Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (Mar.9-12)

Analysis Materials 17 March 2015 12:56 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan sees no conflict of interest in DESFA deal

From Azerbaijan's perspective, there is no conflict of interest in the state oil company SOCAR's acquiring the majority stake in the Greek gas transmission system operator DESFA, EurActiv quoted Azerbaijan's Energy Minister Natig Aliyev as saying.

The minister said Azerbaijan expressed concern over the European Commission's investigation into the deal's compatibility with EU law.

Aliyev also noted that Azerbaijan, which won the tender for acquisition of stake in DESFA, is wondering why the European Commission is taking so long to decide if the deal is compatible with the EU law.

He also said that at a meeting in Brussels with European Commission's Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, he conveyed his concern over the procedure.

In December 2013, SOCAR won the tender for acquisition of 66 percent stake in DESFA for 400 million euros. The remaining shares will belong to Greece.

But in November 2014, the European Commission opened an in-depth investigation to determine whether the acquisition of DESFA SOCAR is in line with the EU Merger Regulation.

The minister explained that from Azerbaijan's perspective, there was no conflict of interest in acquiring the majority stake in SOCAR, because the owner of the gas to be pumped through the Southern Gas Corridor was not Azerbaijan, but the consortium of the Shah Deniz II gas field, from where it originates.

"As you know, in Shah Deniz, Azerbaijan has now a participation share of only 16.6 percent," Aliyev said. "That's why we don't think one should look at Azerbaijan both as the owner, the transporter and the distributor of gas.

I hope that the European Commission will take this into account."