Socar official, minister meet today on DESFA amendment

Anar Mammadov, managing director of Socar Energy Greece, the Azeri energy company’s local subsidiary, will meet with Greece’s energy minister Panos Skourletis today in an attempt to convince the latter to change his amendment submitted to Greek Parliament just days ago for a drastic reduction of the regulatory asset base (RAB) of DESFA, the natural gas grid operator, used to determine the operator’s revenues.

The Azeri company, which had agreed to purchase a 66 percent stake of DESFA after winning an international tender in 2013 but, more recently, was ordered by the European Commission to surrender a 17 percent share and offer it to a certified European operator, appears willing to accept revisions to the original agreement. However, Italy’s Snam, a prime candidate for the surrendered 17 percent stake, appears less flexible on the issue.

If the minister’s amendment is ratified as is, which would greatly reduce DESFA’s network usage revenue potential, then Snam could well withdraw its interest for a 17 percent stake of the operator.

Officials at TAIPED, the State Privatization Fund, who have received complaints from parties interested in DESFA’s 17 percent, are keeping a close watch on the developments and could demand revisions to the amendment when the time comes for it to be ratified.

Yesterday, TAIPED’s president Stergios Pitsiorlas told journalists that the sale of DESFA’s 66 percent may be finalized by the end of this year.