New DESFA tender tailor-made for certified European operators

Determined to avoid a repeat of the recently failed international tender that had offered a majority stake of DESFA, the natural gas grid operator, energy ministry officials, preparing a follow-up tender, have made at least two changes which they believe will offer a tailor-made solution for certified European operators and ensure the sale’s successful completion.

According to energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, one of these two revisions will forbid offering a majority stake of DESFA to any enterprise that is concurrently active in both natural gas production and trade.

This term will enable the sale effort to comply with strict gas market regulations maintained by the European Commission. In a related development, Brussels is currently locked in a dispute with Gazprom over a plan by the Russian giant to construct new gas pipelines.

A second measure being planned for the follow-up DESFA tender will require prospective bidders to be certified operators of European gas networks. This detail is expected to ensure swift progress of the renewed sale effort.

The first international tender concerning the DESFA sale prompted the European Commission to react against the winning bidder Socar over competition concerns. The Azerbaijaini energy company was ordered to surrender at least 17 percent of the 66 percent stake of the operator it had agreed to acquire. Italy’s Snam then stepped in to join forces with Socar for the DESFA tender deal. However, the procedure suffered a further setback when the recently replaced Greek energy minister Panos Skourletis imposed revenue-restricting measures on DESFA.

According to the current energy minister, the terms and conditions being prepared for the new DESFA international tender will offer incentives for high bids.