Natural gas distribution and supply sector is undergoing reform

Natural gas distribution and supply sector is undergoing reform

(Article by Mira Todorovic Symeonides – Partner and Anastasia Bolari – Associate, published in the Energy & Natural Resources Newsletter of the ILO on March11, 2019)

The Greek natural gas market is dominated by:

  • the public natural gas company DEPA, which is 65% owned by the Hellenic state and 35%
    owned by Hellenic Petroleum SA; and
  • DESFA, the national natural gas transmission system operator, which was legally unbundled
    from DEPA in 2007.

In 2018 66% of DESFA’s shares (31% of which were held by the Greek Privatisation Fund and 35% of
which were held by Hellenic Petroleum SA) were sold to a consortium of companies: Snam SpA,
Enagás Internacional SLU and Fluxys SA. The remaining 34% of DESFA’s shares were transferred
back to the Hellenic state. In December 2018 DESFA was certified as the natural gas transmission
system operator (RAE Decision 1220/2018).

DEPA consists of a group of companies actively engaged in the wholesale trading, supply and
distribution market for natural gas. The distribution and supply of natural gas to retail consumers
was initially provided by three DEPA subsidiaries: EPA Attica, EPA Thessalonica and EPA Thessaly,
established in 2000 and 2001. These subsidiaries monopolised the distribution and supply of gas to
non-eligible consumers in their respective administrative boundaries, in accordance with the
derogation granted to Greece under Article 49.8 of the Gas Directive 2009/73/EC. DEPA kept the
majority share (51%) in the three companies, while Attica Gas BV (100% subsidiary of Shell Gas BV)
had a 49% in EPA Attica and ENI SA had a 49% share in EPA Thessaloniki and EPA Thessaly SA.

Unbundling distribution and supply of DEPA subsidiaries

Law 4336/2015, and subsequently Law 4414/2016 (passed in August 2016), provided for the
unbundling of distribution from the supply of natural gas. The laws also provided for the
abolishment of the monopoly over supply services and the legal and functional unbundling of
distribution from supply in the three EPA companies.

Following the implementation of the 2016 law, each EPA company was divided into one natural gas
distribution company (EDA) and one natural gas supply company (EPA). In 2016 two of the EDAs
and two of the EPA companies (ie, the Thessalonica and Thessaly regions) were merged. By January
2017 EDA Thess and EPA Thess were in operation. In addition, DEPA used its new legal right to set
up a new EDA by spinning off the natural gas distribution sector which it operated in the rest of
Greece (ie, outside Attica, Thessalonica and Thessaly). Therefore, since January 2017 three EDAs
(Attica, Thess and DEDA (covering the rest of Greece)) and the respective three supply companies
have been operational. Further, while DEPA owns the distribution networks that it and the EPAs
constructed before the unbundling, any new distribution networks or works aimed at extending
existing distribution networks are exclusively owned by the relevant EDA.

In July 2018 DEPA and Attica Gas BV (100% subsidiary of Shell Gas BV) entered into an agreement
under which DEPA purchased 49% of the share capital in EPA Attica and EDA Attica from Attica Gas


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