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Greeks in Russia for energy talks November 9, 2007

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Minister in Moscow discussing oil pipeline and natural gas supply, ahead of PM Karamanlis’s visit

Development Minister Christos Folias has been in Moscow since yesterday to pave the way for an official visit by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis next month and to revive the recently stagnated process for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

The agenda of the Minister’s two-day visit includes meetings with his Russian counterpart and representatives of the country’s oil and natural gas industries and to discuss all issues related to the course of the construction of the oil pipeline and the transmission of natural gas from Russia to Western Europe through Greece.

There are significant delays in the implementation of the construction of the oil pipeline linking the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas with the Greek port of Alexandroupolis on the Aegean Sea. The delays are mostly attributed to the Russian side.

The project gained momentum in the last few years when it secured the backing of the Russian government, as expressed by the presence of President Vladimir Putin in Athens for the signature ceremony of the three-party interstate agreement. However, there are now obstacles that have been created by the attitude of the Russian oil industry. Russian company representatives who participate in the project told their Greek and Bulgarian partners at their last meeting that they should secure their own oil supply corresponding to their percentage of ownership of the pipeline.

The attitude of the Russians left the other two sides astounded and disappointed; they argue that this was not provided by the interstate agreement in which the three countries have been committed to the project on political level.

In Moscow, the Greek Minister will also discuss the issue of extending the interstate agreement for the supply of natural gas from Russia to the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA). The agreement expires in 2016 and the two sides are discussing a possible extension until 2040, as well as an increase in annual quantities by about 80 percent.

Discussions will also focus on the new pipelines for the transmission of natural gas from Russia to Western Europe, passing through Greece. Of particular interest for the Russian side is the new pipeline linking Turkey and Greece that is to be inaugurated by the two countries’ Prime Ministers on Sunday, November 18. The ceremony on the Evros River, on the Greek-Turkish border, will include the first transmission of natural gas from Turkey to Greece.

The 285-kilometer pipeline forms part of the so-called horizontal axis for the supply of Europe with 11 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the rich reserves of the Caspian Sea. The pipeline links Karacabey in Turkey with Komotini in Greece.

Greenpeace activists at National Archaeological Museum November 9, 2007

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greenpeace_activists.jpg  Greenpeace activists offer the National Archaeological Museum in central Athens a symbolic 2.3-meter light bulb yesterday as a means of raising awareness about the negative impact from the common household incandescent light bulb.

Incandescent light bulbs are blamed for massive energy losses and waste problems. They last for about a year and waste 95 percent of energy as heat, according to Greenpeace. By switching over to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), household power bills can be cut by around 15 percent.

Public works funding plan gets approval November 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Environment.
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The Environment and Public Works Ministry announced yesterday the approval of its proposals for the European Union subsidy period of 2007-2013.

The program totals 4.3 billion euros and includes 11 fields of action and major project proposals. Minister Giorgos Souflias said that it had been approved by the EU without any amendments. This opens the way for the projects’ tenders, with the relevant documents already submitted to the Ministry.

The program for the 2007-2013 period is split in to two groups of projects: The first, to receive money from the EU’s Cohesion Fund, includes activity related to the protection of the atmosphere, public transport, climate change and renewable energy sources, protection and management of water resources, prevention and handling of environmental risks and the management of solid waste.

The second, to be funded by the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA), contains projects to protect the atmosphere and deal with climate change, management of water resources, prevention and handling of environmental risks, protection of the natural environment and biodiversity and the strengthening of institutions and mechanisms.

Projects include the Thessaloniki metro, the sewage network at Markopoulo in Attica, the creation of new landfills and recycling centers across the country, the inclusion of 24 areas, such as Mount Olympus, the island of Tilos and the Prespes Lakes, in protected zones, and the creation of stations to measure pollution.

PPC to invest in renewable energy November 7, 2007

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The Public Power Corporation, Greece’s biggest electricity company, plans to build a total 950 megawatts of renewable energy units by 2014.

The company’s PPC Renewables unit will invest 1.95 billion euros ($2.8 billion) over that period, it said in a regulatory filing yesterday. PPC will contribute 330 million euros of the total investment between 2008 and 2011, the statement said. The government expects energy companies to invest more than 4.5 billion euros in the country by 2010 as a result of measures to make it less dependent on oil. Greece has no nuclear power and produces almost no oil or natural gas.

PPC workers call off today’s strike November 5, 2007

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Workers at Public Power Corporation (PPC) yesterday suspended a decision to go on strike this month after the management of Greece’s biggest electricity producer said it would reconsider a plan to split up the company.

“All strike measures are suspended,” Public Power Union GENOP said in an e-mailed statement today. Workers won’t walk off their jobs on November 5, as previously planned, after management agreed not to take any decisions on the plan to divide up the company in a November 13 board meeting. “Instead, it was agreed there will be six months of discussions and studies on the purpose of restructuring,” the statement said.

State-controlled PPC said on October 27 that, as part of a new business plan, it was considering gradually splitting the company into six fully-owned units to comply with European Union rules and become more competitive.

The company’s unionized workers oppose the idea amid concern that the new units could be sold to private investors, leading to changes in working conditions. Greece owns 51 percent of PPC; the rest is traded on the Athens Exchange.

GENOP will meet PPC Chief Executive Officer Takis Athanasopoulos on November 5 to “clear up matters relating to the company’s power-production strategy.” Until then, a threat to call rolling, 48-hour strikes “remains in force,” the union said.

PPC yesterday confirmed it will consult with workers for six months regarding any future “restructuring” but said it hasn’t changed plans to announce a new business strategy on November 21.

PPC’s restructuring on November 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Energy.
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Electricity utility Public Power Corporation (PPC) yesterday denied media reports that it was shelving restructuring plans to become more competitive.

PPC has seen its market share and profit drop since Greece liberalized its energy market earlier this year under EU guidelines. PPC has said it plans to divide operations into separate units to stem the decline in earnings. “We categorically deny reports about withdrawing our business plan,” a senior official who declined to be named told Reuters.

The reports said the business plan, to be presented November 13, was being withdrawn for six months after protests from labor unions. PPC was set to detail its plan in October but delayed the announcement in the face of union protests.

PPC’s plan calls for the splitting of the company into units focused on power production, distribution and trading. The changes will streamline operations and help boost profits, the group says.

Union GENOP says such moves would be a prelude to the complete privatization of the state-controlled company, which they oppose. GENOP has called for a 24-hour strike on November 5 to protest against the plan. Rolling strikes will follow at later dates.

Fuel sales continue to increase in Greece October 30, 2007

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Sales of gasoline and diesel in Greece grew by 5.6 percent year-on-year in the January to August period, according to a survey by Stat Bank published yesterday.

Gasoline sales expanded by 3.8 percent from 2.67 million tons in 2006 to 2.77 million tons this year, while the diesel market grew by an impressive 466.6 percent. Only the market of heating oil showed a 15.4 percent decline in that period, given its rising price and the mild winter of 2006-2007. The annual turnover of the market is estimated at 12 billion euros.