Crete-Peloponnese subsea cable installation to start soon

Power grid operator IPTO plans to begin installing a 135-km subsea cable for the Peloponnese-Crete grid interconnection, part of a larger project to ultimately extend this line to Athens, within the next few weeks. The installation’s exact starting date will depend on the weather conditions.

Also, a subsea cable interconnecting the islands Naxos and Syros, the final step in the third phase of the Cyclades grid interconnection, is expected to be electrified next month, according to the operator.

The Peloponnese-Crete project, in particular, is pivotal in the effort to reduce public service compensation (YKO) surcharges for consumers. The interconnections will also help utilize the renewable energy potential of islands.

The Peloponnese-Crete subsea cable installation, made challenging by deep waters reaching 1,000 meters, will require about two months to complete, IPTO sources noted. It will be the world’s longest subsea cable grid interconnection.

Installation work for a second subsea cable (107 km, 150 kV) between Syros and seaside Lavrio, on the southeastern tip of the wider Athens area, was completed last month in preparation for the electrification of the Naxos-Syros line, expected early October. High-voltage testing, over a 24-hour period, will precede the line’s electrification.

Ministry OKs environmental study for blocks south of Crete

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has approved a strategic environmental impact study concerning an offshore area south of Crete in preparation for tenders to offer exploration and production licenses for two blocks covering most of the island’s width.

Giannis Basias, the former head official at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, went ahead with the strategic environmental impact study last August to clear the way for government authorities to stage tenders for licenses and also spare  winning bidders of needing to wait for pending issues to be resolved before they can begin their exploration efforts.

In addition, it is believed EDEY took swift action for the environmental impact study covering the offshore area south of Crete in response to interest expressed by oil majors.

The two offshore blocks south of Crete measure a total of 33,933 square kilometers and cover all four prefectures spread across the island.

These vacant blocks are situated next to two blocks southwest and west of Crete that have already been licensed out to a three-member consortium headed by Total with ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum as partners.

The eastern flank of these two blocks is intruded by a corridor defined in a recent Turkish-Libyan maritime deal.

The Greek energy ministry’s approval of the strategic environmental impact study for south of Crete is not linked to Turkey’s heightened provocations in the Aegean Sea, ministry officials told energypress.

The environmental study’s approval means this offshore area is now set for tenders and also sends out a signal of readiness to the international upstream industry, the ministry officials explained.

Just days ago, the newly appointed EDEY administration and the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou met with officials of Total, operator of the consortium holding the two licenses southwest and west of Crete. Seismic surveys for these blocks will be completed by March next year, the Total officials appear to have promised.

PPC using extra 58-MW unit on Crete for safety despite weak tourism data

Power utility PPC plans, next week, to begin operating 58-MW capacity generators leased and to be installed at a company power station even though electricity demand on the island is expected to be far lower than usual this summer.

The island will still need this generation boost to meet local energy requirements despite the pandemic’s anticipated negative impact on tourism, authorities have estimated.

Crete’s energy sufficiency situation will not be resolved until the island’s grid interconnection with Athens is completed.

The generators, to be installed at PPC’s power station at Atherinolakkos, southeastern Crete, are scheduled to begin operating on July 1.

PPC has received a production permit for the generators between July 1 and August 31. Depending on the conditions, this license could be stretched to also cover September.

Under normal circumstances, electricity demand on Crete typically reaches 700 MW during the summer as a result of major tourism development on the island. Power outages, both short and long-lasting, are a common summer occurrence on Crete.

 

RES auction for Crete wind, solar installations at end of year

A RES auction to offer respective 100-MW capacities for new wind and solar energy installations on Crete is still quite a long way off and will, at best, be staged towards the end of this year or early in 2021, energypress sources have informed.

Crete’s network for wind and solar energy facilities is currently saturated, according to technical standards provided in an older decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

However, studies conducted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and power grid operator IPTO both support that RES station output of between 180 and 200 MW can be safely absorbed by the Cretan network once the island’s grid is interconnected with that of the Peloponnese.

The island’s overall capacity boost is expected to reach between 2,000 and 2,500 MW once the major-scale grid interconnection, linking Crete with Athens, is completed.

A RAE proposal forwarded to the energy ministry has called for wind and solar energy auctions offering respective installation capacities of 100 MW, the aim being to cover investment demand and also boost power capacity on the island, still using diesel and pressed hard to resolve energy-sufficiency issues in the summers.

Oil drilling plans on hold, forced by price collapse, pandemic

Preliminary hydrocarbon exploration work planned by oil companies at licenses in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete is being postponed for an indefinite period that could last as much as a year, possibly more.

Upstream players are revising plans as a result of the collapse in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, a double setback for the sector.

Worse still, investment conditions for the Ionian Sea and Crete areas are made even more challenging by the fact that neither has yet to reveal sustainable fields.

In addition, both Greek zones are deep-sea areas of depths ranging from 2,500 to 3,000 meters, making exploration a high-cost venture.

Global oil majors are reducing investments and expenses by the billions in response to the unfavorable market conditions that have emerged over the past couple of months.

Fields with proven reserves have not been spared, which pushes untested fields such as those in Greece even further down the priority list.

The resumption of drilling ventures still at preliminary stages is not likely until oil prices rebound, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis noted in an interview with Greek daily To Ethnos.

It is a similar picture for Cyprus. The Eni-Total consortium yesterday announced it is postponing oil drilling activities in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone until March or April next year.

DESFA 10-year plan approved, virtual pipelines not included

Gas grid operator DESFA’s ten-year development plan has been approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, following a lengthy procedure, including consultation, that lasted several months.

A virtual pipeline proposal envisioning LNG supply to Crete, the north Aegean islands and the Dodecanese via tankers from the operator’s Revythoussa terminal just off Athens was left out of the approved plan. This is the ten-year plan’s only notable change compared to the draft forwarded for consultation.

LNG virtual pipelines serve as a substitute for conventional gas pipelines to enable the transport of LNG to points of use by sea, road or a combination of these.

The virtual pipeline proposal was removed from the DESFA ten-year plan following concerns expressed by consultation participants over higher surcharge costs for consumers that could have been imposed as part of the project’s cost recovery procedure.

The gas grid operator’s ten-year plan includes, for the first time, a natural gas outlet along the TAP route for the west Macedonia region in Greece’s north.

This TAP outlet, a project budgeted at 3 million euros and expected to be launched late in 2022, is intended to supply natural gas to the area’s provincial cities of Kozani, Ptolemaida, Florina and Amynteo for use at telethermal facilities as well as other energy needs in the post-lignite era.

The area’s telethermal system currently relies on energy produced by power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, soon set for withdrawal as part of the country’s decarbonization effort.

 

Officials forced to reexamine Crete’s energy sufficiency plan for summer

Power utility PPC and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, are currently reexamining data concerning Crete’s energy demands for this coming summer as the coronavirus pandemic is expected to severely impact tourism activity.

In response to the closure of old, high-polluting power stations on Crete, energy authorities have been planning a number of energy units to meet higher tourism-related electricity demand in the summer.

However, a revision to the plan will now probably be needed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s negative impact forecast for the tourism sector.

Prior to the pandemic’s outbreak, RAE, basing its calculations on data provided by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, had concluded Cretan electricity generation needed to be bolstered by a level of between 80 and 85 MW.

PPC has already completed a tender for a 58-MW facility. RAE has also requested PPC to stage a second tender for a further 25 MW. But revisions may now be necessary.

The additional units on Crete are intended to help cover the island’s energy needs until a grid interconnection with the mainland, all the way to Athens, is completed. The grid interconnection project’s completion is scheduled for 2023.

RAE renews call for ministry’s help on Crete sufficiency plan

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has reiterated a request for energy ministry support needed for the execution of a plan that is expected to resolve energy sufficiency concerns on Crete until the island’s major-scale interconnection with Athens is completed.

The authority, which has resent a package of Crete-sufficiency proposals to the energy ministry, is essentially seeking permission from the ministry to recruit consultants so that it can proceed with necessary tenders.

The RAE plan, comprised of four basic actions, is based on a related study conducted by the National Technical University of Athens. Besides ensuring energy sufficiency for the island, the proposals also meet environmental standards.

The conversion of a diesel-fueled power station into a 100-MW natural gas-fueled facility is one of the four RAE proposals.

Another entails the installation of a new 100-MW power station, preferably natural gas-fueled.

A third action involves a RES capacity addition of roughly 200 MW, evenly split between wind and solar facilities.

RAE’s fourth proposal concerns the installation – and introduction to the Greek grid – of energy storage systems, or high-tech batteries, representing a capacity of between 30 and 40 MW.

The first and second proposals depend on LNG supply to Crete. Subsequently, a tender will need to be staged for the installation of an FSRU as well as a 100-MW power station.

The additional RES capacity will also require tenders. In addition, RAE proposes a tender for the energy storage systems it envisions for the island.

These batteries could also be used on other Greek islands in the future if they are eventually no longer needed on Crete.

 

RES auction to offer 200 MW for Cretan wind, solar energy projects

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is preparing to stage a RES auction for new renewable energy facility installations on Crete in anticipation of the island’s grid capacity increase to result from new interconnections with the mainland.

The authority intends to offer 100 MW for wind energy facilities and a further 100 MW for solar energy projects, all at a starting price of 30 euros per MWh.

Crete is rated as an area of very high RES potential, especially for wind and solar projects. These favorable conditions support further renewable energy development at the lowest possible cost and minimum burden on consumers.

Crete’s energy security has developed into a major issue and national priority as a result of the implementation of strict EU carbon emission limits requiring the withdrawal of high-polluting units as of the end of 2020.

 

RAE close to energy plan for Crete in busy summer months

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is close to finalizing a plan designed to ensure energy sufficiency on Crete during the busy summer months through an overall capacity boost of approximately 90 MW.

The authority is expected to secure 60 MW of this required additional capacity through a leasing arrangement of power generators at the island’s Atherinolakkos location. This has represented a standard solution in recent years.

It is still unclear how the remaining amount of between 25 and 30 MW will be generated to ensure energy sufficiency throughout the summer for the entire island.

Authorities had previously decided to have a power utility PPC wind turbine relocated from Rhodes to Xylokamara in the Hania prefecture. However, PPC and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO eventually asked for this turbine system to remain on Rhodes this summer, despite the addition of a new unit on the island.

A leased wind turbine for installation at the Hania prefecture is a solution now being seriously considered. This option’s cost is estimated between five and six million euros, roughly the amount it would cost to have the Rhodes turbine transported to Crete and then back to Rhodes. This option’s electricity generation cost is high.

RAE is also considering shipping in a vessel with three or four units on board.

Crete offshore surveys by Total-led team late this year, early ’21

Intensified, follow-up seismic surveys by a Total-led consortium at two offshore licenses south and west of Crete will go ahead as scheduled late this year or early in 2021, sources have informed.

The exact commencement date will be determined by the availability of specialized research vessels and weather conditions. For now, preparations are progressing as planned.

France’s Total heads a three-member consortium for the two blocks off Crete, partnered by US giant ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE).

Low shipping traffic in the region will enable hydrocarbon exploration work as late as the spring season of 2021 if next winter’s weather conditions prove unsuitable.

Initial survey work at the Cretan blocks have produced encouraging results, especially at an offshore area given the name Talos, which has displayed similar geological traits to Egypt’s offshore Zohr gas field.

The results of preliminary research conducted by ELPE in 2015 convinced Total and ExxonMobil to form a partnership with the Greek player.

 

DESFA’s Cretan FSRU proposal troubles RAE, considering tender

The board at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, needs to determine whether a proposal by gas grid operator DESFA for a floating storage and regasification unit at Atherinolakkos, Crete, is fit to be added to its national gas grid development plan for 2020 to 2029.

The investment plan, budgeted at 175 million euros, has been widely criticized by companies and market authorities through a public consultation procedure as DESFA wants national grid users to cover its cost. This demand has also troubled RAE, heading towards staging a tender.

According to sources, the authority will most likely ask DESFA to not include the FSRU project in its development plan this year and call for specific prerequisites that would give the investment social dimension.

RAE officials have reiterated the need for the development of the authority’s proposals to help cover Crete’s energy needs until a major interconnection project, to link the island with Athens, is completed. This intermediate period may exceed three years, it is believed. An FSRU will need to contribute to the overall effort.

RAE has asked the energy ministry to make legislative revisions needed ahead of tenders concerning the development of projects for energy sufficiency on Crete.

One of these entails a conversion of power utility PPC facilities totaling 100 MW from diesel-fueled to gas-fueled units. Another project concerns the construction of a new 100-MW gas-fueled power station, plus an FSRU. RAE also wants new wind and solar energy units installed for a total capacity of 100 to 150 MW, as well as energy storage batteries with a capacity of between 40 to 50 MW.

DESFA, responding to the criticism, explained that it does not intend to construct a gas-fueled power station, noting such a task is beyond its realm.

Also, its FSRU proposal for Crete purely represents a solution to secure energy sufficiency on the island, DESFA officials told energypress. The project already carries social dimension as it aims to supply gas to a non-interconnected area, they added.

Athens wants greater French hydrocarbon engagement

The government wants France’s Total to play a more active role in Greek offshore hydrocarbon exploration, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made clear during a meeting in Paris yesterday with the French group’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanné.

The potential of Greece’s hydrocarbon market, including offshore licenses south and southwest of Crete held by a Total-led consortium – it also features Exxon Mobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) – was the main focus of yesterday’s meeting.

Processing of seismic data collected from the Cretan offshore blocks has provided strong evidence of a deposit sharing similar attributes to Egypt’s Zohr gas field. However, this needs to be proved in practice. French officials have remained cautiously optimistic as they await initial drilling operations for a clearer picture.

Total’s plans for exploration within the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone, specifically at Block 8, for which Total shares a license with Italy’s Eni, were also discussed yesterday.

Turkish drillship Yavuz has sought to engage in illegal exploration activities in this area. French officials do not intend to intercept any Turkish moves at this stage but are expected to do so if the exploratory rights of Total and Eni are disputed once the companies decide to start exploring the area.

 

Copelouzos, Terna, PPC in Crete wind energy talks

Power utility PPC is engaged in talks with the Copelouzos and Terna Energy groups for the establishment of a joint venture to operate Cretan wind energy parks with a total capacity of approximately 1,000 MW.

The trio also intends to secure capacity in the Crete-Athens grid interconnection once this project, being developed by power grid operator IPTO, has been completed.

Details being discussed include the prospective stakes each of the three companies in the common venture. An even split of 33 percent each is one of the options being considered.

Two major Cretan wind energy projects being developed by Terna Energy and the Copelouzos group’s Elika were merged in 2017 to simplify their respective financing procedures through the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), commonly known as the Juncker Package.

These wind energy parks, promising an overall capacity of approximately 950 MW, will be developed in four prefectures.

PPC’s involvement, if an agreement with Copelouzos and Terna Energy is reached, could offer the power utility a 330-MW capacity.

Besides the current talks with Copelouzos and Terna Energy, PPC has received over ten partnership offers by Greek and foreign firms over the past few months.

The power utility recently signed three Memorandums of Understanding for strategic partnerships in the renewable energy sector, including one with Masdar Taaleri Generation (MTG) concerning a 300-MW capacity.

DESFA seeking FSRU, LNG tankers for Crete energy solution

Greek gas grid operator DESFA is looking to further establish its FSRU proposal for LNG supply to Crete, an initiative included in its ten-year development plan.

DESFA, nowadays controlled by a three-member consortium consisting of Snam, Enagas and Fluxys, has begun exploring FSRU solutions and their cost for Crete, where gas supply would be used for electricity generation to help make up for the  closure of high-polluting diesel units totaling 100 MW.

DESFA has set a January 20 deadline for the submission of FSRU rent or purchase offers by interested parties.

The gas grid operator requires a facility with a 125,000 cubic-meter capacity that can anchor close to the Atherinolakkos power station in southeast Crete.

The overall project will also require an LNG tanker for transportation purposes – minimum capacity of 20,000 cubic meters. This tanker will also be used as a storage facility.

In addition, the DESFA plan includes a 10,000 cubic-meter LNG carrier to execute approximately 75 shipments per year.

As has been previously reported, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has asked DESFA to further process its proposal for the installation of an LNG terminal off Crete to counter energy shortage issues until 2023, when submarine grid interconnections with the mainland are expected to be completed.

In addition, RAE plans to install a new 100-MW natural gas-fueled unit on the island as well as new RES units, for solar and wind energy, with a total capacity between 100 and 150 MW.

The installation of batteries for energy storage totaling 40 to 50 MW also features in the Crete plan.

 

Motor Oil’s Crete LPG unit decision in January, deputy tells

Motor Oil is conducting a feasibility study for the development of a 120-MW LPG-fueled combined cycle power power plant on Crete, an investment with a budget estimate of 100 million euros, deputy managing director Petros Tzannetakis (photo) has informed analysts during a conference call.

A finalized investment decision on the Crete project will be made early in 2020, the deputy chief added.

The energy group is continuing its gradual penetration of the renewable energy market and considering various small-scale projects, the company focus, Tzannetakis noted.

Motor Oil recently acquired Stefaner Energy, holding three wind energy station licenses with a total capacity of 9.4 MW. The energy group is considering projects that would capitalize on the right opportunities, Tzannetakis said, responding to questions on Motor Oil’s renewable energy plans.

Motor Oil is now preparing to proceed with a 310 million-euro investment for an upgrade of its Corinth refinery for production of higher-octane gasoline, the deputy informed, adding this project is expected to begin in January.

Tzannetakis, during the teleconference, supported Motor Oil’s refining facilities are ready to meet tougher standards set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for marine fuels with lower sulfur content.

 

ENI’s FSRU proposal latest Crete energy sufficiency idea

Italian energy giant ENI has come up with the latest proposal for a role in resolving Crete’s energy shortage threat, ascertaining it is ready to provide an FSRU unit for LNG storage and gasification that could be moored off the island.

High-polluting diesel generators operating on Crete, Greece’s biggest island, must cease operating by the end of this year, according to European Commission requirements.

The ENI proposal could cover the energy supply needs of power utility PPC diesel-fueled generators planned for conversion to natural gas, as well as a 100-MW gas-fired facility.

Prior to this interest from ENI, energy firms forwarded a series of proposals, all different, to counter the Cretan matter.

GEK Terna was the first to emerge with a recommendation entailing the transfer to Crete of Heron I, a power plant in the Viotia prefecture, northwest of Athens, offering a 150-MW capacity. Qatar’s Powerglobe followed with its Power4Crete proposal, an FSRU for electricity generation. Greek power utility PPC proposed an upgrade of its facilities on the island.

Also, Greek gas grid operator DESFA has included the establishment of a gas terminal at Atherinolakkos, southeastern Crete, into its development program.

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.

Gas deposits south of Crete may reach 280 bcm, early data suggests

Offshore block licenses south of Crete held by a consortium comprising Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) could contain natural gas deposits measuring 280 billion cubic meters (10 trillion cubic feet), regional seismic data indicates.

If this amount is confirmed, the deposit south of Crete will be equivalent, in terms of quantity, to that of Israel’s Tamar field or double the Aphrodite field within Cyprus’ EEZ.

The area south of Crete shares similar geological traits to Egypt’s Zohr field, a major regional discovery along with Cyprus’ Aphrodite and Israel’s Leviathan, the data gas shown.

PGS has reprocessed seismic data that was collected through surveys conducted south of Crete as well as in the Ionian Sea, on Greece’s west side, between 2012 and 2013.

Drilling operations still need to be conducted and additional seismic data gathered before any definite conclusions are reached. The overall procedure will require about eight years to complete.

One of three Crete link bidding teams wants time or will exit

ABB, the world’s biggest developer of power grid interconnection projects, has requested a further deadline extension greater than the one-month periods of additional time already granted twice for a tender concerning the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project’s engineering, procurement and construction of two converter stations and a GIS substation, energypress sources have informed. The tender’s current deadline is set to expire on October 31.

Both the Greek government and power grid operator IPTO appear determined not to accept any further deadline extension requests as this, they believe, would increase the risk of a project delay and, consequently, energy sufficiency issues on Crete.

Outdated, high-polluting power stations still operating on Crete soon need to be withdrawn.

ABB, which has joined forces with Greek maritime infrastructure construction and maintenance group Archirodon for the Cretan project’s tender, has cited the complexity of the project for the additional time the company appears to need. If a sizable extension is not granted, then ABB and project partner Archirodon will most likely withdraw from the tender, it is believed.

On the contrary, two other partnerships established for the tender, according to reliable sources, are preparing to submit their offers. Siemens is believed to have joined forces with Greek construction company TERNA and General Electric is working with Greece’s Mytilineos, according to sources.

The grid interconnection project’s development faces a tight schedule. IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis told a recent conference the project will be launched early 2023, not at the end of 2022, as was previously believed.

PPC wants cost coverage for Crete energy sufficiency moves

Power utility PPC is unwilling to move ahead with measures required to ensure energy sufficiency on Crete between 2020 and 2023 – the period during which the island’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens is planned to be developed – unless it is assured cost coverage for these actions through public service compensation (YKO) surcharges included on electricity bills.

Various measures deemed necessary by a National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) study have yet to be implemented.

On the contrary, various issues keep surfacing. Just recently, PPC informed there is not enough time to convert a diesel-fueled unit at Atherinolakkos into a gas-fueled facility by next summer. All of the island’s high-polluting diesel-run units must be withdrawn by the end of this year.

PPC wants the cost of unit conversions, natural gas orders, as well as take-or-pay clauses that may be attached to gas supply agreements covered by the public service compensation surcharge.

Besides representing part of the overall solution for Crete’s energy sufficiency between 2020 and 2023, the plan to convert old lignite units to gas-fueled facilities also promises to serve as a long-term solution.

The NTUA study for Crete also proposes the installation of a new 100-MW unit, preferably gas fueled; development of new RES facilities with a total capacity of between 100 and 150 MW; and the installation and incorporation into the grid of energy storage systems (high-tech batteries) with a capacity of 30 to 40 MW.

PM decision on Crete link, wider PCI plan support needed today

Negotiations ran throughout the day until late last night as all sides involved sought to determine if an agreement is possible on the prospective Crete-Athens power grid interconnector and whether the wider Athens-Crete-Cyprus-Israel interconnection, an EU project of common interest (PCI), remains feasible under the current conditions.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis must inform the European Commission  today on whether Athens supports the wider PCI project, a stance that would incorporate the Athens-Crete segment, or pursue this segment separately as a national project.

A European Commission PCI committee is meeting today to discuss the EU’s new PCI list for the next two years.

Greek power grid operator IPTO has been embroiled in a dispute with Cypriot consortium EuroAsia Interconnector over development control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment. EuroAsia Interconnector heads the wider project and has been joined by Elia, Belgium’s electricity transmission system operator, in a strategic alliance.

The Cypriot side entered yesterday’s negotiations with a slightly improved offer but the Greek side still considers it insufficient for constructive talks.

The Greek government has set red lines for the Athens-Crete segment, including no further delays for ongoing tenders offering converter station contracts, which effectively means technical term revisions will not be accepted. Greek officials insist compatibility for the wider project is ensured.

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.

Time insufficient for Crete diesel units switch to gas, will cost

Power utility PPC has admitted it does not have enough time to convert old, high-polluting diesel-fueled power stations operating on Crete into natural gas-fueled units by 2020, as it had previously assured, energypress sources have informed.

Though the island does not appear likely to experience an energy sufficiency problem, the cost of preventing a shortage will be considerable and will be covered by consumers around the country through elevated public service compensation (YKO) surcharges included on electricity bills.

Crete’s ageing diesel-fueled units, offering a total capacity of 100 MW, were given lifespan extensions in June through a legislative amendment delivered by the previous energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, without EU approval. EU fines cannot be ruled out.

This additional operating time is intended to provide cover until the launch of a small-scale grid interconnection to link Crete with the Peloponnese, expected at the end of 2020. A large-scale interconnection linking Crete with Athens is expected in 2023.

The conversion of the old power stations into gas-fueled units has constituted part of an overall plan to ensure energy sufficiency on Crete between 2020 and 2023.

Besides the high cost entailed in running these old power units, energy sufficiency on Crete is made even more expensive by high-priced leasing costs of power generators deployed on the island every summer to meet higher tourism-related electricity demand.

Plans for the installation of an FSRU off Crete appear to have also run into problems. Gas grid operator DESFA has proposed a bigger and permanent onshore LNG terminal installation.

 

Ratification of Cretan, western offshore licenses just days away

Parliamentary approval of offshore hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses awarded for four fields west and southwest of Crete as well as Greece’s west is now just days away.

The submission of all four licenses to Greek Parliament by this Friday for ratification is seen as a very likely prospect.

The related draft bill carrying the four licenses will essentially represent the recently appointed energy ministry’s first legislative act.

A consortium comprised of Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has been awarded two licenses for blocks west and southwest of Crete. Repsol and ELPE were the winning bidders of a tender for a block in the Ionian Sea.

Tenders for these three licenses were held following interest expressed in 2017.

ELPE is the sole participant in a license awarded for Block 10 northwest of the Peloponnese, following a tender launched in 2014.

Scientific surveys have confirmed many geological similarities between the two Cretan offshore blocks and southeast Mediterranean natural gas fields that have produced major discoveries such as Egypt’s Zohr, Cyprus’ Aphrodite and Israel’s Leviathan.

A clearer picture on the prospects of the Greek fields is expected in  eight years, the amount of time it should take to complete related exploration work. A first drilling operation is expected towards the end of this eight-year effort.

The presence of ExxonMobil and Total signals heightened US and French hydrocarbon interest in the wider southeast Mediterranean region.

Industry experts believe ratification of the four Greek licenses will spark further upstream developments in the wider region, including Greece. Preparations are underway for more offshore licenses, especially south of Crete, according to some sources.

Crete FSRU plan encounters issues, onshore unit proposed

A plan to install an FSRU off Crete to import LNG as a means of countering the island’s looming energy sufficiency problem between 2020 and 2023 appears to have run into trouble as floating units of the required capacity are not available in the market for this time period.

Gas grid operator DESFA, requested by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to examine the FSRU prospect, has already proposed an even more ambitious alternative, the installation of an onshore LNG terminal on Crete, according to sources.

However, the considerable time required to develop this alternative – no less than three years – is a problem. So, too, is the cost entailed. Some form of support, possibly through CAT remuneration, could be needed.

If its development is eventually pursued, the onshore facility would serve as an LNG storage and regasification unit for LNG arriving from the Revythoussa islet terminal, close to Athens, or other sources, including Egypt.

An onshore unit’s sustainability would depend on the existence of gas-fueled power stations on Crete with a total capacity of around 400 MW, it is estimated.

Its adoption would bring about changes to a four-part solution proposed by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) that entails converting power utility PPC’s 100-MW diesel-fueled units, situated at Atherinolakkos, into gas-fueled facilities; installing new gas-fueled power stations with a capacity of about 100 MW; developing new RES facilities offering a capacity of between 100 and 150 MW; and setting up a storage system for 30 to 40 MW.

A small-scale grid interconnection is planned to link Crete with the Peloponnese as of 2020, when older high-polluting units operating on the island will have been withdrawn, based on EU regulations. However, the island’s energy sufficiency issue will not be fully resolved until 2023, with the anticipated launch of a major-scale grid link with Athens.

 

DESFA looking to take on needed Cretan FSRU as operator

Gas grid operator DESFA is examining the prospect of taking on a Cretan FSRU project for LNG imports to the island, one of the measures being planned to protect Crete’s energy sufficiency between 2020 and 2023, when a large-scale grid interconnection with Athens is expected to be completed.

Old high-polluting power stations operating on Crete by power utility PPC will need to be withdrawn by the end of this year.

A small-scale grid interconnection is planned to link Crete with the Peloponnese as of 2020, but the island’s energy security issue will not be completely resolved until 2023, with the anticipated launch of the large-scale link to Athens.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has asked DESFA to consider the prospect of taking on the Cretan FSRU, as operator, which would incorporate the unit into the national energy system. Otherwise, a tender will need to be staged to seek another operator.

LNG supply to Crete is seen as essential for ensuring the island’s energy sufficiency during the crucial three-year period.

The Cretan energy security plan includes converting PPC’s 100-MW diesel-fueled units, situated at Atherinolakkos, into gas-fueled facilities. In addition, a new power station, preferably gas-fueled, is planned to be installed on Crete for a further capacity of approximately 100 MW.

 

 

Crete RES auctions, storage system tender planned for 2019

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, looking to protect Crete against energy shortages as of the end of this year, when old power generators operating on the island will need to be withdrawn, is planning new RES auctions for solar and wind energy units, as well as a tender for the installation of a modern energy storage system.

Crete faces a crucial energy sufficiency period between 2020, when the island’s small-scale grid interconnection with the Peloponnese will be launched, and 2023, when a large-scale link with Athens is expected to operate – if all goes according to plan.

The authority is planning to stage the RES auctions within 2019. RAE is also expecting a decision from DEDDIE/HEDNO, Greece’s distribution network operator, determining two or three points on Crete’s grid as suitable for the installation of modern energy storage systems offering a total capacity of between 30 and 40 MW. Once the operator has forwarded its proposal, a RAE tender will follow, within 2019, inviting investors to submit offers for the energy storage systems to be installed on Crete.

They will be portable, enabling transportation to other islands, should the need arise, sources informed.

RAE is referring to the results of a study conducted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) on the island’s energy sufficiency between 2020 and 2023.

Besides new RES facilities and the storage system, the RAE plan includes the conversion of 100-MW diesel-powered units at Atherinolakkos into natural gas-fired power stations, as well as the development of a new power station, preferably gas-fired, with a capacity of roughly 100 MW.

These measures are seen as optimal in terms of energy sufficiency, feasibility and environmental protection.

 

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.

 

 

Four-pronged solution likeliest to avert Crete energy shortage

Currently examining options to prevent a looming energy shortage on Crete as of next year, when outdated high-polluting power stations will need to cease operating, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, appears most likely to settle for a four-pronged solution involving facility conversions, the introduction of a new gas-fueled unit, additional renewable energy output and energy storage.

The package, constituting one of several plans researched by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), is seen as an optimal solution as it combines energy sufficiency, economy and environmental protection.

Crete faces an energy sufficiency alert between 2020 – when older units will cease operating and a small-scale grid interconnection linking the island with the Peloponnese is launched – and 2023, when a large-scale interconnection linking the island’s grid with Athens is expected to be completed.

The NTUA proposal includes converting 100-MW diesel-fueled units at Atherinolakkos to a gas-fueled facility; installing a new 100-MW unit, preferably gas fueled; development of new RES facilities with a total capacity of between 100 and 150 MW; and, in an unprecedented move for Greece, the installation and incorporation into the grid of energy storage systems (high-tech batteries) with a capacity of 30 to 40 MW.

Development of this four-pronged solution has, in effect, already begun but details still need to be discussed with energy ministry officials, the IPTO and DEDDIE/HEDNO operators, and power utility PPC.