Socar announces principal DESFA deal

Azeri state-run energy giant Socar confirmed on Friday that it has reached a principal agreement with Greek state asset privatization fund TAIPED for the acquisition of a majority stake in the country’s natural gas transmission network operator (DESFA), but TAIPED sustained a blow at the same time, as Gazprom stated it will not make an offer if a tender for Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) comes up again.

The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan said on its website that, along with TAIPED, it is fine-tuning the final technical aspects of their agreement.

Socar President Rovnag Ibrahim Abdullayev released a statement in English saying: “This decision on purchasing DESFA is in true line with the existing high-level bilateral relationship between Greece and Azerbaijan as well as Socar and Greece’s leading energy companies. Socar has vast experience with natural gas pipeline systems in the Caspian region and is looking forward to start working in Greece as our first project of such type in the European Union. Socar is quite optimistic about the future of cooperation in Greece.”

According to TAIPED sources, the completion of the agreement is expected in the next couple of weeks, which would be after the Azeri government’s announcement on June 28 regarding its pipeline of choice for the transmission of Azeri gas to Western Europe between Nabucco West and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that would go through Greece.

On Friday the Environment and Energy Ministry announced the final text of the Host Government Agreement between Athens and the TAP consortium, which will be officially signed in the coming days.

“We now have all the necessary political agreements for the decision of Shah Deniz,” TAP managing director Kjetil Tungland said, referring to the Azeri gas reserve.

On the other hand, Russia’s state gas export monopoly Gazprom said on Friday it will not bid for DEPA in a possible new privatization tender, according to Reuters. Gazprom pulled out of the first tender at its second stage as it did not file a binding offer.

Asked whether Gazprom would bid again if there was a new tender in Greece, the head of Gazprom’s export arm, Alexander Medvedev, said, “No, we won’t go.”