Global gas price decline to bring local rate reduction of 20 pct

Natural gas will be 20 percent cheaper for Greek consumers by March, while the first 5 percent drop in rates will come next month thanks to the significant decline in the commodity’s global prices, according to Environment, Energy and Climate Change Deputy Minister Makis Papageorgiou.

Speaking on the fringes of the Greek Energy Forum on Tuesday, Papageorgiou also revealed a plan by the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) to keep reducing rates throughout 2015. He said that DEPA’s business plan provides for the expansion of the company into new activities such as the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) in remote parts of the country and providing gas for vehicle fuel, offering further scope for the reduction of rates. Although he did not elaborate, Papageorgiou implied that the reduction of DEPA’s profit margin is being examined.

Speaking with reporters, the deputy minister also referred to efforts to privatize the natural gas transmission network operator (DESFA). He said that there are ongoing negotiations between Azerbaijan and the European Commission’s competition authorities concerning the completion of the agreement for the transfer of the DESFA stake to Azeri state firm Socar. Among the scenarios under examination is the transfer of a number of shares to a third European company immediately after the sale of the 66 percent stake to Socar.

Kathimerini understands that the talks concern a 17 percent stake – or about a quarter of the 66 percent stake to be sold to Socar – that will be sold on to Belgium’s Fluxys, which is a partner of Socar in the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). Papageorgiou said in his speech that the cancellation of the South Stream pipeline has upgraded TAP’s importance.