Snam jockeying for position on wider region’s energy map

Italy’s Snam, one of the prime candidates in Greek natural gas grid operator DESFA’s new tender offering a 66 percent stake, appears to be eyeing the wider region, not just the local market, as indicated by its signing of a Memoradum of Cooperation with Albania’s Albgaz.

Snam appears keen to establish itself as a key player in the emerging Albanian gas market through the development and utilization of networks to be supplied gas by the TAP pipeline.

The Italian company holds a 20 percent share in the TAP consortium developing the gas pipeline, to stretch through northern Greece and cross Albania all the way to Italy.

Snam has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with DESFA concerning the maintenance and operation of the TAP project’s Albanian segment.

In another initiative, Snam signed a cooperation memorandum with the EDA Thess gas supply company to support the latter’s development and operation of a natural gas network covering the wider Thessaloniki and Thessaly regions.

These moves suggest that the Italian company strongly believes in the potential of the southeast European gas market, until recently largely neglected by major European corporate groups. New markets are now being created while existing ones are being liberalized ahead of the prospect of new gas transmission plans from the east to Europe.

DESFA tender bidders face an August 7 first-round deadline for non-binding offers. The procedure’s deadline was offered a slight extension following the late emergence of an unidentified Greek-American investor.

Besides Snam, which could team up with a fund for the DESFA sale, Belgium’s Fluxys may join forces with Spain’s Enagas rather than Dutch gas company Gasunie, it was reported yesterday.