ECONOMY

HELPE to get cheaper gas

The Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) yesterday accepted the Development Ministry’s call to supply cheaper gas to Thessaloniki Energy, the Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) subsidiary that has been unable in its first days of operation to provide power at competitive prices, and so has chosen to remain idle. The government’s intervention was deemed necessary in order for the first electricity production unit not controlled by the Public Power Corporation (PPC) to compete with the latter and enter into the power grid. According to sources, the ministry’s general secretary for energy, Nikos Stephanou, consulted representatives of HELPE, PPC, DEPA, the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) and the Hellenic Power Transmission System Operator (DESMHE) and echoed HELPE’s proposal for securing cheaper gas through a six-month extension of the temporary contract DEPA had with HELPE and which expired yesterday. HELPE had submitted a proposal to DEPA and the ministry for the extension of the contract, given that the decision on natural gas pricing has not been signed yet, so a long-term contract cannot be negotiated. The proposal also provides for the reduction in the natural gas prices to the levels offered by DEPA for a long-term contract and submitted in the tender held by HELPE, also with the participation of private Prometheus Gas. The same sources said there was no interference toward PPC in the meeting to limit its «aggressive price policy.» There was however discussion about PPC possibly being forced to inform the ministry and RAE of its units’ pricing data on a daily basis, although no immediate decision was made.