BUSINESS

Gazprom hosts gas price talks with DEPA as PM to meet Putin

By Chryssa Liaggou and Giorgos Terzis

Russian energy giant Gazprom met with delegates of Greece’s Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) for a new round of talks on Monday aimed at preventing the latter from resorting to arbitration over the price the Russian company sells its gas to Greece. The invitation comes as Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

The management of the Greek utility got the green light from the government and traveled to St Petersburg for negotiations after an unexpected invitation by Gazprom, instead of continuing negotiations through an exchange of letters.

Until late last night there was no news concerning the progress of talks, but Greek energy market sources interpret the move by the Russians as indicative of their intention to back down further on the issue of price.

The latest Gazprom offer for $405 per 1,000 cubic meters was rejected by the Greek side, while DEPA was ordered by Athens to reject any price of $400/1,000c.m. or over and to demand that the rate be applied retroactively for one year, double what the Russians are proposing.

The issue of the gas rates will be central in the meeting between Samaras and Putin in Brussels at 5 p.m. – their first meeting in two years – in the context of the “Industry Matters” conference in the Belgian capital.

Samaras has already requested that Putin push for a reduction of the price Gazprom charges DEPA for gas, as a discount on the rate – which is higher that what other European countries have to pay – would entail a major benefit for households and enterprises in Greece.

Athens also maintains high expectations from its relations with Moscow and wishes for Gazprom to be present in the tender for the privatization of DEPA.

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