Socar ‘still looking for buyer’ to take on 17% share of DESFA

Azeri energy company Socar is continuing its search for a buyer to take on 17 percent of DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, which it must surrender following European Commision intervention, energy minister Panos Skourletis has told Reuters.

Socar had agreed to purchase a 66 percent stake of DESFA after winning an international tender in 2013, but, more recently, the European Commission intervened to demand that a 17 percent share be offered to a certified European operator, which will reduce the Azeri firm’s control to 49 percent.

Skourletis is scheduled to meet with leading Socar officials next week when authorities gather in Thessaloniki for a ceremony to launch construction work for the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) project’s local segment.

In the Reuters interview, Skourletis also commented on the recent resumption of trade between ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and NIOC, the state-run National Iranian Oil Company, stressing that a first shipment of Iranian crude had already arrived in Greece.

Skourletis stated that Iranian officials regard Greece as a gateway to Europe for their crude exports, an approach shaped by this country’s advanced refining industry, rated as one of the most developed in the Mediterranean region.

The minister also noted that the TAP project’s development is compatible with the prospective Greek-Bulgarian interconnector (IGB) and floating LNG station planned for Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece.

Skourletis reminded that he is scheduled to meet with his Bulgarian counterpart Temenuzhka Petkova next Monday.