Southeast Europe network coordination center working on launch

The Southeast Electricity Network Coordination Center (SEleNe CC), established in Thessaloniki to support regional network security in southeast Europe, is currently recruiting personnel and installing technical equipment required for its operations.

All necessary equipment is expected to be installed at the center’s Thessaloniki headquarters by the end of September, energypress sources have informed. The objective is to have prepared the center as a fully operational unit by the end of the year.

The new regional center was established following years of efforts by the power grid operators of Greece (IPTO), Italy (TERNA SpA), Romania (Transelectrica), and Bulgaria (ESO-EAD), each holding equal shares.

It is managed by a four-member board comprising Ioannis Kabouris (IPTO), the chief executive, and three members, Angelin Tsachev (ESO-EAD), Enrico Maria Carlini (TERNA SpA), and Adrian Suta (Transelectrica).

The coupling of respective markets, expected soon, will represent a next step in the region’s harmonization and incorporation into Europe’s unified electricity market, promising major benefits for consumers, Kabouris, the chief executive, has noted.

Bulgaria gas pipeline explosion highlights need for local projects

Yesterday’s Bulgarian gas pipeline explosion in Bulgaria, prompting a supply cut into Greece from a northern route, yet again highlights how vital it is for Greece to develop two gas infrastructure project plans in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, and Kavala, in the north.

The explosion of this pipeline, carrying Russian gas into Greece via Bulgaria, has not affected Greece’s energy security as supply from the alternate Kipoi route remains uninterrupted, while the contribution of high LNG reserves at the Revythoussa terminal, just off Athens, has also been crucially important.

However, a Greek energy crisis could have resulted if this accident were more serious, or if the Revythoussa facility did not exist, or, worse still, the accident coincided with even greater Greek-Turkish tensions than at present, which could have meant a cut in gas supply from Turkey, hosting one of Greece’s key gas import corridors.

The intensifying geopolitical instability of the wider region, which includes Turkey, an extremely troubling neighbor, makes imperative the existence of sufficient gas storage facilities to safeguard Greece’s energy security. Despite the precarious conditions in the region, Greece remains one of the European countries without sufficient energy storage infrastructure.

In addition to the existing Revythoussa LNG terminal, Greece’s infrastructure definitely needs to be reinforced by projects such as the Alexandroupoli FSRU and an underground gas storage facility at a virtually depleted offshore deposit south of Kavala.

 

US backs Greece’s east Mediterranean activities, major projects

All countries in the east Mediterranean region must carry out their activities in accordance with international law, including the International Law of the Sea as stipulated by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Greek and US governments have jointly announced following a high-level virtual conference held yesterday on energy issues.

This statement clearly offers US support for the positions of Greece, facing Turkish provocation.

The working group’s participating Greek and US officials reiterated the commitment of the two countries to cooperate on the effort to diversify energy sources in southeast Europe, collaborate with regional partners for energy source development, and promote regional energy security.

The latest energy working group builds on steadily growing bilateral cooperation following Greek-US strategic dialogue meetings in December, 2018 and October, 2019, the joint announcement added.

The Greek team was represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Deputy Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Openness Kostas Frangogiannis and Deputy Environment and Energy Minister Gerassimos Thomas (photo). The US team was represented by Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon and Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes.

Fannon, the Assistant Secretary of State, expressed satisfaction on the completion of the Greek segment of the TAP gas pipeline project, to carry Azeri gas to Europe.

The US official also offered support for the ongoing construction of the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline interconnection and the progress achieved in plans for an FSRU in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, a South Kavala underground gas storage facility, and Greek-North Macedonian connection.

Energy exchange preparing spot market for natural gas

The Greek energy exchange has started working on the creation of a modern gas trading platform, energpress sources have informed.

A related study taking into account the needs and interests of companies has been completed as part of the preliminary work. A finalized decision on the effort’s schedule is soon expected.

At present, Greece does not possess an organized wholesale market for natural gas. Commercial transactions are mainly based on two-way agreements between producers and suppliers.

The Greek energy exchange, combining its efforts with gas grid operator DESFA, intends to create a spot market offering conditions that will determine natural gas prices through supply and demand amid a transparent environment to be trusted by all parties involved.

Energy exchange officials believe Greece’s geopolitical role will be pivotal in establishing the country as a central natural gas supply route to markets in southeast Europe.

Alexandroupoli FSRU project sustainable, reservations show

A second-round market test offering capacity reservations for the prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU in northeastern Greece has drawn enough interest to ensure the project’s sustainability ahead of a final business decision, energypress sources have informed.

The deadline for this market test, a binding procedure, expires today following a ten-day extension granted in order to give Romania’s Romgaz more time to confirm the duration and quantity of its offer.

Romania has entered a period of political crisis after interim prime minister Ludovic Orban’s Liberal Party government was toppled in a no-confidence vote called by the main opposition last month. The coronavirus crisis has worsened the situation. Orban and his entire Cabinet have quarantined themselves after coming into contact with a senator who was later confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Greek gas utility DEPA and power utility PPC have reserved Alexandroupoli FSRU capacities for lengthy periods, the sources added.

Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz and a Serbian company are also believed to have confirmed earlier requests for capacity reservations.

The Bulgarian, Serbian and Romanian interest highlights the potential of the Alexandroupoli FSRU to serve as a new natural gas gateway for southeast European markets, via the Greek-Bulgarian IGB pipeline, now under construction, as well as other existing and planned gas pipelines in the region.

PPC, seeking gas market role, wants 500 bcm at FSRU in Alexandroupoli

Power utility PPC, seeking a strategic role in Greece’s natural gas market, intends to submit a capacity reservation offer to an ongoing Alexandroupoli FSRU second-round market test for approximately 500 million cubic meters per year.

PPC has reached a decision and is preparing to submit its offer within the next few weeks, energypress sources informed.

A capacity reservation at the prospective Alexandroupoli FSRU in Greece’s northeast is crucial for PPC following its recent failure to secure slots in 2020 for the LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

PPC’s Alexandroupoli FSRU interest is driven by two objectives, firstly, to cover natural gas needs at its gas-fueled power stations, and secondly, to trade gas in the wholesale market, like the sector’s other major players. Besides the Greek market, PPC also sees gas trading opportunities in the wider region of southeast Europe.

PPC is determined to establish its place in a sector being transformed by the development of major trans-boundary projects, namely TAP and IGB. Domestically, the Alexandroupoli FSRU and an underground gas storage facility at a depleted offshore gas field in the south Kavala region also offer major potential for PPC.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU market test has generated considerable interest – unofficial until now – seen easily covering terms set to ensure the project’s sustainability before any finalized investment decision is made for development.

Greek gas utility DEPA, now holding a 20 percent stake in the Alexandroupoli FSRU consortium, will definitely seek to reserve capacity. Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz, also a 20 percent shareholder, will participate in the second-round market test seeking an annual capacity of between 300 to 500 million cubic meters, according to a Reuters report.

Many of the first-round market test’s 20 participants, plus a number of new faces, have emerged for the procedure’s binding second round, sources informed.

First round Alexandroupoli FSRU offers more than doubled a total capacity of 5.5 bcm to reach 12.2 bcm.

 

Southeast Europe’s gas sector seen gaining broader prominence

A large number of regional gas projects will be developed and lead to an upgrade of southeast Europe’s role on a wider scale, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG), an association of Europe’s transmission system operators (TSOs), has noted in its latest report.

Less favorably, the ENTSOG report also notes that various other projects, such as interconnections to facilitate Europe’s north-south and east-west corridors, are currently clouded by uncertainty.

As for Greece, the new Gas Regional Investment Plan (GRIP) includes many projects that were also listed in the preceding edition, such as an LNG terminal upgrade at Revythoussa, an islet just off Athens; the TAP project; a new LNG terminal in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece; the East Med pipeline; and development of a south Kavala gas storage facility in the country’s north.

The GRIP list also includes new additions such as various compressor stations around the country’s network; a pipeline route to Fyrom (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia); as well as Tesla, the possible continuation of the “Turkish Stream” project.

On the contrary, an older DEPA (Public Gas Corporation) plan concerning the development of Aegean LNG, a terminal in Kavala, is no longer on the GRIP list.

The ENTSOG report notes that Greece and eight regional countries represent 25 percent of gas demand in Europe. This figure is expected to increase to 27 percent over the next decade as gas market sizes and penetration levels increase, according to the report.

The association’s report also forecasts that gas-fueled electricity generation will make gains over the next ten years in southeast Europe’s energy mix.

Greece’s RES sector is expected to grow and provide 32 percent of electricity output by 2027, the ENTSOG report forecast, adding that local gas demand over the next decade will experience a decline for power generation purposes and an increase in the household, commercial and industrial sectors.

China Development Bank and PPC set to sign MoU in Thessaloniki

China Development Bank (CDB) and the main power utility PPC are scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on September 9 in Thessaloniki, during a conference organized within the framework of the 82nd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

The conference, titled “Investment opportunities in Southeastern Europe – Trends and challenges in the energy sector”, is being organized by PPC at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art.

Energy mnister Giorgos Stathakis, China Ambassador Zou Xiaoli, the Head of European Commission Representation in Greece Panos Karvounis as well as representatives of companies and banks from China and southeast Europe will speak at the conference.

PPC aspires to have a leading role not only in the reconstruction of the energy environment, but also in its development and modernization prospects. Through its leading role in enhancing the competitiveness of the Greek economy, it also aspires to mark the expansion framework for investments, aiming at maximizing synergies and upgrading energy networks, the company stressed.

The conference will also focus on the promotion of Greece’s geographic position as an energy hub for the Balkans and Europe.