ECONOMY

Socar wants to see DESFA expand abroad

A high-level delegation of Socar officials in Athens on Thursday informed officials of Greece’s natural gas transmission network operator (DESFA) and Deputy Minister for Energy Asimakis Papageorgiou of the company’s interest in expanding DESFA, which it is about to acquire, to the countries of Eastern Europe, via the supply of know-how about the management of natural gas systems and the development of services.

As DESFA officially announced on Thursday, the first agreement for the company’s international cooperation concerns the supply of know-how to the Georgian natural gas operator and is expected to be signed within September.

That is why the Socar delegation in Athens also included the director of Socar Georgia Gas, Anar Mammadov. The mission further included Socar’s deputy head of division for legal support of international projects, Nurlan Mustafayev, and oil products operator Timur Huseynov. The three Socar officials paved the way for the arrival in Athens of the company’s top management in the next 20 days ahead of the completion of the transfer of DESFA’s 66 percent stake.

While in Athens, the Socar delegation also met with the top officials of state privatization fund TAIPED and the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) and visited the DESFA installations at Patima in Elefsina and on Revythousa island, where they attended an official presentation of the investment for the construction of a third natural gas storage tank.

The DESFA administration, led by its president, Panos Mavrokefalos, and chief executive officer, Giorgos Paparsenos, informed the Azeri officials about the course of the network operator’s finances, its emergence as the seventh most profitable Greek company in 2012, the progress of its investment program of 1.6 billion euros, the operation of the domestic natural gas market, the interventions for the increase of revenues from non-regulated services, and the preparation of the company for cooperation with operators in other Eastern European countries. The DESFA statement said that the Socar officials expressed satisfaction with DESFA’s finances, its operation and human resources.

TAIPED officials estimate that the completion of DESFA’s sale to Socar will likely be completed within the first quarter of 2014. The deal will be submitted for approval to the State Audit Council and then to RAE. By October it will also have been forwarded to the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition and the European energy regulator, ACER.