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Italgas completes purchase of Greek gas grid, plans modernisation

·2-min read
Illustration shows Italgas logo

ATHENS (Reuters) -Italgas said on Thursday it had concluded a deal to buy Greek gas grid DEPA Infrastructure from Greece's privatisation agency and Hellenic Petroleum and said it planned to expand and digitise it.

DEPA Infrastructure, which the agency and Hellenic Petroleum agreed to sell for 733 million euros ($735 million), holds stakes in Greece's three main gas distribution operators, which together manage 7,500 km (4,700 miles) of gas network.

The Italian group, which runs about 74,000 km (46,000 miles) of regulated gas pipelines, clinched the deal last year and said it would invest 8.6 billion euros to 2028 to modernise the Greek gas grid and complete the upgrade of its Italian network.

"We will put our experience and our technological know-how at the disposal of the country to build an infrastructure of excellence and with it contribute to achieving the coal and lignite phase-out targets set by the government, in line with those of the EU," Italgas Chief Executive Paolo Gallo said in a statement.

Italgas said it aimed to fully digitise the Italian grid in a few months to make it easier to use more green hydrogen and synthetic fuels as part of European efforts to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050.

"Gas infrastructure, to be able to do that, ... needs to be smart, digital and flexible," Gallo told a news conference in Athens, adding the firm had similar plans for the Greek network.

Italgas aimed to expand the Greek grid to serve around 1 million customers, up from about 600,000 now, he said.

Greek media earlier reported that Greek Copelouzos group was in talks with Italgas to buy a 10% to 20% stake in the entity that will own DEPA Infrastructure.

"That is more or less the size that we are talking about," Gallo told reporters, adding that a deal could take weeks or months to be finalised.

Athens has raised 7.6 billion euros from state asset sales since 2011, a key plank of its three international bailouts which ended in 2018.

After the COVID-19 pandemic weighed on 2020-2021 privatisation revenues, bringing in just 680 million euros, Greece expects revenues of 2.2 billion euros this year, including DEPA Infrastructure.

($1 = 0.9970 euro)

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Jason Neely, Edmund Blair and Jonathan Oatis)