Gov’t making last-ditch effort for Cypriot deal on Crete grid link

The government, determined to move ahead with the country’s grid interconnection projects in support of economic and environmental concerns, is making a final effort to establish cooperation between Greek power grid operator IPTO and Cypriot consortium EuroAsia Interconnector, at odds for development control of a grid project to link Crete with Athens.

The EuroAsia Interconnector consortium heads a wider PCI-status project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids.

“We need to have made decisions by October 4. Grid Interconnections are a priority for environmental and economic reasons,” energy minister Costis Hatzidakis stressed yesterday, speaking at a conference staged by the Hellenic Entrepreneurs Association (EENE).

The government is seeking to make the most of ongoing visits to Greece by Cypriot minister of energy, commerce industry and tourism Giorgos Lakkotrypis and former foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides, now Euroasia Interconnector’s Chairman of the Strategic Council.

The Greek energy ministry has not ruled out an agreement with Euroasia Interconnector for the Crete-Athens grid link but has made clear swift development of the project is the top priority. A Greek-Cypriot-Israeli grid interconnection is still desired by the Greek government but the Cretan link is seen as even more crucial, Hatzidakis, the energy minister, is insisting, according to sources.

Euroasia Interconnector and the European Commission have requested the cancellation of a decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, awarding the Cretan project to Ariadne, a fully-owned IPTO subsidiary. This would delay progress.

“The only remaining prospect for cooperation would require Euroasia to provide the needed capital for a stake in Ariadne. But the Cypriot consortium appears unwilling or unable to do this,” an official deeply involved in the matter has informed.

The Cretan grid link project will be continued as a national project if current talks with the Cypriot side do not lead to any agreement, sources informed. If so, the Greek government is expected to deliver a pending reply to Brussels making clear that it does not support the entire Athens-Crete-Cyprus-Israel project.

Meanwhile, prospective bidders of a tender concerning the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project’s engineering, procurement and construction of two converter stations and a GIS substation have been given a further deadline extension. An initial August 30 deadline had been reset for September 30 before the latest extension.