As part of its loan agreement with European financial powers, the Greek government agreed to raise nearly $25 billion by selling off state assets. Now, as the deadline for bids looms, United Press International reports that Russian oil giant Gaxprom is considering an effort to make purchases of state infrastructure in Greece, including the state gas company (DEPA) and DESFA, a gas pipeline operator.
The pipeline operation would give Russia new leverage in its ongoing energy transportation battle with Europe, while Greece faces continued austerity.
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UPI.com reports: Gazprom considering bid for Greece's DEPA
Russian state-owned energy firm Gazprom says it's considering bidding for Greek counterpart DEPA as cash-strapped Athens seeks to sell state assets.
Greece announced last month its Public Gas Corp. would be put on the auction block as part of the debt-burdened country's efforts to raise $25 billion through the sale of government-owned property -- a condition of its European bailout package.
Also being put up for sale is the Greek gas pipeline operator DESFA. Together the sale of the gas infrastructure could generate as much as $2.6 billion.
About 20 companies are expected to make bids by Thursday with a final selection to be revealed in early August. [...]
Gazprom's interest in acquiring DEPA could be part of a strategic move to influence the development of a Southern Corridor gas conduit connecting Europe with the vast reserves of the Caspian Sea -- a move aimed at lessening the European Union's dependence on Russian supplies.
The Southern Corridor aims to tap up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and other possible sources to provide the EU nations with more stable and cheaper alternative to Gazprom.
The buyer of DEPA could exert a big influence of over its development, analysts say.
Under some of the proposals, the Southern Corridor route would run through Greece -- as could Moscow's own entrant in the region, South Stream. That competing plan would send Russian gas to Europe under the Black Sea, bypassing Ukraine, used in the current supply route, as a transit nation.
Other likely bidders for DEPA and DESFA include Italy's Eni, which has worked with Gazprom in the South Stream effort, as well as the main Southern Corridor supplier, SOCAR, the state oil company of Azerbaijan, The Wall Street Journal reported.