ECONOMY

Cheaper gas for industries via alternative suppliers

The Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) is preparing a plan that will enable industries within the boundaries of the Attica Gas Corporation (EPA) network to get cheaper natural gas for their operations.

For the first time, Attica industries will be able to use suppliers other than state-owned EPA, which currently has the monopoly in Attica, as well as Thessaly, central Greece (EPA Thessalias), and Thessaloniki (EPA Thessalonikis).

The industry watchdog intervened following a request by the Hellenic Union of Industrial Consumers of Energy (UNICEN) to allow alternative suppliers to use the state-owned firms? networks for a price. Such is also the provision of a law passed last year, which is yet to be implemented.

RAE president Nikos Vassilakos responded to UNICEN informing them of their legal right to receive natural gas from alternative suppliers. ?It is clear that state gas companies have the legal obligation to open their networks to any natural gas suppliers wishing to transmit gas to their industrial consumers who, according to Article 82 of the law, have become choosing clients,? the head of the regulatory body stated in a letter.

The RAE intervention will pave the way for competitive natural gas rates for industrial use, allowing for a significant reduction in energy costs for the country?s struggling industries. The savings may prove to be significant, given that the price of liquefied natural gas from an independent supplier can be up to 30 percent lower than that provided by the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA).

RAE?s intervention in the natural gas market is also related to the general pressure that Greece?s creditors are applying for the strengthening of competition in this section of the energy industry, for which the reduction of DEPA?s wholesale market share is crucial.

The plan that DEPA is going ahead with after the intervention of the Competition Commission regarding the supply of natural gas to third parties is also related to the above. The commodity?s supply will take place through auctions and will concern some 9 percent of all the state gas firm?s contracted quantities, amounting to about 2.5-3 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The first such auction is expected within December.

Also related to the reduction of DEPA?s wholesale market share is the Competition Commission?s request that any available capacity at the three entry points to the country?s natural gas system be given to new suppliers. That would essentially allow alternative companies that only transport LNG via ships into the market, by having gas transmitted through interconnections with pipelines after signing contracts with international suppliers.

The three entry points to the country?s natural gas system are the pipelines connected to the Bulgarian and Turkish networks and the LNG terminal on the island of Revythousa.