News in Brief – February 2023
- Greece-Japan – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis led a business delegation to Japan, the first by a sitting Greek prime minister in 17 years, underscoring the country’s growing attraction as a global investment destination. The visit included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Enterprise Greece and the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) as well as four other bilateral agreements covering export credit, double taxation, defense and tourism.
- Ratings Upgrade – International agency Fitch raised its credit rating for long-term Greek sovereign debt to BB+ from BB, placing the country one notch away from investment grade status. The move represents the 12th upgrade of Greece’s credit ratings in the last three and-a-half years. Four of the world’s five major ratings agencies now place Greece just one notch below investment grade, something the government hopes to restore this year. Greece lost its investment grade rating in 2010 at the onset of the financial crisis.
- Energy Cooperation – Greece and Bulgaria have moved to further bolster energy security in the region of Southeast Europe. At a meeting in Athens, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Bulgarian counterpart, Rumen Radev, presided over the signing of two Memoranda of Understanding relating to the supply and storage of natural gas, and to the construction of an oil pipeline between the Greek port of Alexandroupolis and the Bulgarian port of Burgas.
- Natural Gas – The Greek government has approved the construction of a new, €340 million floating natural gas and re-gasification unit that is to be developed by Greece’s Motor Oil at its refinery near Corinth, west of Athens. The facility will have a maximum storage capacity of up to 210,000 cubic meters and will be linked to the country’s natural gas grid.
- Power Hub – Greece’s Independent Power Transmission Operator, operator of the national power grid, is planning €500 million worth of investments to upgrade power connections between Greece and its neighbors in Southeast Europe. According to the company’s draft 10-year investment plan, IPTO will build new high-voltage connections to Italy and Albania.
- Hydrocarbon Reserves − Greece’s potential fossil fuel deposits may amount to 3.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), according to an estimate presented by the Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Sources Management Company. Currently, a joint venture between international oil giant ExxonMobil and Greek refiner Helleniq Energy is conducting seismic surveys in offshore areas west of Crete, with exploratory drilling expected to begin in 2025, depending on the results of the surveys.
- Port Privatization – Greece’s privatization agency has received eight non-binding offers for the planned concession to operate the port of Volos. The port, which services the agricultural region of Thessaly in central Greece, is seen as key to supporting exports from the area. Volos is also seen as a potential port of call for cruise ships carrying visitors to nearby tourist attractions, like the Meteora monastery complex and the Pelion peninsula.
- Western Macedonia – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has presented a €4 billion development program for Western Macedonia, home to several of Greece’s biggest power plants and the heart of the country’s coal mining industry. The program, which includes some 380 projects, is aimed at assisting the region in transitioning to cleaner forms of energy and developing other industries.