Major players meet DESFA sale’s first-round deadline

Local energy market authorities have declared as a success the turnout of virtually all the major European operators for a renewed international tender offering 66 percent of DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator.

Though still at a preliminary stage, the sale procedure, whose deadline for first-round non-binding offers expired yesterday, has drawn two formidable consortiums that appear prepared to make serious bids for the DESFA majority stake on offer.

One of these fancied teams is made up of Italy’s Snam, Spain’s Enagas, Belgium’s Fluxys and Dutch operator Gasunie and the other Romania’s Transgas and France’s GRTgaz.

The first of these two bidding teams appears to be the firm favorite as three of its members also hold stakes in the TAP consortium developing the TAP gas pipeline, to run across northern Greece, through Albania and the Adriatic Sea to Italy. The emergence of the TAP-related entry for the DESFA sale certainly adds clout and bidding potential to the sale procedure.

The second major bidding team should not be underestimated. France’s GRTgaz stands one of the EU’s biggest energy sector firms operating the most extensive network of gas pipelines.

Regasificadora del Noroeste S.A, a second Spanish firm that met yesterday’s deadline, can be regarded as an outsider. It operates a pipeline network in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia.

Questions linger over the prospects of other tender participants such as Qatar’s Powerglobe, US firm Intergrated Utility Services and Australian entry Macquarie Infrastructure, a non-EU group taking part as one of its subsidiaries is linked to an Italian network operator.