Our 38 years activity in the energy sector fully covers regulatory, trading and commercial issues, M&A and dispute resolution. Over all these years, we have advised several players in the energy market, including major oil companies, the state owned natural gas company (DEPA), the state controlled electricity company (PPC), the Independent Power Transmission Operator (IPTO) as well as several privately owned developers and operators in the renewables sector.
Our practice covers:
Fossil Fuels (Oil, Gas, Natural Gas)
We enjoy a long-standing reputation in the oil and gas industry and have been regularly retained on legal/regulatory matters relating to refinery, trading, imports and exports, storage and retail networks of fossil fuels and lubricants. We have solid experience in sector specific dispute resolution, including commercial litigation on trading and retail matters and arbitration on trading, refinery development and engineering and retail network disputes. We have been retained by the Greek state for the negotiation of the first ever-natural gas procurement contracts and for one of several unfruitful privatization attempts of DEPA (the state controlled natural gas supply company). We have recently assisted DEPA, in a project for the (green field) development of a retail distribution network for automotive CNG filling stations (which included drafting, advocating and supporting significant parts of the relevant secondary regulation), also the establishment of upcountry compression stations for off-network supply of CNG.
During a Europe-wide multi-utility trend, due to our reputation in both the energy and telecommunications sector, we were invited by the Public Power Corporation (PPC), to assist them in setting up a multi-utility project, including a nationwide fibre optic network over the electricity grid; also to assist them in forging a strategic alliance for the operation of that network. Necessarily, to achieve this task, we dealt both with electricity and telecommunications regulatory matters, largely on a virgin territory at the time. We also dealt with delicate competition issues, both at national and EU level. Further, we organized the relevant public tender and negotiated and implemented a strategic alliance – joint venture between PPC and WIND, for the use and operation of the PPC FO network over the grid. Some years later, as multi - utilities grew out of fashion, we were again retained by PPC in the sale of their telecoms business to WIND.
Recently, electricity/telecoms bundles are back in the retail market. Remains to be seen how many players will ride this new wave - We are here, ready to assist.
We have been retained by PPC to assist in regulatory matters (laying submarine cable in territorial waters, landing station and cable traffic), also in relevant commercial agreements for a Greece - Italy Submarine Inter-Connector Project.
We have also been retained by PPC to provide comprehensive legal assistance for their participation in several privatization projects of Distribution Network Operators and of Thermal Power Plants, outside Greece. Our work included the performance of legal and regulatory due diligence and the preparation and follow-up of the bidding process, in six separate large projects, the redrafting and negotiation of the relevant transaction document packages as well as the support of PPC in the negotiations, hand in hand with the financial advisors.
The manner in which PPC will open up to competition and the application of the NOME regulation, was expected to change the scenery very significantly as of fall 2016, which however has not yet occurred; so the much expected stimulation of energy related legal services is yet to be seen.
Recently we have been retained by IPTO (the Independent Power Transmission Operator) to opine on legal, regulatory and contractual issues associated with an optic fibre asset over its transmission network.
RES (Renewable Energy Sources)
Although Greece is endowed with sunshine and fresh winds, the financing and development of viable energy parks, especially solar, has faced difficulties.
In 2010, Greece adopted an ambitious National Action Plan for Renewable Energy Sources with a time frame until 2020, aiming at 20% primary energy from RES. Wind and PV targets are 7.5 and 2.2 GW respectively, not to mention the contribution of large Hydro and other RES (biomass, geothermal and concentrated solar).
Players in wind generation are generally larger and include the state owned PPC (PPC RENEWABLES) and several large European multinational companies. Many of the wind generation players have good access to financing, therefore the effects of the Greek crisis have been less acute on the wind market rather than on the PV market, although the dire financial situation in south Europe has stalled some investment from SE countries thus igniting disputes. At the end of 2015, there were more than 2.100 wind turbine units installed countrywide.
Greece ranks 5th worldwide, with regard to per capita installed PV capacity. It was expected that PV produced energy would cover up to 7% of the country's electricity demand in 2014. Development of solar power in Greece started in 2006 and installations of photovoltaic systems boomed since 2009, because of the appealing feed-in tariffs introduced and the corresponding regulations for domestic applications of rooftop solar PV. Developers attracted a lot of small and some opportunist players, mostly landowners to borrow and invest in PVs. However, the mechanism overheated, creating a deficit to LAGIE (the Greek "Operator of Electricity Market"), which in turn put a lot of pressure both on PPC, on the buyer’s side, but also on small producers. Licensing of new PV projects has been put on hold and the feed-in tariffs were drastically reduced. This in turn, has ignited a large number of disputes between the market players. The players in the Greek renewables market are landowners, developers, financiers, equipment suppliers, operators and the grid.
We have been engaged by most categories of players, for a variety of tasks, mostly to negotiate development and/or financing and/or supply and/or interconnection agreements and/or PPAs from either side of the table, therefore we have plenty of first hand experience on everyone’ s concerns. Apart from this, we are retained on regulatory matters and dispute resolution, mostly between developers and/or operators, given that disputes have boomed, due to adverse regulatory and financial developments, primarily in the PV market.
Our work covers the entire life cycle of a renewables project, including site acquisition, licensing, financing, operations and, ultimately, sale or refinancing of installations and includes our providing regulatory advice, drafting and negotiating development agreements, preliminary contracts, joint venture agreements, financing agreements with relevant escrows and securities, option sales agreements, share purchase agreements, equipment procurement, engineering and construction agreements, service level agreements, licensing, PPAs, license transfers, a.o.
Development agreements and arrangements and their operating environment are extremely complex, because among many commercial difficulties and a long maturity, they must take into account administrative proceedings which are not user friendly, also a variety of interests from local societies and special interest groups. As a result, fierce disputes implying high exposure are not rare; we have a very solid experience in arbitration and litigation (including administrative) of development disputes, between any of the developers, investors, bankers, suppliers, operators, central government, local communities and special interest groups.