ECONOMY

DESFA to be used as launch pad for Socar’s Balkan expansion

Azeri energy company Socar is processing plans for the development of natural gas networks in other Balkan countries, placing priority on Albania and Montenegro, which do not have any such networks, as well as Serbia, which faces serious shortfalls.

The basis for the plan will be the acquisition of 66 percent stake of the Greek gas transmission network operator, DESFA, while the project will make the most of the synergies created by the implementation of the plan for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), following Socar’s entry into the consortium that controls TAP with a 20 percent share.

Socar officials have already presented Deputy Energy Minister Makis Papageorgiou with their plan for expansion to the Balkans. The Greek official is the state’s representative in developments at DESFA, with the plan set to be finalized with the arrival of Socar’s top brass in Athens next month.

The objective of both the Azeri and the Greek sides is for preparations to be completed within the next six months, when the agreement for the transfer of the 66 percent stake in DESFA is expected to be completed. Socar officials are following every strategic move by DESFA, with the two sides having also agreed to form a joint working group to undertake the smooth transition to its new ownership status.

Greek officials say that the Azeris view Greece, and DESFA in particular, not just as their entry point to Europe but also as a launch pad for their strategic expansion into the European market for the full utilization of TAP and the new Shah Deniz II gas reserves. In a related move, the Azeris will this Friday sign with the Greek Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) an agreement for the supply of 1 billion cubic meters of gas per year from 2019 onward at a privileged price.