BUSINESS

Romanian and Belgian gas grid operators show interest in DESFA

CHRYSSA LIAGGOU

TAGS: Energy, Privatizations

A few hours after the breakdown in talks between Athens and Azeri state company Socar concerning the acquisition of a 66 percent stake in DESFA by the latter, it became known that Greece’s gas grid operator has attracted the interest of its Romanian peer Transgaz, while the interest of Belgian operator Fluxys remains unchanged. This creates expectations for a successful new tender.

At the same time Hellenic Petroleum is expected to reconsider its participation in DESFA, assessing the new conditions and growth prospects of the domestic natural gas market, and mainly the role that DESFA’s infrastructure can play combined with the operation of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (currently under construction) in the creation of a gas hub in the broader Southeastern European region.

Sources say that last week Transgaz officials visited DESFA’s co-owner Hellenic Petroleum as well as Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis and expressed their interest in a stake in the Greek gas grid operator. The representatives of the Romanian company told the Greek side that they intend to pay a similar amount to what Socar had pledged (400 million euros), dubbing it reasonable and feasible. They added that they are already in talks with European banks which are ready to finance this Romanian investment in Greece.

Transgaz plays a vital role in the development of infrastructure for the interconnection of the countries of Central and Southeastern Europe, and supports the implementation of the so-called “Vertical Corridor” seen linking the systems of Romania, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria and Greece, allowing for the transmission of natural gas from the Caspian region and other sources to Central Europe, including liquefied natural gas (LNG) through the Revythousa terminal station. The project has the support of the European Union and the US, which is seeking ways for cheap LNG to reach the European markets.

DESFA’s geostrategic role is also what has sustained Fluxys’s interest in the Greek operator, while the two companies share many similar characteristics.

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