Nicola Batillana

CEO OF DESFA

Greece 2020  I  Energy  I  Interview

BIOGRAPHY Born in Italy, he graduated in Electrical Engineering at Genoa University. He joined SNAM, the Italian TSO, in 1995 and after several roles of growing responsibility in the O&M, construction and commercial activities in the gas transmission, he became SVP of the Technical Division. Prior joining DESFA, he served for 3 years as CEO of TAG, in Vienna.

“GREECE IS GAINING THE OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME A THRIVING REGIONAL ENERGY HUB, BY DEVELOPING A SOLID AND DYNAMIC MARKET FOR THE BALKAN ENERGY FIELD.”

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT CAN BE DONE FOR GREECE TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL REGIONAL ENERGY HUB?

 

In the years to come, natural gas will play a vital role in the energy transition of Greece, as the country presents a huge potential in renewables due to its geostrategic position and Mediterranean climate. Greece is gaining the opportunity to become a thriving regional energy hub, by developing a solid and dynamic market for the Balkan energy field. In order for this successful transition to be implemented, Greece needs a supportive, proactive and reliable regulatory framework to foster new investments both in its core business and in new gas applications.

 

Furthermore, there is a critical need for a steady and reliable ally like DESFA, the Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator, which owns and operates the high-pressure pipeline network of Greece and the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal in Revithoussa. Especially after the successful completion of its privatization to the Senfluga Energy consortium led by Snam, Enagás, and Fluxys, with the acquisition of a 66% stake, DESFA’s position in Greece and Southeast Europe has been significantly enhanced, showing to international markets that the country is recovering and improving.

 

The better macroeconomic environment and the higher than expected gas demand forecasts partially offset the new regulatory framework, which is below our initial expectations and the increase of personnel costs, due to the internal transformation of the company. I strongly believe that the regulatory framework should support the ongoing transformation of DESFA into an international player, with new activities that can be developed both in regulated and non-regulated services, in the interest of the market, customers, and the whole of Greece.

 

DESFA IS DEVELOPING A NEW TEN-YEAR DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR ITS OPERATIONS IN GREECE. CAN YOU TELL MORE?

 

The new ten-year development plan is under consultation and includes important infrastructure projects for the expansion of the network, the enhancement of new interconnections (pipeline to Northern Macedonia and the new entry point from TAP), new connections for power plants and city gates for natural gas distribution (especially in Western Macedonia) and projects that will increase the entry and exit capacity of the system and the reliability of the network.

DESFA has also proposed the construction of a new jetty for small scale LNG vessels and an LNG truck loading station in Revithoussa, which will enable to fulfill the demand of small scale LNG in Greece, in line with what is already happening in other European countries.

 

HOW CAN NATURAL GAS PLAY A ROLE TO ACHIEVE SUSTAINABILITY ENVIRONMENTAL TARGETS?

 

LNG and CNG can substitute more pollutant fuels in maritime and road transportation. DESFA has estimated that up to 500 thousand tons of CO2 and several thousand tons of Sulphur dioxide could be saved, according to a conservative scenario of ca. 1 bcm of natural gas consumption replacing oil in maritime and road transportation in 2030.

 

DESFA IS COMMITTED TO INVEST IN THE GREEK ENERGY TRANSITION. WHAT OTHER PROJECTS ARE PART OF THESE EFFORTS?

 

Another important project is expected later in 2020 for Northern Macedonia, the Interconnection Greece-Northern Macedonia (IGNM), which is reaching a maturity phase and DESFA is developing the engineering for the environmental authorization. This project contributes to the diversification of North Macedonia supply sources, currently relying only on Bulgaria, and increases the liquidity of the Greek market.