Greece tries to win round Azeris to TAP gas pipeline

Government officials appeared upbeat Monday that Azerbaijan will choose to transport its natural gas via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will pass through Greece, following Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s visit to Baku on Sunday.

“We are in the final stretch so that by June the Azeris will have opted for TAP as their choice for transporting gas to Europe,” Panayiotis Michalos, a senior Foreign Ministry official, told the Athens-Macedonia News Agency.

Talks between Samaras and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev lasted for an hour-and-a-half, twice as long as scheduled, according to sources who said the two leaders also discussed closer cooperation in the tourism and culture sectors. Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR is also one of the leading contenders for the purchase of Greece’s natural gas network operator, DESFA.

In a related development, the CEO of Russian energy giant Gazprom, Alexey Miller, is reportedly back in Athens, his third visit to Greece since March, stepping up the firm’s interest in the planned privatization of Greece’s Public Gas Corporation (DEPA).

Miller visited Greece twice in March to discuss the matter.