Electricity price hiccups over the last two months seemed timely to attest the required price assumptions for the financial model of the Belene NPP. These days, prices have returned to normal levels, but the idea of higher electricity prices, at par with revenue projections, gained some ground – ostensibly the free market at work. There is a lot in common between the procedural patterns behind the Belene NPP and the Balkan Gas Hub. Most of the activities only nominally happen in the open – formal tender procedure, the rite observed, the end – terms agreed in advance. There is no true competition, no market interplay, no real public scrutiny, just political expediency. Summarizing the main features of the applied policy line in pursuit of a lighter version
For the first time in more than 15 years, Ukrainian gas has been exported to the EU. On January 30 this year, a small private company, TAS Energia Krainy, managed to sell gas to Slovakia. Volumes are indicative of a test mode, but the fact of the transfer is of great importance. First, the story is clear proof that Ukraine has successfully resolved domestic gas challenges, due to growth in indigenous gas production and diversified imports, enough to ensure a strong liquidity base for market liberalization and export potential. Second, the transaction happened in high winter season, which suggests self-confidence and mature levels in capacity and the supply market. The cross-border sale is not referenced to the more common long-term, but to short trade that can track
The first non-binding phase of the market test for the capacities of the floating LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis has generated unexpectedly high demand – more than 12 billion cubic meters in bids, which is more than double the FNLG’s planned capacity of 5.5 billion cubic meters. Twenty companies submitted intent to book capacity. In the next binding phase, the digits for capacity take-up will fall significantly, yet the message from the LNG gas market could not be more unequivocal – gas traders trust they can offer competitive prices for natural gas and gain market share in Southeast and Central Europe. In other words, they are confident that gas from the global LNG market can compete with Gazprom’s pipeline gas for the cash of customers. Another important deduced
The cuts to transit tariffs for use of the Ukrainian gas transmission network, which were announced during the final days of 2018, are a major event that was undeservedly kept out of the media spotlight. The reductions of nearly 50% are simply a downward correction but send a message. Here are some corners in the analysis. The first suspected casualty would be the revenue projections for the Ukraine circumvention projects. Their business logic has been substantially compromised, while the key argument Merkel and Putin continue to use is that the Nord Stream is “just business.” The direct costs of Nord Stream-2 so far are below $10 billion and, accounting for the extra funds spent on gas fields and infrastructure development on Russian territory, the bill skyrockets
The issue of why the EC imposed an unprecedented fine of 77 million euros on the Bulgaria Energy Holding (BEH) and its subsidiaries, Bulgartransgaz and Bulgargaz, is quite extensive, and a single angle of analysis could hardly tell the whole story. I will focus on a more holistic approach, answering questions about matters on which the audience has been kept in the dark or misled by “experts” serving the culprits consciously/for a reward/ or through incompetence or naivete. 1. Attempts to subdue the real issue, as stated in the EC’s investigation, and direct criticism to the complainant, Overgas, are irrelevant and decry nervousness. The benefits of the EC decision will be shared by all customers and players in the gas market, not just Overgas. Following this decision of the
The consequences of the choices the Bulgarian government makes on the scale and direction of the infrastructure upgrade to accommodate future flows it intends to service will be long-term. The issue at stake is whether the country will become a fully integrated member of the EU gas market, implementing key elements of the EU’s gas strategy and North-South – the Baltic to the Aegean Sea – interconnectedness, or replay the old adage of acting as proxy to Gazprom gas in the EU. The crisis in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, among other alerts and triggers, echoes a repetitive soundbite in Russian foreign policy – Ukraine should not be trusted as a transit country, thereby Russia’s circumvention ‘streams’ serve the EU’s best interest. There is little doubt
Bulgartransgaz has recently been informed by its largest customer, Gazexport, that after 2020 it will terminate the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine, and thereby, through the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline to Turkey, Greece and Macedonia. It is still unclear whether the notification qualifies under contractual terms as legal notice served, requiring a new contract for any further arrangement, or whether it should be interpreted as advance notice for a shift of delivery point, with future gas deliveries coming via the Turkish Stream-2 pipeline. As for the quantities for use in Bulgaria itself, Bulgargas would not have a major problem, provided it can add additional delivery points in Slovakia and elsewhere. In total, the transited annual volumes over the last 12 years have varied around 16-17 billion cubic
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The speculative interpretations on the secretive nature of the trip of Gazexport’s top managers to Sofia last Friday, beyond doubt, will build up due to the total absence of facts and details. This is an inevitable consequence as one compares the media frenzy around the visits of the top brass at Gazprom to the country on previous occasions. To begin with, the decision to keep the meetings with Bulgartransgaz secretive reflects the content and the range of topics covered. The classic is: both sides need to agree to keep the exchange out of the public record. Gazprom and BTG, as hosts, have no interest in disclosing details, as the negotiations cover a very sensitive topic – the extension of Turkish Stream through Bulgaria. Two events have marred the
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