EuroAsia project moving again, Egypt present with EuroAfrica

Development of the wider region’s two major electricity grid interconnections, the EuroAsia Interconnector, to link Greece, from Crete, with Cyprus and Israel, and EuroAfrica Interconnector, a complementary project to link Cyprus with the African continent via Egypt, was discussed at a meeting in Nicosia yesterday between Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and his Cypriot counterpart Natasa Pilides.

Progress at EuroAsia Interconnector, whose launch is scheduled for late in 2023, was held back by a Greek-Cypriot dispute prompted by Greek power grid operator IPTO’s withdrawal of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment from EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests.

The Crete-Athens segment is now being developed as a national project by IPTO and subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection.

EuroAsia Interconnector and EuroAfrica Interconnector promise to develop Cyprus into an electricity hub. A 310-km cable from Israel and a 498-km line from Egypt will converge at coastal Kofinou, in Cyprus’ south. From this hub, an 898-km cable is planned to link Cyprus with Crete before reaching Athens.

At yesterday’s meeting, the Greek and Cypriot energy ministers primarily focused on EuroAsia Interconnector, the Crete-Cyprus-Israel project, at a more mature stage.

Budgeted at 2.5 billion euros, this project, regarded as an EU Project of Common Interest, will promote regional energy security and further RES penetration in all three participating countries, Hatzidakis noted. The EU, it is estimated, will need to contribute at least half the project’s value.

Cyprus is the only EU member state without electricity grid interconnections.

Germany’s Siemens was awarded a procurement contract last May for EuroAsia Interconnector’s HVDC converter stations, budgeted at 623 million euros.

EuroAsia Interconnector was initially planned to offer 2 GW but this capacity has been halved, for the time being, as the other 1 GW will be used for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

EuroAsia Interconnector’s Israel-Cyprus segment is budgeted at 900 million euros while the cost of the bigger Cyprus-Crete section is estimated between 1.6 and 1.8 billion euros.

 

IPTO’s Ariadne Interconnection minority share offer resurfaces

Power grid operator IPTO has reopened the prospect of making available to investors a minority stake in its subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, established for the development of the Crete-Athens interconnection.

The possible sale essentially remained stagnant during a recent period of administrative changes at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Ariadne Interconnection has been commissioned the project’s construction IPTO but will cease to be involved in any way once the project is delivered to the operator for operation.

IPTO’s administration reminded RAE, in a letter forwarded just days ago, about a concession agreement it has signed with Ariadne Interconnection, offering a detailed description of the relations between the two companies for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project.

The project was originally planned to be a segment of a wider interconnection plan to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli electricity grids, with EuroAsia, a consortium of Cypriot interests, at the helm, before IPTO withdrew the Crete-Athens section for its development as a national project.

IPTO has noted a minority partner in Ariadne Interconnection could be offered a stake of up to 40 percent.

China’s SGCC, a strategic partner of IPTO holding a 24 percent stake, informed, some time ago, that it wants to acquire a 20 percent stake of Ariadne Interconnection. European operators such as Belgium’s Elia and France’s RTE, as well as major investment groups have also indicated they would be interested.

 

Athens-Crete interconnection work commences at both ends

Work at both ends of the Athens-Crete grid interconnection, Greece’s biggest infrastructure project at present, has begun in earnest, power grid operator IPTO sources have informed.

In the lead-up, IPTO subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, developing the project, and contractors signed contracts totaling approximately one billion euros last month.

Various preliminary studies and construction work are now underway. A high-voltage subsea cable is planned to run from Heraklion, Crete to Megara, slightly west of Athens.

Also, a converter station will be built close to the Cretan village Damasta.

A converter station will not be needed at Megara, on the Athenian side of the project. Instead, the interconnection’s line will run through an underground passage to reach a central unit, where the converter station will be installed.

IPTO has discussed the project with local communities to minimize any inconveniences. Requests made by locals, determined to conceal any visual impact, were taken into consideration by authorities when planning the project’s route.

Revisions were made to an environmental impact study approved by the energy ministry last April.

IPTO made significant changes for the Megara end of the interconnection, significantly increasing the operator’s budget for the project. Changes included the adoption of subterranean line passages. Similar-minded revisions have also been agreed to for the Cretan end’s Korakia area.

Once launched, the Athens-Crete grid interconnection promises to offer electricity consumers overall annual savings of 400 million euros in Public Service Compensation (YKO) surcharges, included in electricity bills.

The project will also offer major environmental benefits as CO2 emissions resulting from the overall electricity supply effort for Crete will be reduced by 60 percent once the Athens-Crete interconnection is fully launched.

This project represents Crete’s major-scale link. A preceding smaller-scale link from Crete to the Peloponnese has also been incorporated into the effort.

Norton Rose Fulbright Athens team advises on largest interconnection project

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has advised IPTO/ADMIE, the owner and operator of the Greek electricity transmission grid, on the concession of the Crete – Attica HVDC interconnection project, to ADMIE’s subsidiary, Ariadne Interconnection. It is the largest electricity grid infrastructure project ever developed in the country and one of the longest subsea electricity links (328kms) developed so far globally.

The project includes the construction of a bipolar high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable, linking the island of Crete with the transmission grid in the Athens metropolitan area (Attica), with a rated power of 1 GW (2 x 500 MW), as well as the construction of electrode stations, AC/DC converter stations and onshore (underground) high voltage lines in Crete and Attica. The project is expected to be commissioned in 2022 and its estimated budget is €1 billion.

Advice included the drafting of the concession agreement and also extended to the consultation of the concession agreement with the national regulatory authority for energy (RAE) and credit institutions which are interested in financing the implementation of the project.

The Norton Rose Fulbright team was led by Athens-based partner Vassilis Koroxenidis with assistance from senior associate Sergios Karotsieris. Dimitris Assimakis, head of the firm’s Greek energy practice, assisted the team on the national and EU regulatory and public procurement issues relevant to the project.

Dimitris Assimakis commented: “We are delighted to have assisted ADMIE, the Greek electricity TSO, with the implementation of this emblematic electricity interconnection project. This project illustrates ADMIE’s strong commitment to the further expansion of the transmission grid to the Aegean Sea islands. This contributes not only to the improvement of a reliable power supply and the economic growth of these regions but, most importantly, helps combat their environmental degradation and enables the addition of new renewable capacity from the islands into the national grid.”

IPTO, Ariadne agreement details partnership for Crete link

Power grid operator IPTO has signed a concession agreement with its fully owned subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection detailing their relationship for the Athens-Crete grid interconnection project, energypress sources have informed.

The agreement was prepared with assistance from legal and consulting firms to overcome concerns raised by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, following a decision by Greek authorities to develop this interconnection as a national project and not as part of the wider EuroAsia project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids.

RAE will now assess the concession agreement’s details and make observations, if needed, before procedures commence to bring investors into Ariadne Interconnection for a minority share.

The details of this entry procedure still remain unclear but the energy minister is expected to clarify through related legislation.

One of the ambiguities concerns whether large-scale RES projects on islands will be able to reserve IPTO interconnection capacities.

The Copelouzos group and Terna, for instance, maintain investment plans for Crete. If given the green light by the energy ministry, they will reserve capacities for the Athens-Crete interconnection, provide funds accordingly and be given corresponding stakes in Ariadne Interconnection.

Investors are expected to acquire up to 40 percent of Ariadne Interconnection, according to the IPTO board.

Chinese company SGCC, IPTO’s strategic partner with a 24 percent, has already expressed an interest to acquire a 20 percent stake in Ariadne Interconnection. Other interested parties include European operators, among them Belgium’s Elia and France’s RTE, as well as prominent financial groups possessing major investment portfolios.

Committee to oversee Greece, Cyprus, Israel grid link compatibility

Greek power grid operator IPTO, its Cypriot counterpart, DSMK, and project partners have been authorized by the energy ministries of the two countries to assemble a special committee tasked with ensuring technical compatibility between the prospective Athens-Crete grid interconnection and the planned Cypriot and Israeli links.

The Athens-Crete grid interconnection, work on which is set to begin, will be developed by IPTO subsidiary Ariadne Interconnector, following the Greek grid operator’s break away from Cyprus’ EuroAsia Interconnector, originally formed to oversee the entire interconnection project, from Greece to Israel, but now handling its Cyprus and Israel segments.

The Greek and Cypriot energy ministries have asked IPTO, DSKK, Ariadne Interconnector and EuroAsia Interconnector to assemble the special committee within the next fortnight.

Greece’s energy ministry is determined to contribute to all efforts resolving any technical issues for the wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli interconnection but development of the Athens-Crete section, nationally significant as it promises to prevent energy shortages on Crete, remains the ministry’s main concern at this stage, sources informed.

The Greek government is providing strong political support to the Crete-Cyprus and Cyprus-Israel segments, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou has pointed out, noting Cyprus’ grid interconnection with the rest of the EU promises to help the country achieve RES objectives set for 2030.

IPTO in talks with investors, operators for Crete interconnection

Investors – funds and major operators – are believed to be expressing strong interest for a minority stake in power grid operator IPTO’s subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, the project developer of the Athens-Crete electricity grid interconnection.

Talks with parties interested in an Ariadne Interconnection stake have commenced, the power grid operator’s deputy chief Yiannis Margaris informed media during a press call for a presentation of the company’s annual financial results.

Prospective Ariadne shareholders must be financially robust, well acquainted with energy-sector matters, and focused on long-term investments, Margaris pointed out, setting terms and conditions.

The operator is focusing its search on big groups with portfolios carrying major investments, the deputy said.

IPTO’s administration is already engaged in talks with European operators such as Belgium’s Elia and French operator RTE, Margaris indicated.

IPTO expects to sign a bank loan agreement this month for an amount between 400 and 500 million euros to help finance the Athens-Crete interconnection. A sum stemming from Ariadne’s cash reserves worth 200 million euros and National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds of between 300 and 400 million euros are also expected to contribute.

The Athens-Crete link project is set to start and all the funds must be in place, IPTO officials said.

The possible involvement in Ariadne of investors will help achieve better borrowing terms, the officials added, while stressing the two procedures – search for a minority shareholder and capital – are moving ahead independently of each other.

Talks are also in progress with investors for island interconnections to facilitate RES projects, Margaris said.

IPTO, Ariadne roles for Crete link project clarified to avoid complications

Power grid operator IPTO, guided by consultants and legal experts, has prepared a concession agreement clarifying the roles of the operator and its subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnection in the development of the Athens-Crete electricity grid interconnection. This is needed to avoid future complications in Brussels.

The concession agreement makes clear Ariadne Interconnection’s involvement in the venture is limited to the development stage, noting the subsidiary firm will not maintain any operational or management interests once the project is delivered to IPTO for operation.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has warned that any managerial involvement in the project by a company such as Ariadne Interconnection, not a certified operator like its parent company, will lead to complications at the European Commission and could delay the project, to be developed as a national project, not a PCI project promising EU funds.

RAE’s concerns are made more acute by the prospect of Ariadne Interconnection’s prospective split from IPTO as part of a procedure to offer a minority stake to third parties. Ariadne Interconnection is currently a fully-owned IPTO subsidiary.

Clarification on the project roles of IPTO and Ariadne Interconnection will enable Ariadne Interconnection to seek minority shareholders.

IPTO has noted a 40 percent stake of Ariadne Interconnection will be offered to investors to help finance the project without the burden of bank loans.

State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), IPTO’s strategic partner with a 24 percent stake, has expressed an interest to acquire a 20 percent stake in Ariadne Interconnection.

Work on Crete-Athens grid link nears launch after approvals

The Court of Auditors has approved contracts offered to winning bidders for installation of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection’s four cable segments, enabling the signing of contracts for the one billion-euro project’s biggest stage, budgeted at 615 million euros, probably within the month, energypress sources have informed. Work will then be able to commence.

Prysmian, Nexans and Hellenic Cables-NKT were awarded contracts for the project’s four cable segments. Prysmian secured two of these four contracts.

On another front, the Court of Auditors is expected to approve a contract for the project’s other key stage, the design, supply and installation of two converters and a substation, in June, according to sources.

Siemens – Terna, a member of the GEK TERNA group, submitted an improved bid of 370 million euros late last month to be awarded this contract by power grid operator IPTO’s fully-owned subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, the project promoter.

The Court of Auditors’ approval of contracts for the project’s four cable segments follows a recent decision by the environment and energy ministry endorsing the 1,000-MW project’s environmental terms.

EU funding for the project through the NSRF (2014 – 2020) is expected to be approved within the next week to ten days, according to reliable sources. This would subsequently also offer IPTO access to bank financing.

Siemens-Terna awarded converter stations contract for Crete-Athens link

Power grid operator IPTO’s fully-owned subsidiary Ariadne
Interconnection has successfully completed a tender process for the Converter Stations of the Crete-Athens Interconnection, awarding the contract to Siemens – Terna, a member of the GEK TERNA group, ADMIE (IPTO) Holding has announced. 

After the submission of an improved bid on March 26, the contract price was set at 370 million euros, of which 358.6 million euros concern the construction of the converter stations. The remaining 11.4 million euros concern maintenance of these stations.

The contract calls for a 36-month implementation period and will be signed after approval by the Court of Auditors.

The project will be included in the list of the Operational Program “Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation” of the NSRF 2014 – 2020.

Τhe tendering procedure for the design, supply and installation of two Converters and a Substation for the DC Electrical Interconnection between Crete and Athens was launched on May 24, 2019.

The tender attracted the interest of world leaders in the industry and on November 1, 2019 the GE-Nari-Mytilineos and Siemens-Terna consortiums submitted binding offers.

The evaluation of the offers submitted by the consortiums, both of which possess strong technical backgrounds and specialized experience in similar projects abroad, required more than four months due to the project’s elevated technical demands. 

The technical evaluation was completed on March 13 and the Siemens-Terna consortium’s offer qualified, taking into account all relevant issues related to the interconnection.

Commenting on the tender, the IPTO group’s CEO Manos Manousakis noted: “During these challenging times, the tender process for our
flagship project, amounting to 1 billion euros, was successfully completed without problems.
IPTO will continue to focus all its efforts in order to protect the timely implementation of the project and ensure the safe and reliable power supply of Crete through the mainland system by 2023. Apart from the economic benefits of the interconnection of Crete for all Greek consumers, through the decline of Public Service Obligations (PSO), the implementation of this
project paves the way for accelerated RES integration on the island based on the principles of sustainable development.”

IPTO in talks with financial institutions for Crete link loan

Power grid operator IPTO is currently involved in talks with local and foreign financial institutions for a loan concerning Crete’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens, a project budgeted at around one billion euros.

IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis is looking for a project loan of roughly 400 million euros. Talks, so far, with financial institutions, including the EBRD, according to sources, are believed to have made good progress.

Financial institutions contacted so far appear positive on the prospect of  providing financing for the Crete-Athens interconnection but want WACC level and cost-benefit study assurances.

IPTO anticipates financing for the project from three sources, including the 400 million-euro bank loan.

The operator has already allotted 200 million euros for subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnector, the project promoter. IPTO also expects between 350 and 400 million euros to come from the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).

A new regulatory framework for the grid interconnection as a national project rather than a PCI project is a significant pending issue that also needs to be resolved.

Swift solution needed for Crete link project’s local resistance

The energy ministry is working to overcome resistance raised by regional authorities in Crete against the installation of a converter station needed for a submarine electricity grid interconnection project to link the island with Athens.

Cretan regional authorities have delivered a negative report on a plan by power grid operator IPTO, the project’s promoter, to install a converter station at Damasta in the Heraklion province.

The ministry needs to resolve the issue in order to issue an environmental permit for the interconnection project. The project’s completion target of 2023 could be threatened if this issue is not swiftly resolved.

A new round of talks involving top-ranked officials at the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and Cretan regional authorities could be held during the current week. Alternative solutions and offsetting measures that would compensate locals for any negative impact caused by the project are expected to be discussed.

IPTO appears set to sign an agreement with Prysmian, Nexans and Hellenic Cables – NKT, the winning bidders in a tender for the project’s cables. However, the pending environmental permit is needed.

Technical aspects of bids submitted to another project tender concerning two other converter stations and a substation are currently being assessed. Two consortiums, Terna – Siemens and Mytilineos – General Electric – Nari submitted bids for this tender.

Its next stage, an assessment of financial offers submitted by the aforementioned participants, will be made early in the year, Ariadne, an IPTO subsidiary formed for the Cretan interconnection project, has informed.

Additional IPTO stake seen offered within next three months

The government, gearing up for a series of energy sector privatizations, plans to hasten the sale of an additional yet unspecified stake in power grid operator IPTO. The procedure could now be launched within the next three months.

Investor interest in IPTO has risen as the operator’s asset value is projected to increase sharply over the next decade.

The Greek State currently controls a 51 percent share of IPTO, directly and indirectly. Late in 2019, State Grid Corp of China (SGCC), the buyer of a 24 percent stake in IPTO and holder of priority rights should any additional stake be offered, expressed an interest to boost its stake in the operator and also acquire a 20 percent stake in subsidiary firm Ariadne Interconnector, project promoter of the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection, a project budgeted at one billion euros.

The size of the additional IPTO stake to be placed for sale remains unclear, but, without a doubt, SGCC’s decision on whether or not to exercise its priority right will be influential.

Italy’s Terna, holding a 30 percent stake in CDP Reti, an Italian holding company, is also believed to be interested in the upcoming IPTO sale. SGCC would also be involved here as the Chinese company holds a 35 percent stake in CDP Reti. French operator RTE and a variety of funds are also considered believed to be considering the IPTO sale.

IPTO’s assets are seen rising from a present level of 1.5 billion euros to five billion euros over the next ten years as a result of the development of major grid interconnection projects to link the country’s Dodecanese and North Aegean Islands with the mainland.

Greece’s energy-sector privatizations will not be limited to gas utility DEPA’s two new entities, DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade, both underway, nor will there be a gap until the next sale, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, scheduled for September, energy ministry officials have informed. The Hellenic Petroleum ELPE sale will be deferred.

 

IPTO, ministry, RAE seeking common ground for Ariadne tender

Officials at power grid operator IPTO, the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, are seeking common ground that would pave the way

a tender to offer a minority 39 percent share in IPTO subsidiary Ariadne Interconnector, an SPV established for the development of the Athens-Crete electricity grid interconnection.

IPTO is looking to attract an investor, or investors, for a minority stake in Ariadne as financial support for the costly project.

IPTO wants to maintain a majority stake in its subsidiary as the operator is determined to control the construction of a project it will eventually operate.

State Grid Corp of China (SGCC), holding a 24 percent stake of IPTO, is expected to participate in the tender. The Chinese company has already expressed interest for a 20 percent stake in Ariadne and has signed a related memorandum with IPTO.

If SGCC’s interest is limited to a 20 percent stake, then a second equity package carrying a further 19 percent is likely to be offered to other investors.

EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-classified project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids, was expected to acquire a 39 percent in Ariadne. However, a dispute with IPTO over control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens section has distanced EuroAsia.

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis are both confident concerns raised by RAE over the tender’s procedure will be overcome and enable a launch of the competition within the first months of this year.

RAE is worried about complications that could arise and trouble the tender as a result of SGCC’s stake in IPTO. If not handled appropriately, the tender could spark protests from rival bidders claiming unfair competition, RAE fears. Also, the authority is well aware of Brussels’ sensitivity to the prospect of a wider Chinese presence in EU infrastructure.

 

Ariadne Interconnector minority stake tender early in 2020

A tender to offer one or two prospective partners minority stakes in Ariade Interconnector, the SPV established by power grid operator IPTO for the development of the Athens-Crete electricity grid interconnection, is expected to be staged within the first few months of 2020.

Both the energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis anticipate common ground will soon be found with RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to enable the tender to go ahead.

State Grid Corp of China (SGCC) appears willing to participate in the tender. The Chinese company, already holding a 24 percent stake of IPTO, has expressed interest to acquire 20 percent of Ariadne. A related memorandum guaranteeing SGCC’s involvement, has been signed between SGCC and IPTO.

If SGCC’s interest in Ariadne is limited to 20 percent, then a second package, most probably offering an additional 19 percent, will be offered to investors for a total of 39 percent.

This is the Ariadne Interconnector stake that had been planned for EuroAsia, a consortium of Cypriot interests that has opposed IPTO’s decision to appoint Ariadne, a subsidiary firm, as project promoter of the Athens-Crete electricity grid interconnection.

Euroasia, heading a consortium formed for a wider PCI-status interconnection project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids, has sought control of the Crete-Athens segment’s development.

If SGCC expresses an interest for an Ariadne stake bigger than 20 percent, then just one package offering 39 percent will be offered through a tender.

IPTO is determined to keep a majority stake in its subsidiary Ariadne as the operator wants to maintain control over the construction stage of the Athens-Crete link, to be managed by the operator once launched.

Investors, especially from abroad, are expected to show strong interest in Ariadne.

The IPTO administration is also looking to offer minority stakes to investors in other projects it is developing. This would secure further financing support and swifter completion.

Italian energy firms eyeing array of local investments, PM in Italy

Italian investors are displaying widespread interest for energy investments in the Greek market, including possible stakes in distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, power grid operator IPTO, gas utility DEPA’s two new entities DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure, as well as joint ventures in wind energy stations, electric vehicle projects and smart grids.

Deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas, joining Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on an official visit to Rome today, is expected to be informed of this Italian investment interest. Thomas is scheduled to meet with Italian economic development minister Stefano Patuanelli.

The Greek Prime Minister, to meet with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte, can also expect to hear of this Italian investment interest during talks which, besides the refugee crisis, will also address cross-border energy projects such as TAP and East Med.

Snam maintains the most emblematic of Italian investments in the Greek market at present with a 66 percent stake in gas grid operator DESFA, including control of the country’s natural gas transmission and storage infrastructure.

Italian firms are regarded as pioneers in a number of green-energy domains, including smart grids, electric vehicle recharging station installations along highways, even wave power projects.

Just days ago, a consortium comprising Eni, Fincantieri and Terna announced it would commercially develop its pilot project Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter (ISWEC) for wave energy generation, initially at small Italian islands, followed by projects abroad.

The Greek Prime Minister and his energy deputy will also meet with Italian entrepreneurs, including Eni gas e luce chief executive Alberto Chiarini.

Italy’s Terna, one of Europe’s biggest transmission system operators, is believed to be interested in acquiring a stake of IPTO and its Ariadne subsidiary, project promoter of the submarine Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

Enel is considering moves into networks, renewable energy investments and the electric vehicles sector.

Italgas, Italy’s biggest gas distributor and the continent’s third biggest, appears interested in DEPA Infrastructure. Italgas is believed to have reached a preliminary agreement to acquire fellow Italian company Eni gas e luce’s 49 percent stake and management rights in EDA Thess, covering the Thessaloniki and Thessaly areas.

Eni, increasing its involvement in pioneering projects, including wave energy, is believed to be looking to increase its Greek market presence, possibly through acquisitions.

 

 

SGCC interest in extra IPTO stake, 20% of Crete grid link SPV now official

State Grid Corp of China (SGCC) chairman Wei Kou has officially expressed an interest by the company to boost its 24 percent share of Greek power grid operator IPTO at a meeting with energy minister Costis Hatzidakis, ministry sources have informed.

The SGCC proposal will now be examined by the government, planning to offer a further stake of IPTO to investors.

SGCC holds preferential rights for the sale of any additional IPTO stake, according to a  shareholders’ agreement signed in 2017 for the Chinese company’s acquisition of a 24 percent stake.

The SGCC head official also confirmed his company’s interest to acquire a 20 percent stake in Ariadne, an IPTO subsidiary established as a special purpose vehicle for the development of the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection.

Chinese officials to table widespread energy investment interest

Chinese investors are looking to, more or less, cover the Greek energy sector’s entire gamut.

Talks during a two-day visit, today and tomorrow, by a Chinese delegation headed by China’s President President Xi Jinping, are expected to cover energy cooperation in the installation of smart power meters and fiber optics to networks, investments in natural gas-fueled power stations, energy storage, as well as joint ventures for solar, wind and biomass energy projects.

This widespread Chinese investment interest, more or less covering the sector’s entire gamut, also includes financial support as well as the sale of all types of technology needed.

The interest of Chinese investors was made clear to power utility PPC chief executive Giorgos Stassis on a trip to China a week ago.

Talks between officials will include interest by State Grid Corp of China (SGCC) to build on its 24 percent stake of Greek power grid operator IPTO and enter the equity make-up of the operator’s subsidiary Ariadne, project promoter of the Crete-Athens electricity grid link.

Joint investments with PPC and other players in the renewable energy domain will also be explored.

HEDNO/DEDDIE’s plan for the installation of smart power meters is another topic of interest for the visiting Chinese investors.

The next chapter of preceding talks with PPC officials for the development of gas-fired power stations is also expected.

Fuel shift alternatives of the power utility PPC’s prospective Ptolemaida V power station, originally planned as a coal generator, will also be tabled.

Just days ago, PPC officials, led by Stassis, the CEO, held a range of meetings at the Shanghai International Import Expo 2019 with China Development Bank, Shanghai Electric and China Three Gorges, holding a stake in Portugal’s EDP Renovaveis.

China Intellectual Electric Power (solar), ZTE (telecommunications) and CHINT (smart power meters) are among other companies also believed to be seeking to secure investments in the Greek market, sources informed.

Ariadne third-party investors a problem for Crete grid link

Crete’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens, now entering its next phase following a government decision to not develop the link as a national project, meaning the project will not be included on the EU’s new PCI list, faces subsequent administrative and financing complexities.

Ariadne, as a fully-owned subsidiary of power grid operator IPTO, is entitled to develop this national electricity transmission project, but appears to lose the right should third parties enter its equity make-up as partners.

IPTO wants investors to take on a minority stake of up to 49 percent in Ariadne as a means of avoiding bank loans for the project’s development.

If third parties enter Ariadne’s make-up as shareholders, then the subsidiary will need to be re-certified as operator based on its new line-up. A second alternative would require RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to stage the competitive procedure to bring new investors into Ariadne.

Both options would be time-consuming, which is a major concern given the urgency of this project, needed to prevent looming energy shortages on Crete.

The energy ministry, fully informed on the complexities to be created by third-party entries into Ariadne’s line-up, is expected to soon seek further clarification on the matter from the European Commission.

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.

Crete-Athens link tender set for further deadline extension

A tender concerning the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project’s engineering, procurement and construction of two converter stations and a GIS substation will be given a further deadline extension, possibly an entire month, as a result of requests made by major prospective bidders.

An initial August 30 deadline was reset for September 30 and may now be extended to October 30.

Project promoter Ariadne, a subsidiary of Greek power grid operator IPTO, has made clear to the tender’s participants the latest deadline extension will be the last as any further delays would place at risk the project’s completion on time. This would have repercussions as the project is vital for Crete’s energy sufficiency.

The latest extension is not linked to a legal challenge made by EuroAsia, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-status project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids, sources noted. Nor is it any way linked to a pending Greek government response to the European Commission on whether the Crete-Athens interconnection will be supported by Greece as part of the wider PCI project or as a national project, the sources added.

Some of the companies interested in the Crete-Athens link tender have confirmed requesting a new deadline extension.

This tender was preceded by an initial tender concerning the project’s cable segments. Appraisals of the technical aspects of offers will be completed by the end of this month, according to IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis, while assessments of the financial offers will follow.

Supreme Court rejects Euroasia case for Crete link control

The Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, appears to have rejected a case filed by Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, challenging the appointment of Greek power grid operator IPTO subsidiary Ariadne as project promoter of a grid interconnection to link Crete with Athens, energypress sources have informed.

Euroasia, heading a consortium formed for a wider PCI-status interconnection project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids, is seeking control of the Crete-Athens segment’s development.

Legal experts believe Euroasia’s challenge will not succeed.

The Cypriot consortium’s Supreme Court move, which opposed the Ariadne subsidiary’s appointment by RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, followed an unsuccessful legal attempt at the Authority for the Examination of Preliminary Appeals (AEPP).

The Supreme Court’s verdict is crucial as it will determine if ongoing tenders for the development of the Crete-Athens interconnection can continue or not.

Procedures concerning a tender for the project’s transmission stations are progressing and attracting the interest of major developers and suppliers. This tender’s deadline was extended by one month.

The energy ministry, in contact with the European Commission over the matter, has not written off the prospect of a settlement with Euroasia but insists the project’s swift development is the key criterion behind decisions.

Supplying the required capital for a minority stake in Ariadne appears to be the only available option for Euroasia at this stage. However, the Cypriot consortium does not appear willing to take such a route.

Time is running out. Greece has until October 31 to inform a European Commission committee handling the EU’s PCI list if the country will support the Crete-Athens interconnection as part of the wider PCI project or proceed with its development as a national project.

Supreme court to hear Euroasia Crete-Athens case Thursday

The Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, is scheduled to hear a case filed by Euroasia Interconnector – a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a PCI-status grid interconnection project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems – against Greek power grid operator IPTO on September 5.

Euroasia, embroiled in a dispute with IPTO for control of the Greek segment’s development, planned to link Crete with Athens, recently escalated its legal effort following a rejection by AEPP, the Authority for the Examination of Preliminary Appeals.

Commenting on the upcoming hearing, legal sources said they do not expect a favorable verdict for the Euroasia consortium.

Though the deadline of a project tender held by Ariadne Interconnector, an IPTO subsidiary, was given a one-month extension to September 30, procedures are progressing normally, while all major players appear interested, sources told energypress.

IPTO has increased the budget of the Crete-Athens interconnection to 380 million euros from an initial figure of 315 million euros. This 20 percent increase reflects the development cost, taking into account related projects in other parts of Europe as well as a high risk of delay-related costs.

The Crete-Athens interconnection needs to be completed in a 36-month period, far shorter than time periods of between 48 and 72 months offered for equivalent projects, internationally.

The Greek energy ministry has indicated a willingness to cooperate with the Cypriot consortium, making clear the project’s swift development is a pivotal factor behind decisions.

Greece has until October 31 to inform a European Commission committee if the country intends to support the Athens-Crete interconnection as a part of the wider PCI project or as a national project.

Euroasia takes Crete grid link case to supreme court

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a PCI-status grid interconnection to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems, has escalated its legal action against Greek power grid operator IPTO amid their dispute for control of the Greek segment’s development, planned to link Crete with Athens.

Euroasia has stepped up its legal action by filing a case to the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, following a rejection by AEPP, the Authority for the Examination of Preliminary Appeals, reliable sources have informed energypress.

The Cypriot consortium is seeking to have an AEPP verdict overturned, which would disrupt related project tenders currently being held by Ariadne Interconnector, an IPTO subsidiary.

The case is scheduled to be heard on September 5, the sources noted, adding Greek authorities are in the process of making their legal preparations.

The recently appointed Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has already made clear his intentions to not alter the project’s ongoing procedures, while also indicating a willingness for greater cooperation with the Cypriot side.

 

 

Crete link tender deadline for cables expires today

The deadline of a tender for the engineering, procurement and installation of underwater cable systems (2 x 500 MW) concerning the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection expires today following two extensions.

An initial July 22 deadline was extended to July 29 before being stretched further to August 5. These successive deadline extensions sparked rumors of possible revisions concerning the 330-km long project.

Power grid operator IPTO, whose subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection is staging the tender, has ruled out the possibility of any further extension.

IPTO is determined to make clear that the tender is pressing ahead despite efforts by Cypriot consortium Euroasia Interconnector aiming to block the procedure.

Euroasia Interconnector, heading a wider PCI-status project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids, is at odds with IPTO for control of the Crete-Athens segment’s development.

Euroasia Interconnector took fresh legal action last week against IPTO and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, which, if successful, could prompt further tender delays.

The Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection is urgently needed to prevent a looming energy shortage on the island, Greece’s largest. Outdated diesel-fueled power stations operating on the island need to be withdrawn to meet EU environmental regulations.

The Cretan grid interconnection project is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

Italy’s Prysmian and France’s Nexans, both leading companies in the field, have shown interest in the tender.

 

Euroasia escalates Crete grid link legal action, IPTO unperturbed

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a PCI-status grid interconnection to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems, has escalated its legal action against Greek power grid operator IPTO by submitting a suspension request intended to stop the latter’s development of the project’s Greek segment, to connect Crete with Athens.

The two sides have been at odds for control of the Greek segment’s development. The Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection is urgently needed to prevent an energy shortage on Crete, Greece’s largest island.

The action comes following a meeting this week between Euroasia Interconnector officials and Greece’s newly appointed energy minister Costis Hatzidakis. The Cypriot officials obviously came out of the session  dissatisfied.

Euroasia Interconnector is seeking to overturn decisions by Greek authorities that have established Ariadne Interconnector, an IPTO subsidiary, as the Crete-Athens grid interconnection’s project promoter.

The latest legal action threatens to block tenders concerning the local segment’s development.

IPTO’s legal representatives are confident the latest action will prove futile and not lead to any further delays of the the project’s two tenders, both currently in progress.

Participants of a tender for the engineering, procurement and installation of cables and stations concerning the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection face an August 5 deadline, following two extensions. A second tender for the engineering, procurement and installation of two transformer stations and a substation concerning the project has been extended to August 30.

 

 

Crete grid link tender deadline extended by a few days

The deadline of a tender for the engineering, procurement and installation of cables and stations concerning the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection, needed to prevent an energy shortage on the island, Greece’s largest, has been re-extended to August 5 from July 29, after the initial expiry date had been set for July 22.

Power grid operator IPTO, which has established the Ariadne Interconnector subsidiary for the project’s development, needed, according to the tender’s terms, to inform participants of the latest deadline no later than three days before the existing deadline. IPTO issued an announcement on the deadline extension yesterday.

A second tender for the engineering, procurement and installation of two transformer stations and a substation concerning the project has been extended to August 30.

Earlier this week, the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, rejected a case filed by Euroasia Interconnector against the tenders, paving the way for IPTO to push ahead with the project, to be completed over two stages. The first will link Crete with the Peloponnese while the second will connect Crete with the Athens area.

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-status project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids, has fought for development control of the Crete-Athens segment.

According to some sources, the Greek government may exhaust all possibilities for the project’s funding support through the EU’s PCI catalog, offering favorable terms. The interconnection’s development as a national project is another option.

A government decision on the course it will opt to take is expected over the next few days. The priority, at this stage, is to push ahead for the project’s swift completion.

 

Crete grid link project tenders headed for new extension

Bidding deadlines for two tenders concerning the respective procurement of cables and transformers for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection, a project that is urgently needed to prevent a looming energy shortage on Crete, are headed for an extension.

Ariadne Interconnector, an SPV subsidiary established by power grid operator IPTO for the project’s development, will need to extend its bidding deadlines for the two tenders as AEPP, the Authority for the Examination of Preliminary Appeals, looking into action taken by Eurosia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli grid interconnection, has deferred its hearing for July 22 from July 15.

Euroasia Interconnector has been at odds with IPTO for development control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment.

The deadlines for the tenders now coincide with AEPP’s new date for the hearing. The deadline for the tender concerning the procurement of cables was previously set for July 8 before being extended to July 22. The tender for transformers was originally set for July 22.

Both tenders cannot proceed until AEPP has reached a decision on the dispute between IPTO and Eurosia Interconnector.

IPTO and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, have already submitted their cases for the AEPP hearing.

According to pundits, Eurosia Interconnector’s chances of a decision in its favor are minimal, at best.

The Cypriot consortium’s decision to take its case to AEPP has been interpreted as a time-buying initiative taken with the hope of gaining the support of the newly elected Greek government.

While in opposition, the New Democracy party, which won last Sunday’s Greek elections, had not made clear whether it supported moves by IPTO, RAE and the ex-energy minister Giorgos Stathakis that ended up giving the Ariadne Interconnector subsidiary control of the Crete-Athens segment.

 

Elections, EuroAsia case to delay Crete link tender approval

Greece’s upcoming elections on July 7 and legal action pursued by EuroAsia Interconnector stand in the way of a decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to approve the terms of a competition offering investors a minority stake of up to 39 percent in Ariadne Interconnection, a subsidiary established by power grid operator IPTO for the development of a grid interconnection project to link Crete with Athens.

The RAE decision was expected any day now, but these two factors will delay the announcement for a latter date, sources at IPTO have informed.

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid connection, has reacted as IPTO has taken control of the project’s Crete-Athens segment.

The consortium has submitted a case to Greece’s Authority for the Examination of Preliminary Appeals (AEPP) challenging tenders for the Crete-Athens link’s tenders concerning the project’s development (cables and transformers, budgeted at 600 million and 315 million euros, respectively).

AEPP has set a July 15 date to hear the Cypriot consortium’s case. EuroAsia Interconnector’s bid is not expected to succeed, legal officials explained, as this authority’s jurisdiction deals with companies protesting  tender terms that could exclude them from participating. Even so, the case needs to be heard and will contribute to the delay in RAE’s approval.

The Athens-Crete grid interconnection is urgently needed as electricity demand on the island is increasing while high-polluting units operating on Crete will soon need to be withdrawn as part of the EU’s environmental policy.

IPTO has committed itself to delivering the Athens-Crete link by the end of 2022.

 

EuroAsia avoids challenge against Crete link tender terms

Euroasia Interconnector, heading a PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid connection but at odds with Greek power grid operator IPTO for control, as provider, of the project’s Crete-Athens segment, has chosen not to take preliminary legal action challenging the terms of a related project tender, energypress sources have informed.

A deadline set by IPTO subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection for any legal challenges expired yesterday. Action by Ariadne Interconnection, a consortium of Cypriot interests, had been anticipated by a number of officials.

On May 24, when the Ariadne Interconnection tender’s terms were announced, IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis underlined that all interested parties, domestic and foreign, need to contribute, implying project delays would be prompted if either EuroAsia or the European Commission took legal action.

The Crete-Athens interconnection, budgeted at 915 million euros, is scheduled for completion within 2022.

EuroAsia’s restraint may reflect a new strategy by the Cypriot consortium entailing an effort to secure Greek government support required for the induction of the rest of the project (Crete-Cyprus-Israel) into the EU’s next PCI list, which ensures EU funding support.