Firms to strike oil deal

The landmark agreement on Monday to build the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline appears to have opened the door to further Russian investment in the Greek energy sector as sources said yesterday that Russian oil giant Lukoil is poised to buy a stake in Greece’s Motor Oil. In what is set to be the biggest deal of its kind in Greece, Lukoil is expected to soon announce it will pay some 500 million euros to purchase at least 20 percent in one of Greece’s biggest oil companies with the option to increase its stake at a later date, sources said. Lukoil is Russia’s biggest private oil company and is responsible for 2.1 percent of global oil production. It is thought that Lukoil is eyeing Motor Oil, which is owned by the Vardinoyiannis family, as a way of expanding its influence in the Balkan and Mediterranean markets. The two companies are soon expected to announce further cooperation in these areas. Lukoil did not comment on its alleged interest in the Greek firm but Motor Oil’s share price rose by 5 percent yesterday on the back of the rumors of Russian interest. There was speculation over recent weeks that the firms would strike a deal but this intensified when it emerged that Lukoil’s president, Vagit Alekperov, who accompanied Russian President Vladimir Putin to Greece on Monday, was still in Athens yesterday. Putin was in Athens to agree on a deal with Greece and Bulgaria to build a pipeline to transport Russian oil from the Black Sea to Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that another meeting would be held in the next few months to decide who will control the management of the pipeline. Greece, however, appears enthusiastic about the agreement reached on Monday. Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said the deal put Greece «on the global oil map.» Costas Keletsis, the New Democracy MP for Evros, the region where the pipeline will end, said the project would lead to the influx of investment and creation of jobs in the area.