Italian minister’s refugee crisis visit to include energy matters

Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni’s emergency visit to Athens today, prompted by the refugee crisis, will also include energy matters on its agenda.

A series of meetings scheduled during Gentiloni’s whirlwind visit to the Greek capital include one with energy minister Panos Skourletis. The Italian minister will be accompanied by four Italian energy company executives who intend to remind Skourletis of their interest in doing business in Greece.

According to sources, an official representing Terna will point out that the company remains interested in buying a stake of IPTO, the power grid operator, regardless of whether this is a 20 percent stake the government plans to offer to a strategic investor or a 66 percent share if the Greek government’s proposal is not approved by the country’s lenders. Many officials believe rejection of the government’s IPTO plan cannot be ruled out.

An Edison official is expected to remind of the company’s interest for stakes in units owned by PPC, the main power utility. The company favorably views PPC chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis’s intention to establish partnerships with other European companies for PPC-related projects. However, the Edison official is expected to underline that hydropower plants will need to be included in the overall package.

An Eni representative will raise a compensation issue concerning the premature end of the company’s regional natural gas market monopolies in Thessaloniki and Thessalia, prompted by bailout-related gas market reforms. Eni holds 49% stakes in the Thessalia and Thessaloniki EPA gas supply companies. DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, holds majority 51 percent stakes in both.

An Enel official is expected to point out the company’s interest to increase its presence in Greece’s wind energy market.

Though no officials representing Snam have joined the Italian delegation, Gentiloni, Italy’s foreign minister, will highlight to Skourletis the Italian company’s interest in acquiring a 17 percent equity share of DESFA, the gas grid operator. Azeri energy company Socar, the winning bidder of an international tender offering 66 percent of DESFA, needs to surrender 17 percent following European Commision intervention.