being pursued as DEPA’s existing obligations with customers and other parties limits how much it can change its corporate structure, energypress sources explained.

A second option being considered entails splitting the commercial activity from DEPA for  possible incorporation with EPA Attiki, a gas supply venture covering the wider Athens area. DEPA holds a 51 percent stake in EPA Attiki and has agreed to acquire a 49 percent stake held by Shell. Such an outcome would give EPA Attiki a leading role in Greece’s developing natural gas market. A local competition committee recently decided to further investigate this EPA-Shell agreement. The process is expected to last 45 days.

A third option entails splitting the infrastructure from DEPA’s core.



Competition committee key to DEPA-Shell deal, utility privatization

A Competition Committee decision on the DEPA gas utility’s local takeover agreement with Shell, crucial for the outcome of the utility’s privatization, could be delivered today.

DEPA and Shell have stuck a deal entailing the Greek utility’s acquisition of the Dutch firm’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area. DEPA already holds the majority 51 percent in these ventures.

Competition Committee officials are examining whether the DEPA-Shell deal would constitute an over-accumulation of power. The committee’s examination is focused on DEPA’s dominance as a gas supplier in the wider Athens market combined with its key role in the country’s wholesale gas market.

The time it will take to complete this examination will determine the ensuing DEPA privatization’s schedule.

The DEPA-Shell agreement is planned to serve as a basis for a plan to split DEPA into two corporations, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure.

According to TAIPED, the state privatization fund, a draft bill for DEPA’s split needs to be submitted to parliament in October, while non-binding bids in a tender for DEPA Trade, the first part of the sale, are planned for November.

A 50.1 percent stake of DEPA”s trading firm is expected to be offered to investors. The Greek State is expected to retain a 51 percent stake in DEPA Infrastructure.

Certain pundits do not expect the DEPA privatization procedure to be completed before the summer of 2019. Municipal, European Parliament and national elections are all due in 2019, which has raised fears of DEPA privatization delays.

Tougher inspection may delay DEPA-Shell deal, privatization

A recent takeover agreement between Greek gas utility DEPA and Shell concerning the former’s acquisition of the Dutch firm’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area could be delayed, if not forced to change, by local Competition Committee concerns over the deal’s impact on market competition. Subsequently, a privatization plan for DEPA could also be delayed.

The committee is considering launching a full-scale inspection on the resulting accumulation of power the agreement with Shell would offer DEPA, already holding a 51 percent majority in these Athens supply and distribution ventures prior to the deal.

According to sources, the gas utility is expecting a committee decision, on whether to conduct an in-depth investigation or clear the deal, on September 17. Should a full-scale inspection be launched, the committee will have 90 days to deliver a decision. If this period elapses, then the DEPA-Shell agreement will be automatically approved.

In July, DEPA announced it had agreed to acquire Shell’s 49 percent in the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures for 150 million euros.

On another front, the Greek gas utility’s withdrawal from the Zenith gas supply company covering the country’s north, through the sale, for 57 million euros, of a 51 percent stake in this venture to Italy’s Eni, previously a minority partner with a 49 percent share, has been endorsed.

DEPA sale schedule now rests with Competition Committee

An on-schedule launch of the DEPA gas utility’s privatization procedure will depend on the time it will take the Competition Committee to approve a recent local takeover agreement between DEPA and Shell concerning the Greek gas utility’s acquisition of the Dutch firm’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area.

DEPA went into the negotiations with Shell already holding 51 percent stakes in these joint ventures. The deal was reached for a price of 150 million euros.

If the Competition Committee approves the DEPA-Shell agreement by September, then the DEPA privatization could begin on schedule, in September or October, with the gas utility’s split into two firms, DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade, as agreed to by the government and the country’s lenders for the privatization.

According to the plan, a 50.1 percent stake of the trading firm is expected to be offered to investors while 14.9 percent, including veto rights, will be maintained by the Greek State. As a second stage of the privatization, the Greek State’s offering to investors of DEPA Infrastructure will be limited to a minority stake of no less than 14 percent. The Greek State is expected to retain a 51 percent stake in DEPA Infrastructure.

The gas utility’s privatization procedure will most likely be delayed until 2019 if the Competition Committee requires an extended period to examine the DEPA-Shell agreement.

Pundits closely following the developments have not ruled out delays in the DEPA privatization procedure.

Greek petroleum group Motor Oil Hellas lodged an official complaint to the Competition Committee over the DEPA-Shell agreement while it was still in the making, noting it would enable DEPA to dominate natural gas supply in the wider Athens area. Motor Oil plans to soon enter Greece’s natural gas retail market through its subsidiary Coral (Shell).

DEPA, whose repositioning in Greece’s natural gas retail market was included as a bailout term, has also reached a deal with Italy’s Eni. DEPA agreed to withdraw from the Zenith gas supply company covering the country’s north by selling its 51 percent stake in this venture to the Italian firm, previously a minority partner with a 49 percent share.

At least three key players, Mytilineos, the Copelouzos group and ELPE, which already holds a 35 percent stake in DEPA, have expressed an unofficial interest for DEPA Trade.

These players, as well as others who have yet to disclose their interest, all see DEPA Trade as an enterprise that is ready for robust business given DEPA’s experience, existing customer base and foreign deals. More crucially, the investors also see a company that is soon expected to wholly own the EPA and EDA supply and distribution firms which, until recently, monopolized the retail gas market in the wider Athens area.


Copelouzos group emerges as latest DEPA Trade candidate

The Copelouzos group has stepped forward to made clear its interest in a 51 percent stake of DEPA Trade, gas utility DEPA’s forthcoming subsidiary to be offered as part of a bailout-required privatization along with a minority stake in DEPA Infrastructure, the DEPA sale’s other subsidiary in the making.

The Copelouzos group is the latest major player to have emerged as a prospective buyer of DEPA Trade. Mytilineos and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA, have both already declared they will bid for DEPA Trade.

Mytilineos and ELPE expressed their interest in DEPA Trade immediately following the recent unveiling of the DEPA privatization model. More interested investors are expected to emerge, including Motor Oil Hellas (MOH).

Just recently, Motor Oil Hellas made known an intention to enter the retail natural gas market through the fuel station network controlled by its subsidiary Coral.

Motor Oil Hellas has lodged an appeal to the competition committee against a local takeover agreement between DEPA and Shell, selling its 49 percent stake in their EPA Attiki natural gas supply joint venture, covering the wider Athens area, to DEPA. The gas utility already holds a 51 percent share of this joint venture and, as a result, will fully control own EPA Attiki.

DEPA already holds the biggest gas supply contracts in the country’s wholesale market and a complete takeover of EPA Attiki would offer the gas utility an unfair advantage over competitors, Motor Oil Hellas argues.

Without a doubt, the prospective field of DEPA Trade bidders sees major potential in the country’s natural gas market. The gas utility’s vast experience, existing client base and major wholesale gas agreements are all seen as big positives generating interest for DEPA Trade. Control of EPA Attiki, a key retail market player, promised by a 51 percent stake in DEPA Trade, is another prospect exciting investors.

DEPA, Shell agreement to be finalized next week

An agreement reached between DEPA, public gas corporation, and Shell, for the Greek gas utility’s acquisition of the Dutch firm’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area, is expected to be finalized next week.

The gas utility’s shareholders – TAIPED, the state privatization fund, controlling 65 percent of DEPA, and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), holding the other 35 percent – are expected to approve the agreement at a shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday, energypress sources have informed, which will clear the way for DEPA and Shell to sign their local takeover agreement. Less than a fortnight ago, the DEPA board approved the DEPA-Shell agreement.

Once the two sides have signed, the agreement will be forwarded to the competition committee for approval, not expected any sooner than August.

As has been previously reported by energypress, DEPA’s takeover agreement with Shell was reached for 150 million euros – approximately 39 million euros for the EPA gas supply company and 111 million euros for the EDA distribution company. The total amount is within the value range estimated by the gas utility’s consultants – close to the lower end.

In another agreement, DEPA stands to collect 52 million euros for the sale of its 51 percent stake in the Zenith gas supply company in the north to Italy’s Eni, plus five million euros for dividends. This amount is also within the gas utility’s evaluation range – towards the higher end.

The finalization of all three agreements represents the completion of the first stage of DEPA’s transformation. The next step will entail splitting the gas company into two firms, DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade, before selling 51 percent of the trading firm.

“The next stage, once again protecting the interests of the company, shareholders, workers, as well as DEPA’s historic role in the transmission of natural gas in Greece, begins now,” an official with a key role in the developments told energypress.

DEPA board unanimously OKs Shell local takeover agreement

The board at DEPA, the public gas corporation, yesterday unanimously approved an agreement reached with Shell just days ago following prolonged negotiations for the gas utility’s acquisition of the Dutch firm’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area.

This development had been preceded by DEPA’s finalized agreement with Italy’s Eni for the latter’s full acquisition of the EPA Thessaloniki-Thessaly gas supply company, commercially dubbed Zenith. This agreement is now being examined by the competition committee. A final decision is expected by the end of this month.

Returning to DEPA’s agreement with Shell, the gas utility’s shareholders – TAIPED, the state privatization fund, controls 65 percent and ELPE, Hellenic Petroleum, the other 35 percent – are expected to decide within the next fortnight before this agreement is forwarded to the competition committee for approval. A finalized decision by the committee is anticipated by August.

The agreement between DEPA and Shell was reached for 150 million euros – approximately 40 million euros for the EPA gas supply company and 110 million euros for the EDA distribution company. The total amount is within DEPA’s evaluation range – close to the lower end.

DEPA stands to collect 52 million euros for the sale of its 51 percent in the Zenith gas supply company in the north to Eni, plus five million euros for dividends. This amount is also within the gas utility’s evaluation range, towards the higher end, according to data provided by the utility’s financial advisers.

DEPA’s three agreements, heralded as a major achievement by the government, given the bailout’s prior action restrictions and deadlines, represent the completion of the first stage of the gas utility’s transformation following its withdrawal from the retail gas market in Greece’s north and bolstered position in the wider Athens market.  These agreements now clear the way for the commencement of DEPA’s privatization.

The gas utility realized, from early on, that it would need to reinforce its standing in infrastructure and realign itself in the retail gas market to remain competitive amid the newly liberalized, competitive market, pundits told energypress.

DEPA also needed to find solutions to meet bailout obligations, their objective more or less being to break the gas utility’s local dominance, which is why the company worked closely with the energy ministry on many position papers, negotiations with the lenders and board decisions.



DEPA strikes takeover deal with Shell, guarantees included

DEPA, the public gas corporation, and Shell concluded long-running negotiations over the weekend for the former’s acquisition of the Dutch firm’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area.

The two sides needed to stretch a June 6 deadline agreed to by the government and country’s lenders before striking a deal. It is expected to be approved by the DEPA board tomorrow while an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting is expected to immediately follow for final approval. TAIPED, the state privatization fund, now control’s DEPA’s 65 percent and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) holds the other 35 percent.

The agreement between DEPA and Shell was reached for 150 million euros, as had become widely known long before the weekend’s deal.

Following much resistance, the Dutch firm ended up providing long-term guarantees covering any pending tax issues that may arise in the future, including tax matters or accidents resulting from faulty infrastructure development. Also, Shell has committed to terms that would block any future market reentry attempt by the Dutch firm, including indirectly, as a member of an investment scheme, or via any special purpose vehicle (SPV).

Shell was represented in its EPA Attiki joint venture with DEPA, the majority partner with a 51 percent stake, through a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

Once finalized, the DEPA-Shell deal will need to be endorsed by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition. The same goes for DEPA’s agreement already reached with Italy’s ENI for the latter’s acquisition of the Greek gas utility’s 51 percent in the EPA Thessaloniki-Thessaly gas supply company. ENI initially went into this joint venture holding a 49 percent stake and now stands to gain full control of the gas supply firm for 57 million euros. However, DEPA will maintain its 51 percent stake in the EDA distribution company covering the Thessaloniki-Thessaly area.

The completion of all these matters will enable the DEPA privatization plan, to offer investors two separate subsidiraries representing the utility’s trading and infrastructure divisions, to go ahead. According to energy ministry sources, DEPA’s considerable cash deposits for 2017, totaling 250 million euros, will be divided between the two prospective subsidiaries.

The Greek State intends to sell a 50.1 percent stake of DEPA’s trading subsidiary, which is expected to draw major investor interest, and retain a 14.9 percent for veto rights concerning matters of strategic importance, especially international gas supply agreements. Two major Greek players, Mytilineos and ELPE, as well as European firms have already expressed interest.

As for DEPA’s infrastructure subsidiary, the Greek State will initially maintain its current stake of 65 percent and, depending on decisions to be taken at ELPE for its 35 percent stake in the gas utility, could sell a 14 percent stake to keep 51 percent.

Recent competition committee action taken by Motor Oil to protested  DEPA’s EPA Attiki takeover plan, promising to give the gas utility control of the wholesale and supply markets in the wider Athens area, could prove to be an obstacle.

Speaking on the sidelines of an Economist conference in Athens last week, energy ministry officials appeared unperturbed. They pointed out that DEPA’s presence is being reduced to one supply firm from two, while adding this development will be followed by the sale of a majority stake in DEPA’s prospective subsidiary representing the trading division.





Ministry pushing for DEPA-Shell agreement, guarantees sought

Long-running negotiations between DEPA, the public gas corporation, and Shell concerning the former’s acquisition of the Dutch firm’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area, now well past a June 6 deadline agreed to by the government and country’s lenders, failed to produce a finalized agreement at a meeting yesterday, which was intended to be the closing session, and will require an additional session today.

Greece’s energy ministry is applying heavy pressure on DEPA for a finalized agreement, believed to be worth 150 million euros. Price is not the issue. Instead, the delay has been attributed to guarantees demanded by DEPA to ensure the deal will not be breached at a future date.

DEPA wants Shell’s full market withdrawal through terms that would block any future market reentry attempt by the Dutch firm, including indirectly, as a member of an investment scheme.

For its EPA Attiki joint venture with DEPA, the majority partner with a 51 percent stake, Shell was not represented directly or through a subsidiary but a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

During yesterday’s meeting, DEPA officials made clear there will be no final agreement unless protective clauses demanded by the gas utility are included in the deal.

DEPA is also pushing for a term that would safeguard the Greek gas utility against any pending issues that may arise in the future, including tax matters or accidents resulting from faulty infrastructure development. Shell has yet to agree to such commitments.

In parliament, Democratic Alignment MP Giorgos Arvanitidis tabled a question demanding a full update from energy minister Giorgos Stathakis on the Shell-DEPA negotiations, including the progress of talks and the level of significance of an agreement for the ensuing privatization of DEPA.

The energy minister was also asked to confirm whether a 150 million-euro price for the agreement has been set and, if so, provide details on the criteria used given the fact that the negotiations are still in progress.

Arvanitidis also questioned if DEPA shareholders have offered their approval and sought confirmation of an alleged 4 million-euro fee for Rothschild, the gas utility’s consultant on matter.