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FACTDROP: SOCAR vs. Gazprom for Greece’s DEPA


SOCAR vs. Gazprom for Greece’s DEPA

Πηγή: New Europe
April 6 2013

BAKU – State Oil Company of Azerbaijan SOCAR is competing with Russian gas monopoly Gazprom for Greece’s public gas corporation, DEPA, which is being sold as part of the Greece's privatisation programme. But there is more at stake than just buying one more EU energy company.

SOCAR is likely to compete with Gazprom to control non-Russian transportation routes to Europe, Gulmira Rzayeva, Research Fellow at Azerbaijan's Centre for Strategic Studies, told New Europe in Baku on 5 April. This is a healthy competition in the tender bidding for the same stake although the companies' financial capacities are not equal, she added.

“The Azerbaijani company will also need the Greek gas transmission company to invest in the EU country’s downstream market, which is in line with SOCAR’s long-term strategy,” she said.

It seems that SOCAR does not want to let Gazprom take over the control of transportation of the gas via Greece, the only entry point to the South Europe, Rzayeva said.

Even if the Shah Deniz consortium picks Nabucco instead of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to carry 10 billion cubic metres of Azerbaijani gas to Europe, SOCAR wants to keep the Greek market in hand to use the infrastructure to export up to 1 billion cubic metres to the Mediterranean country via the Turkey-Greece Interconnector, she said.

Greece’s DEPA has 50% stake at the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector (IGB). Another 50% belongs to Italian Edison. Edison is a close partner of Gazprom in the Russian-backed South Stream gas pipeline project as well as one of its biggest clients.

Considering the importance of IGB in the Southern Corridor, Gazprom, by influencing Edison, can freeze indefinitely the construction of the 168-kilometre pipeline, Rzayeva said, pointing out that during three years the construction of the pipeline has still not been completed.

A Memorandum for understanding has been signed between Bulgarian BEH EAD and the Greek gas distribution operator DESFA, which foresees natural gas supplies for the Bulgarian market through utilisation of the capacity of the Greek liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal Revitusa, gas interconnection Greece-Turkey, as well as capacity in the Greek national gas network if required by the Bulgarian country in compliance with the national legislation.

Rzayeva said that by buying Greece’s DEPA/DESFA, SOCAR can also automatically get a share in IGB as DEPA has stakes in the project and push the project to finalise the construction.

Asked if Azerbaijan is interested in DEPA, Minister of Industry and Energy Natiq Aliyev told New Europe in Baku that this is a decision that concerns SOCAR. He added that it’s too early to say about interest in DEPA because it is not known which pipeline route will be selected.

Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz consortium said on 1 April it started a final “detailed evaluation” on the Nabucco West and the Tran-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) proposals. “At the end of June it will be clear,” Aliyev said, adding that Azerbaijan does not prefer one project over the other. “Both of them Nabucco West, TAP are a priority of the European Union. But I think for us there is no difference,” Aliyev said.

Rzayeva told New Europe that the final proposals submitted by Nabucco West and TAP as well as the sale and purchase agreements between gas buyers and the Shah Deniz consortium will play a key role in the decision.

“Both projects have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, to build TAP is cheaper than Nabucco. On the other hand, the Italian market can be oversupplied in the short-term and gas demand there will not grow,” Rzayeva said. “More or less both projects are now equal. It’s the final countdown. We have to wait two more months to see."

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