Gas utility sale will be canceled, DESFA decision on hold

The country’s new left-wing Syriza-led coalition government will cancel the previous administration’s plans to sell DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis announced today in a Reuters interview.

As noted by the news agency, the announcement by the minister, who represents the more radical wing of the left-leaning party, further reinforces earlys signs that the government is sticking to campaign pledges that have chilled investment and unnerved financial markets.

“In no way will we privatize DEPA and sell it to anyone, no matter who the interested party is,” Lafazanis told Reuters, ruling out the possibility of the planned sale of a 65 percent stake in the gas utility.

However, he remained more reserved in his comments on the sale of DESFA, the country’s Natural Gas Transmission System Operator, to Azeri state energy firm SOCAR, a deal agreed in 2013. Lafazanis noted that the government would act only after a decision was reached later this year by the European Commission, currently investigating the agreement over EU competition concerns.

“We will wait for the EU Competition Commission’s decision and then decide on our own moves,” he said.

Commenting on a gold mine in northern Greece’s Halkidiki region being operated by Canadian company Eldorado Gold Corp, Lafazanis remarked “we are absolutely against it and we will examine our next moves on it.”

Ranked as one of the biggest foreign investment projects in the country, it stood as the flagship project of the previous government’s foreign investment drive and was seen as a test case that would reveal whether Greece could protect foreign investors despite local opposition.