Regions

Athens goes for gas grid privatization

September 1
9:21 PM 2015

The crisis-hit European nation Greece is heading towards privatization of its energy sector. The country is also in favor of reforms in several sectors to give a new life to the ailing economy.

Towards this, Athens may give green signal to Azerbaijan government oil company SOCAR for taking a substantial holding in Greece's gas grid company. The Azerbaijan state-owned company will invest $457million for 60 percent stake in Greece energy Grid Company.

This will be a first step in transforming the country as a major energy hub in the region.

Greece agency for privatization says that the discussions with SOCAR have been in progress since 2013. The news about possible approval to SOCAR came at a time when Greece is heading for general elections this month. Greece elections are scheduled on 20 September 2015. 

Greece aims to be a major hub for the energy sector in the region. As part of this, the country needs investments in the energy sector. Greece authorities put in efforts gone without results as the country was reeling under uncertainty over the third round of economic bailout package. This had dampened the chances of renegotiation as well. 

Greece has firmed up plans to make the country as transport hub or production center in the region. Greece prefers to have transport projects from countries like Azerbaijan. Greece has the geographical advantage to serve as transport hub for eastern natural gas producing countries.

Greece is planning to forge ties with oil producing countries that will help the nation to have more transport projects transforming it as a transport hub serving the European market by delivering gas to neighboring countries in the region. 

However, European Union (EU) has expressed its objection over Greece's transport hub plans. EU expresses its concern that such move will result in potential grid acquisition. Greece authorities are in the process to convince EU by addressing its concerns on the energy grid. 

Greece has taken up privatization proposal in 2010 after the economic crisis erupted in 2007 and 2008. But, political uncertainty and other developments couldn't allow the Greece government to go ahead with the privatization plan.

The latest euro 85billion ($92.5bn) bailout package facilitates such privatization moves with international creditors. The bailout package also enables the government to go for asset sales. 

Since the bailout package is subject to implementation of reforms in energy sector as well, the new government will be in a position to carry forward the energy grid asset sell off. The assets will be attached to an independent fund that will monetize the assets. 

There's a proposal to utilize euro25billion for repayment of recapitalization of banks and to some extent to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio.

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