Greek gas firm DEPA seeks loan to pay suppliers

Greece’s state-owned gas provider DEPA is in talks with domestic banks to secure a loan to pay for its imports, a company official said on Friday, as the austerity-hit country seeks to avoid a collapse of its electrical power network.

State-controlled DEPA does not have enough cash to pay about 120 million euros ($151 million) due later this month on contracts with suppliers such as Russia’s Gazprom.

DEPA provides Greek power companies with most of the natural gas they burn. But the electricity producers have failed to pay their bills to DEPA because they, in turn, have not been paid for the power they provide.

The loan that is being arranged with a string of Greek private and public-sector banks would help keep the gas flowing for at least a month, a DEPA official told Reuters.

“DEPA is in negotiations with a consortium of Greek banks for a loan that will allow it to service its obligations for at least a month, until early July,» said the official, who asked not to be named.

Greece imports all its natural gas from abroad. About 80 percent of its imports come via pipeline from Russia. According to industry sources, DEPA faces a June 22 deadline to settle obligations to Gazprom.

Last week, energy regulator RAE said it would call an emergency meeting with industry players to resolve the impasse. But the talks will probably be postponed for next week after a DEPA board meeting scheduled for Monday, a RAE official told Reuters. [Reuters]

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