Socar says it will soon wrap up deal for DESFA

Azeri state energy company Socar said on Saturday it has started talks with the Greek government on purchasing the country’s natural gas transmission network operator DESFA, after being the only bidder in a failed tender for the asset sale.

“The tender procedure on the privatization of DESFA is over and Socar has started talks with the Greek government,» Socar’s President Rovnag Abdullayev told reporters.

“It means that the whole natural gas distribution system of Greece will be in our hands soon.”

Russian energy company Sintez and Greek-Czech group PPF-Terna dropped out of the race for DESFA earlier this month, leaving Socar as the only major player in the running.

Abdullayev said that a purchase of Greek assets would «strengthen the export potential of Socar.”

Socar wants to increase the level of its gas distribution in Greece, from 17 percent at present, and deliver gas from the major Shah Deniz field off Azerbijan to the European country.

Greece failed to attract any binding bids for natural gas firm DEPA earlier this month, meaning a key sale to meet the country’s privatization targets under its international bailout had floundered.