Ministry role in possible ELPE-PDVSA union sparks reaction

An announcement made earlier today by the Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Ministry declaring its interest to explore the prospect of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) teaming up with Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA for an international tender offering twenty offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete has unsettled rival companies. They suspect procedures may end up being biased as a result of the intervention of the ministry, which is in charge of the tender.

The ministry’s announcement was released following a meeting between Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and the Venezuelan ambassador to Greece, Farid Fernandez, with ELPE chief executive Grigoris Stergioulis also participating.

Officials at rival companies are distressed, believing the tender’s procedure is purely entrepreneurial, which makes the Greek energy ministry’s intervention inappropriate.

“The ministry has the right and obligation to try and attract companies from all over the world and open up the bidding process as much as possible, but not the right to intervene with the aim of forging deals between companies, even if one of these is part-owned by the state,” a sector official noted.

The Latsis Group holds a 42.6 percent stake in ELPE, while the Greek state maintains a 35.5 percent equity share in the oil company.

The tender’s deadline has been set for July 14.