Direct talks in place of lignite tender

The Development Ministry yesterday scrapped a tender to exploit lignite in Vevi, northern Greece, saying it would enter into direct negotiations with interested investors instead. A 2006 tender to exploit the Vevi lignite deposit in Florina was canceled after three years of bureaucratic delays. «Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis is issuing a public invitation to businesses that want to express interest in being assigned the rights to explore and exploit the area after negotiations,» the Development Ministry said in a statement. Bidders have until September 4 to seek direct talks with the government, the ministry added. The move follows an agreement struck earlier this month between Greece and the European Union to curb PPC’s monopoly over lignite, a type of brown coal used as fuel for electricity generation. The EU regulator said in 2008 that Greece had infringed European competition law by granting privileged access to lignite to PPC. Greece plans to grant exploitation rights for four separate lignite deposits, including Vevi. With an estimated production of 63.5 million tons this year, PPC is the EU’s second-largest producer of lignite. Even though it is highly polluting, lignite is the biggest single source of electricity generation in Greece because it is cheap and allows state-run PPC to offer households some of the lowest power prices in the EU.