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Miller, Samaras discuss Gazprom’s prospects for DEPA privatization

March 12, 2013, 18:36 UTC+3

Russia’s gas giant participates in the tender to buy Greece’s state gas firm and proposes 1.9 billion euro for it

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MOSCOW, March 12 (Itar-Tass) – Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller during his working visit to Athens has met with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to discuss prospects for the Russian gas giant’s participation in privatization of Greece’s state gas firm DEPA, Gazprom said in a statement on Tuesday.

Miller also held talks with Minister of Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Kostis Hatzidakis to focus on Gazprom’s current and future activity on the Greek energy market.

Russia’s gas giant participates in the tender to buy Greece’s state gas firm DEPA and proposes 1.9 billion euro for it, a much bigger sum than other bidders from Greece and Azerbaijan do.

At present, the Greek government owns a 65 percent stake in DEPA, other 35 percent of shares belong to state-owned company Hellenic Petroleum that had been put on sale as well.

Other Russian company, independent energy producer Negusneft of Sintez Group JSC offers around 2 billion euro for DEPA and gas distribution company DESFA.

Gazprom has no intention to buy DESFA taking into account requirements of the European Union’s Third Energy Package that in particular, demands that energy companies operating in Europe should separate their generation and sale operations from their transmission networks – electric power transmission lines and pipelines – and hand this infrastructure over to independent operators.

“It is evident that if not Gazprom, but the Russian company Sintez becomes an owner of DEPA, anyway it will have to agree with Gazprom, which is the main supplier of gas to Greece and Europe,” the director of the Russian National Energy Institute, Sergei Pravosudov, said.

Gazprom traditionally gives gas discounts to those countries that share their assets with it. A new owner of DEPA will be interested in getting such a discount to increase business profitability.

The expert recalled that the situation becomes even more aggravated as the issue of DEPA’s privatization getting increasingly politicized. The Greek authorities do not hide that the Russian companies offer the biggest sum for this asset. However, the U.S. authorities that fear reduction of their influence on Greece oppose the selling of DEPA to the Russian corporations, the expert added.

On April 12 tender envelopes with offers from five investors participating in the bidding contest for privatization of DEPA and DESFA will be opened. It is expected that a winner of the tender will be announced until the end of May.

At present, Greece imports from Russia around 70 percent of its total gas consumption and over 40 percent of its oil consumption. According to preliminary data, in 2012 Gazprom exported to Greece 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas.

Russia exports natural gas to Greece on the basis of the intergovernmental agreement of October 7, 1987, which expires in 2016, but can be extended by mutual agreement.



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