Case Studies: Olympia Odos Motorway

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Introduction

The “Olympia Odos” concession is a toll motorway of approximately 365 kilometers in length, located in Northern Peloponese, Greece. Several portions of the motorway are brown field sections already constructed by the Greek state under a traditional public works procurement scheme. These sections are tolled and the revenues are used to fund the construction of the new alignment.

The new motorway is designed to allow a journey speed of 110 km/h and its typical cross section consists of a dual carriageway of two lanes, divided by a New Jersey barrier, and an emergency lane. The project includes over 40 interchanges and over 4.5 km of tunnels. The concession consist of four sections (Koklas et al, 2011):

  • The Elefsina – Korinthos section of 63.6 km. This is an existing motorway section, with 3 lanes and an emergency lane per direction, including the Kakia Skala complex of tunnels with 4.5 km total length and two toll plazas at Elefsina and Isthmos. The Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) is 30,000 vehicles per direction, which may exceed 70,000 during peak periods. This is to be upgraded / maintained by the SPV.
  • The Korinthos – Patra section of 120 km. The existing road, an interurban corridor, was of poor quality (one lane and shoulder per direction, with poor geometric characteristics, and high accident rates) and served in ADDT terms from 7,500 to 11,000 vehicles per direction depending on the section; traffic volumes could exceed 30,000 vehicles per direction during special peak periods. A new motorway section is to be built along the path of the old motorway.
  • The Patra Bypass section of 18,3 km. This is an existing motorway section with two lanes and an emergency lane per direction, including a complex of tunnels of 4.7 km total length. The AADT is approximately 8,000 vehicles per direction which could exceed 15,000 during peak periods. This is a motorway section that was built by the state. No tolls are to be received on this section throughout the concession period.
  • The Patra–Pyrgos– Tsakona section of 163.3 km. This is a new motorway alignment to be built by the Concessionaire.

Tolls collected on the first two sections are used to fund construction. The project also includes the exploitation of existing and new Motorway Service Stations along the motorway, as well as the option to rent out ducting and fibre optical cables to telecom providers.

The concession, in all practical terms, provides great exclusivity to the concessionaires.

Due to the Greece and Eurozone financial crisis, the projects have seen a steep decrease in motorway traffic; as a result, the Lenders have imposed a draw stop and construction has ceased since 2011. Since spring of 2010, all stakeholders including the Greek State, the Shareholders and the Lenders have entered renegotiation discussions in order to restructure the project’s financing and restart construction works. As of April 12th 2013, the government and the SPV have reached an agreement on basic renegotiated terms. These terms include an increased government participation in the project’s funding, a significant reduction of the project’s size - the construction of certain sections of the project has been postponed- and the payment of approximately €130M in claims to the Construction Joint Venture.

The Contracting Authority (Public Party)

This was a project that was planned and approved at central government level, by the Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works.

The project was part of a ‘bundle’ of motorway concession projects titled ‘axes of development’. Each and every one of these projects’ concession agreements was ratified by the Greek Parliament and became a Greek law. Hence, any amendment or alteration of the concession agreement for this project would have to be ratified again by the Greek Parliament. It must also be noted that these motorways are part of the EU TEN-T network and were partially financed by EU funds.

The Concessionaire (Private Party)

Project sponsors are Vinci (30%), Hochtief (17%), Ellaktor (17%), J&P AVAX (17%), GEK TERNA (17%) and Athena (2%). Both Vinci and Hochtief are major international players in the construction/concession market; the rest of the companies in the consortium are major infrastructure groups that are based in Greece. Athena is an affiliate of J&P AVAX.

Both the Concession and Construction SPV’s are owned by the respective Sponsors at approximately the same shares. In addition, responsibility of construction is, also, shared as shown in figure 2.

Financing was to have been achieved through Shareholders’ Equity (EUR160M), Debt Capital (EUR1140M), Greek State/EU funds (EUR500M) and Tolls received during construction (EUR400M). The Lenders include a syndicate of international and Greek banks. Based on the terms announced on April 12th 2013, the above contribution is envisaged to change.

Figure 2: SPV Shareholders’ construction responsibility (source: (Koklas et al, 2011)

Users

Olympia Odos serves private passenger and freight traffic. By providing the connection to the Port of Patras, Olympia Odos serves international traffic.

Key Purpose for PPP Model Selection

Olympia Odos is part of the PATHE (Patra- Athens – THEssaloniki) motorway, a major road axis in SE Europe and is part of the TEN-T (priority project 7). One of the main reasons to choose a PPP/concession scheme was the willingness to transfer financing and traffic risk to the private sector and procure the project without increasing the country’s sovereign debt. Quality of service and time limitations were also decisive factors favoring the concession scheme as opposed to traditional procurement.

Project Timing

The project is considered to be urgently needed, since Patra port is one of Greece’s main import/export nodes and there has been low logistics support between these two major ports (Patra and Piraeus) in Greece. It should also be mentioned that the number of traffic accidents on the Athens-Patra motorway section has been one of the highest in the country.

Macroeconomic figures also supported the development of the corridor. The Country’s sovereign debt was rated AA during tendering and until the initial stages of construction. However, the financial crisis has had a severe impact on the project, causing a steep decrease in traffic and a draw stop on behalf of the Lenders. Ever since 2010, the contract has been under re-negotiation, with a possibility of reducing the scope of work.

Project Locality and Market Geography

Considering the nature of Patra’s port as an import/export node, this project should be considered as international as well as regional. In combination with Ionia Odos, the sealink to Italy and the EU is supported (see figure 3)

http://epirusgate.blogspot.gr/2013_01_23_archive.html Figure 3: Sealink to Italy

Procurement & Contractual Structure

Tendering

The project was tendered in two phases (prequalification and final bid). The prequalification phase was announced in 2001. Seven (7) consortia expressed interest of which, four (4) where invited in 2006 to submit respective bids. This second phase of the tender procedure was conducted under a different government (lead by the opposition to the first government). Of the four consortia that were prequalified in the final phase of the tender, only two submitted offers for the project.

The project was awarded and signed in mid 2007 to an international consortium composed of 5 construction companies: Vinci (France), Hochtief (Germany), Ellaktor, J&P and Athena (Greece). In 2008, GEK Terna, also, entered the consortium as a Sponsor. The procurement process lasted almost 7 years.

Contract Structure

This is a typical concession scheme, under the DBFO structure. The project is returned to the Greek State upon expiry of the concession period. The Greek State is also a financier of the project, as it is obliged to contribute circa EUR 250M during the construction period (at the time of signing, the €500M of EU/Greek State funds were considered to be paid on a 50/50 basis – this was recently (2012) reduced to a 95/5 as part of Greece’s economic bailout package). User toll fees paid throughout the concession period should also be considered as public funds.

Tariff increases are linked to construction milestone achievements, while the maximum real value of the tariff was set in the contract. Contract Termination clauses include full compensation of Lenders’ exposure regardless of whether termination default is attributed to the SPV or the State. Lastly, the contract includes payments to the State, calculated as a percentage of the total revenues of the SPV – this was a major part of the awarding formula for the project; this percentage is 60% on average throughout the concession period.

User fees are the primary source of revenue for the Concession company throughout the 30 year concession period. These funds are used to cover operating and maintenance costs, debt and equity repayment, and the State’s percentage share of revenues.. The payment structure and State percentage revenue share were parts of the award criteria during the tender process.

Risk Allocation

Traffic risk remains one of the major issues driving the renegotiation process (2010 to present). The Greek financial crisis and associated recession have had an increased impact on the project’s revenues, as the current traffic trends are showing a decrease exceeding 50% of the initial traffic envisaged.

Notably, initial forecasts made prior to the project’s implementation indicated an annual GDP growth rate of 3.8% and a motorization growth rate of 0.74% for Greece; these estimates assumed an annual traffic volume growth of 14.4% for Greece (Source: TEN-STAC Scenarios, Traffic Forecasts and Analysis of Corridors on the Trans-European Transport Network - 2003).

Land Acquisition caused significant problems to the project’s progress, as there were unrealistic expectations that the State would be able to acquire the required land for the project in a short time frame. In fact, delays due to land acquisition have been a main source of claims against the State in the project so far. Environmental claims have also caused significant problems to the project, causing work to stop in some sections.

Risk is allocated as depicted in figure 4.

Figure 4: Risk allocation

Performance

The Independent Engineer is responsible for evaluating construction performance, along with the Awarding Authority. The Awarding Authority is responsible for evaluating operation performance following the construction period. No Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are included in the contract.

However, several key metrics are included in the financing agreements (annexes to the concession agreement). These metrics are used in the evaluation of the debt viability of the project and failure to meet them can form grounds for project default. These include the debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) and the loan life coverage ratio (LLCR).

References

  • N. Nikolaidis, A. Roumboutsos, 2013, Olympia Odos Motorway In Roumboutsos, A., Farrell, S., Liyanage, C. L. and Macário, R, COST Action TU1001 Public Private Partnerships in Transport: Trends & Theory P3T3, 2013 Discussion Papers Part II Case Studies, ΙSBN 978-88-97781-61-5, COST Office, Brussels available at http://www.ppptransport.eu
  • Kokklas, G., Papandreou, K., Handanos, Y. (2011) Access Management at Peak Hours on an Interurban corridor under Construction. The *Case of “Korinthos-Patra secton of Olympia Odos. Proceedings, 1st International Conference on Access Management, June 15-17, 2011, Athens, Greece
  • Roadway fatalities: TEN-STAC Scenarios (2003), Traffic Forecasts and Analysis of Corridors on the Trans-European Transport Network
  • The Olympia Odos Contract, Greek Law 3621/2007 of 20 Dec 2007 of the Official Gazette.
  • www.olympiaodos.gr