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Russian oil giant Gazprom and energy firm Sintez Group are the leading bidders for Greece’s state-owned gas provider DEPA.The Greek group could be sold for 1.5 billion euros, an essential sum in view of economic recession.
The Greek government has a 65 per cent stake in DEPA, the other 35 per cent belong to Hellenic Petroleum.
Greece is now privatising DEPA and its subsidiary natural gas grid operator DESFA, motivated by the country’s increasing need to repay its debt and pressed by the troika.
So far the Russian companies are one of very few companies bidding for DEPA.
Among the other bidders is SOCA (State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic), Greece’s M2M partnership and GEK Terna, a Greek contractor and energy producer that is only interested in acquiring DESFA.
Offers from Italian, Algerian, Spainish, Israeli, Japanese, Dutch, Chinese and Czech companies were not considered.
Gazprom and Sintez’s desire to acquire Greece’s state-owned natural gas group has prompted warnings by the EU and US against opening the Greek market to Russian interests.
Gazprom currently supplies over 90 per cent of Greek natural gas needs.
And Sintez group sees the purchase beneficial to raising profits from an expected shift to natural gas.
On top of that Greece might become an important gas transport hub for Europe, and now Russia has a chance to enter the Greek market at a relatively low price.