Gas system stretched to limits
DEPA warns it may be unable to meet additional demand by electricity producers due to cold weather
Energy authorities have been in emergency mode over the last few days to ensure a sufficient supply of electricity and natural gas to Greece, as a prolonged cold spell has shot demand up to record levels and the gas network is operating without reserves, despite the operation of the new depot on Revithoussa island.
The lack of a safety net emerged in a letter sent by the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) to the Regulatory Authority for Energy on Tuesday, in which the utility’s chief executive, Dimitris Tzortzis, admitted that DEPA is unable to set aside any reserves for clients that produce electricity using gas as fuel. He also implied that this situation is due to a lack of planning on behalf of gas grid operator DESFA to commission additional quantities and by delays in the delivery of the third terminal on Revithoussa.
A RAE decision dated December 20 stipulated that gas-powered electricity producing units that do not have an alternative fuel source (i.e. diesel) are obliged to store reserves at the third terminal on Revithoussa, which would cover their operation over five days for contingency purposes during winter.
However, DEPA warned in its letter to RAE that no such plan has been put in place to amass the needed reserves. It said that if it were to commit any gas quantities as security stock at this stage, it would risk the smooth supply of its clients due to very high consumption rates prompted by the cold weather.
This appears to be contradictory, given that the security reserves are meant to cover exactly such an emergency. DEPA says coverage of the needed reserves would require the planning and procurement of supplementary loads, a process that has been affected “critically and negatively by uncertainty concerning when the operation of the third terminal at the Revithoussa installations will start,” it said in its letter to RAE.
To ensure the sustainability of supply, DEPA has also brought forward a liquefied natural gas load that had been scheduled to arrive at the end of the month.