HELPE calls for gov’t support on Elefsina

Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) President Timos Christodoulou requested the government’s support in overcoming reactions to a major investment plan in western Athens by local communities, in his meeting with the ministers, of Economy and Finance, Giorgos Alogoskoufis, and Development, Dimitris Soufias, yesterday. The meeting also examined the details of the plan, which is to cost approximately -1 billion, and is destined to upgrade HELPE facilities in Elefsina. Discussion also focused on the issues to be included in the agenda for HELPE’s upcoming general shareholders meeting, set for May 17. Another matter reportedly examined regarded the group’s management. A contract signed between HELPE and the Latsis Group provides for the appointment of HELPE’s management, as of 2008, by a shareholders’ vote. Participants in the meeting were also reported to have exchanged views on an opinion issued by the state legal advisor on probing and exploitation rights for domestic oil deposits. That opinion authorizes the responsible minister to restore the rights, granted to HELPE through the absorption of DEP EKY (State Oil Company-Oil Deposit Exploration & Exploitation SA). Given that the rights were included in the firm’s IPO, HELPE’s administration regards those rights as a group asset and, in case of revocation, is entitled to a special valuation and compensation. However, the government has rejected compensation claims, proposing instead that HELPE be granted exploration and exploitation rights for oil deposits in the areas of Katakolo and Epanomi for eight yeas. HELPE has already gone ahead with some investments in those areas. Alogoskoufis and Soufias were also briefed by Christodoulou on industrial developments in view of 10-day strike called by the HELPE employees’ union for May 17, as a first reaction to a management proposal on the annual collective labor contact, which provides for a lower pay rise for new hirings.