ELPE officials set for Iran visit to further discuss cooperation

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) officials are preparing to soon visit Tehran, energypress has been informed, for further talks with Iranian government and NIOC (state-run National Iranian Oil Company) officials on the prospects of Iran’s support in the development of a prospective floating LNG station in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, as well as joint development of a new refining facility in Greece.

In the lead-up to the visit, Greece’s energy minister Panos Skourletis met yesterday with Iran’s ambassador to Greece, Majid Motallebi Shabestari.

Iran is currently working on two objectives, one to increase oil production to the country’s pre-embargo levels, the other to establish a base in Europe for refining and selling its production in the continent.

Iranian officials have also held talks with Bulgaria as an alternative option to this plan, while other countries in the region may also be at play, which means that Greece needs to act fast if it wants to be a part of these Iranian business interests.

At this stage, Greek officials are believed to be considering either an expansion of an existing ELPE refinery in Thessaloniki or development of a new one in Thrace, in the country’s northeast.

The Iranian proposal for business in Greece is not linked to outstanding debt owed by ELPE to NIOC as a result of lingering banking restrictions in Iran following the lifting of the western-imposed trade sanctions early this year.

Iran is now ready to start supplying LNG. Last month, following a meeting between Iran’s oil minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh and Bulgarian energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova, Bulgarian media reported that Zangeneh expressed an interest to start supplying Iranian LNG to Greece and Bulgaria once the IGB (Interconnector Greece Bulgaria) project is completed.  The Iranian minister also stressed Iran’s interest to help develop the Alexandroupoli LNG station.

NIGC’s registration for an oil and gas conference in Athens on September 28 is indicative of Iran’s interest. The event will provide Iranian officials with the opportunity to hold crucial talks at political and entrepreneurial levels.