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GREECE -- Foreign bidders are circling refiner Hellenic Petroleum, with Russia's two largest oil companies, Lukoil and Yukos, confirming their interest in a 30% stake and Austria's OMV also making an offer. Under a planned alliance Lukoil is likely to mount a joint bid with the local Latsis Group. The Greek state wants to cut its stake in Hellenic to below 51% but retain at least 35%. Hellenic has a 56% domestic market share in refined products sales and over half of Greece's refining capacity. It also imports and distributes oil and petrochemical products. It operates the 125,000 b/d Aspropyrgos refinery and the 66,500 b/d Thessaloniki plant, and has a 54% stake in Macedonia's Okta refinery. Lukoil already has a downstream alliance with Hellenic for the marketing of crude and products in Greece and the Balkans. OMV has invited Hellenic to participate in onshore exploration in Albania (PIW Aug.27,p6).

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