PPC boss undermining gov’t policy, ex-minister claims

Interior Minister Panos Skourletis, the former energy minister, has openly criticized the main power utility PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis for undermining the government’s electricity market policy.

The rift between the two men had been made apparent, both directly and indirectly during Skourletis’s tenure at the energy ministry. However, this latest condemnation by Skourletis, confirmed by various sources, is by the far the most unrestrained.

Skourletis cast his aspersions at the PPC boss during a meeting held by the Syriza party’s energy team. Panagiotakis was not present, but other highly ranked PPC officials, including the deputy chief, Giorgos Andriotis, did attend. The serving energy minister Giorgis Stathakis was also absent.

Skourletis contended that the PPC chief is moving to fully privatize the corporation’s subsidiary IPTO, the power grid operator, despite decisions taken by the Syriza party to prevent such an outcome.

Skourletis also noted that Panagiotakis was behind a recent letter forwarded by the country’s four main banks expressing concern over PPC’s breakaway plan for IPTO.

Energy Minister in Sofia next week for conference, IGB talks

Energy Minister Panos Skourletis will travel to Sofia next week for an energy conference and take the opportunity to meet with his Bulgarian counterpart Temenuzhka Petkova for a discussion on the prospective IGB Greek-Bulgarian interconnector’s upcoming market test, crucial for the project’s development.

Greek and Bulgarian officials are working frantically to prepare the market test’s second round, entailing binding bids for allocation of pipeline capacity to traders. Though scheduled for October, this second round has been delayed and will now most likely take place in November or December.

Both sides appear confident that the market test’s second round will produce positive results and give the green light for the pipeline infrastructure project’s development.

Speaking at Global Oil and Gas, an energy conference held in Athens yesterday, Dimitris Manolis, Head of International Activities and Projects at DEPA, Greece’s Public Gas Corporation, offered details on the IGB project.

The DEPA official noted that environmental permits for the project have been granted by authorities in both in Greece and Bulgaria, while the project’s entire route has also been endorsed.

A target date for the IGB’s commercial launch has been set for the second half of 2019, Manolis told the Athens conference.

Skourletis, Hochstein talk pipelines, LNG terminal and DESFA

Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis and Amos Hochstein, the US Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, have held a new meeting to discuss a range of key mutual energy-sector interests.

Emphasis was placed on the progress of the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) natural gas project, the prospects of the IGB, the Greek-Bulgarian interconnector, as well as a plan for the development of a floating LNG station in Alexandroupoli, strategically located in northeastern Greece to serve the wider Balkan area.

The two officials also exchanged views on the South Corridor, to incorporate the TAP project, running through northern Greece and Albania to Italy.

Skourletis reportedly spoke extensively on the government’s plan to transform Greece into an energy hub that may serve the wider region. Besides the trading and economic dimensions, this objective has the potential to bolster traditional ties and establish new ones, he noted.

The two officials, who were accompanied by associates, also discussed the long-running and unfinished sale of DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator.

Azeri energy company Socar had agreed to purchase a 66 percent stake of DESFA after winning an international tender in 2013, but, more recently, the European Commission intervened to demand that a 17 percent share be offered to a certified European operator, which would reduce the Azeri firm’s control to 49 percent.