GIG Economic Bulletin – March 14, 2022

The energy crisis and the threat to energy security from the war in Ukraine are leading to the acceleration of strategic energy projects, ranging from gas infrastructure to electricity storage. Northern Greece alone could see €2 billion of investment in energy projects over the next few years.

Economic Bulletin
Greece’s energy sector could see a surge in investments in the wake of growing energy security concerns resulting from the war in Ukraine, with the development of the country’s own hydrocarbon assets gaining increasing priority. Foreign banks including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, and Nomura could soon open offices in Greece, while the Ministry of Digital Governance is expected to tender projects worth a total €1.234 billion in the first half of the year.

Macro

Analysis by Eurobank concludes that the Greek economy covered most of the ground lost during the pandemic. The report puts 2021 GDP at just 1.4% below 2019 levels.

The new baseline scenario adopted by the government sees growth of 3.5% in 2022, from the original projection of 4.5%. The adverse scenario puts growth at 2%.

The CPI shot up by 7.2% Y-o-Y in February according to ELSTAT, pushed by increases of 78.5% in natural gas and 71% in electricity prices. This has led to expectations of over 8% inflation once the effects of the war in Ukraine filter through.

Exports to the U.S. increased by 41% in 2021, while exports to Turkey jumped by 54% according to the Panhellenic Exporters Association. Exports overall reached a record high in 2021, rising to €39.3 billion from €30.4 billion in 2020.

January imports increased at double the rate of exports, up by 57.9% according to ELSTAT. Imports came to €6.32 billion, from €4 billion last year. This led to a trade deficit of €2.94 billion, a rise of 98.7%.

Industrial production fell by 0.2% Y-o-Y in January according to ELSTAT, led by a reduction in mining activity.

GGBs

The ECB reaffirmed its continuing commitment to supporting Greece via bond purchases, noting the flexibility in purchases through the reinvestment programme, even after PEPP has been concluded. The ECB statement noted that PEPP could also resume should the conditions require it. 

Energy

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has submitted a six-point proposal to the European Commission, with the aim of controlling price rises in the wholesale natural gas market.

The government is examining the potential to speed up the extraction and monetisation of domestic hydrocarbons by fast-tracking the permitting process, after discussions with Hellenic Ηydrocarbon Resources Management (HHRM) and Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE). According to HHRM’s estimates, Greece’s hydrocarbon deposits are valued at circa €250 billion.

Electricity storage projects totalling 1.5 GW with the potential to tap into €450 million of RRF funding have unfrozen, after the government committed to simplifying licensing procedures.

Northern Greece could see investments totalling €2 billion in energy projects, including the IGB gas pipeline and the pipeline to North Macedonia, the Alexandroupolis LNG terminal, FSRUs, in addition to the South Kavala underground storage facility.

Fitch affirmed its long-term credit rating for PPC at BB- with a stable outlook. PPC is expected to invest €1.6 billion annually up to 2026, including in the creation of a 6.1 GW RES portfolio.

TERNA Energy-HERON has signed the first “green” long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with 14 large energy users, totalling 30 MW. The agreements provide electricity at a fixed price from renewable sources.

Shipping

Applications for the Greek ship registry increased by 62% in 2021 according to Shipping Minister George Plakiotakis, who attributed the rise to the introduction of incentives. Ships under the Greek flag are approaching a record 5,000.

Kriti Future, part of the Avin fleet, became the first ship under the Greek flag to be powered by ammonia, resulting in zero carbon emissions.

Tourism

Between 600,000 to 830,000 flight bookings to Greece are expected to be cancelled by travellers from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus this summer.

Airlines have scheduled record numbers of direct flights to Greece from seven U.S. airports, giving rise to expectations of higher numbers of arrivals this summer to counterbalance the anticipated drop in numbers from Eastern Europe.

Flight traffic in Greece is expected to reach 90% of 2019 levels starting from April 1, according to Eurocontrol, in spite of the war in Ukraine.

Athens international Airport. Copyright: Markus Mainka / Shutterstock.com

Real Estate

The Hellenic Gaming Commission is expected to complete the process of issuing the first integrated casino license linked to the Hellinikon development, after applicant Inspire Athens secured a €15-million letter of guarantee.

Dimand Real Estate and Prodea Investments’ redevelopment around the Hub26 Thessaloniki Office Complex is expected to attract real estate investments of €35 million, according to a presentation at Prodexpo North.

Digital

Digital projects worth a total €1.234 billion are due to be put to tender by the Ministry of Digital Governance’s Information Society executive in H1 2022, with another €714 million of projects in preparation.

Banks

Eurobank reported profits of €424 million in 2021. The bank wants to distribute a dividend on fiscal year 2022 results and keep return on equity at 10%. NPEs dropped to 6.8% last year and will be reduced to 4.8% by the end of 2024.

Piraeus Bank will proceed with Sunrise III worth €700 million, NBG’s €800-million Frontier II is also to progress, as well as a shared securitisation between the four systemic banks called Solar, consisting of €1.3 billion of SME loans.

Axia has retained its “buy” rating for Greece’s four systemic banks, noting only that a potential fall in GDP could lead the lenders to revise some of their targets.

Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Deutsche Bank are said to be applying for licenses to open offices in Greece, with Nomura thought to be in early stages. The main areas of interest are thought to be investment banking and treasury operations.

Stock Market

The ASE general index halted its fall to close Friday at 827.96 points, with weekly gains of 0.75%. The index has lost -12.78% of its value since the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24, but positive sentiment generated by the news of talks on Friday was enough to cause a daily rebound of 3.05%.

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