ELPE to abandon its onshore block licenses in country’s west

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has decided to limit its presence in Greece’s upstream sector, driven by unfavorable market developments, sources have informed.

Spain’s Repsol recently also opted to surrender upstream rights in Greece.

ELPE intends to return to the Greek State its exploration and production licenses for two onshore blocks, Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese, sources noted. The Greek petroleum company has deemed exploration activities in these specific areas as no longer being feasible, the sources added.

The company, in reaching its decision to withdraw from the Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese blocks, also took into account negative reactions by local community groups as well as a series of bureaucratic obstacles, sources said.

The Greek State’s failure to deal with a lack of infrastructure at the port of Patras, close to these blocks in Greece’s west, is seen as a key factor in ELPE’s decision to withdraw from the Arta-Preveza and northwest Peloponnese blocks, despite promising seismic research results.

ELPE does not intend to surrender its interests in offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete. It is a co-member of consortiums with Total and ExxonMobil for these licenses.

The government is placing emphasis on renewable energy sources, foreign minister Nikos Dendias has just told Arab News.

 

PPC staging tender for generators as back-up on Crete this summer

Power utility PPC has just announced a tender for leasing contracts concerning power generators with a total capacity of 58 MW for Crete, to serve as back-up for grid sufficiency on the island during July and August, in anticipation of the tourism-related peak in electricity demand.

The generators, to be installed at PPC’s power station at Atherinolakkos, southeastern Crete, are intended to back an imminent subsea grid interconnection linking the island with the Peloponnese – the first step of a bigger interconnection project to reach Athens – which will have only been in operation for a few months when summer arrives.

The Crete-Peloponnese power grid interconnection is expected to be ready for launch in late April.

PPC’s plan for generators, budgeted at approximately 4 million euros, has been divided into two sections, one for 23 MW, the other for 35 MW. Participants can only submit offers for one of the tender’s two sections.

According to the tender’s terms, PPC will maintain the right to extend the lease contracts for all or some of the generators by a month, also covering September, if needed.

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO has estimated that Crete will need between 75 and 80 MW in additional capacity this summer. Besides the 58 MW to be provided by the generators through the tender, PPC will secure the required remainder through back-up solutions already possessed by the power utility.

If all goes according to plan, PPC’s rented generators, mobile units running on high-cost diesel, will not need to be used at all while stationed on the island, meaning the initiative’s total cost would be limited to the value of the lease agreements.

Total, ExxonMobil, ELPE delay Crete surveys for next winter

A decision by the three-member consortium comprising Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) to conduct seismic surveys at two offshore blocks south and west of Crete in the winter of 2021-2022, instead of this winter, highlights the upstream market’s negative climate, both in Greece and internationally.

Upstream players, drastically cutting down on investments costs amid the crisis, have cancelled scores of investment plans, especially those concerning the development of new fields.

Based on the terms of its contract, the Total-ExxonMobil-ELPE consortium also had the opportunity to conduct seismic surveys at its Cretan offshore blocks this winter.

It should be pointed out that the consortium has yet to receive environmental approval for these blocks. Nor have these slots been included in an annual workplan delivered by EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company.

Even so, Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE do not appear prepared, under the current conditions, to increase their investment risk in the region.

Crete network responsibility rift may delay new link’s utilization

Though Crete’s small-scale grid interconnection, to reach the Peloponnese, appears set for a late-March launch, as planned by the project’s developer, the power grid operator IPTO, a dispute with distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO over the point in time at which management responsibility of this link should be transferred from DEDDIE, currently responsible for Crete’s network as the island is classified as a non-interconnected island, to IPTO, threatens to delay the vital grid link’s full utilization.

Normally, when grid interconnection projects for non-interconnected islands are completed, IPTO assumes responsibility of their electricity networks.

However, Crete, Greece’s biggest and most populous island, represents a much bigger interconnection project that is being developed over two stages. The project’s second stage, anticipated in 2023, will reach Athens.

IPTO, in a letter forwarded to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and DEDDIE/HEDNO, contends it cannot assume management responsibility of networks that it does not own, such as Crete’s high-voltage network, which belongs to the power utility PPC group.

PPC will need to swiftly sell to IPTO the Cretan network, a 150-kV transmission line running from Hania to Lasithi, before the operator assumes its responsibility, the operator noted.

PPC does not appear quite ready to make such a move at present. As a result, IPTO insists DEDDIE/HEDNO needs to maintain responsibility for the Cretan grid from the moment the island’s small-scale interconnection is completed until ownership of the Cretan grid is transferred to IPTO.

On the contrary, DEDDIE/HEDNO, citing technical reasons as the main factor, believes IPTO should take on management responsibility of Crete’s grid as soon as it completes the small-scale link.

For the time being, RAE is consulting both sides in search of a solution. If PPC moves slowly on the transfer of ownership of the Cretan network to IPTO, then the new infrastructure’s full commercial utilization could be delayed.

Upstream projects awaiting Greek State reassurances

Local and foreign upstream companies holding exploration and production licenses for hydrocarbon reserves on Greek territory, offshore and onshore, are awaiting Greek State reassurances for their ventures following a cabinet reshuffle that has resulted in a change of leadership at the energy ministry, bringing in Kostas Skrekas in place of Costis Hatzidakis.

Oil companies, delaying investment plans as a result of the pandemic and lower oil prices, are waiting for a vote of confidence from the Greek State, market sources insist.

The fall in oil prices, currently at levels of about 50 dollar a barrel, may have halted upstream investments internationally, but, nevertheless, this is a good time for resolving bureaucratic obstacles and preparing local communities for prospective exploration efforts that promise to contribute to job creation and economic recovery.

Four upstream investment plans are currently either at an advanced stage in terms of prospective drilling or at preliminary exploration stages.

Of all four plans, Energean’s license for Katakolo, western Greece, is at the most mature stage. Public consultation on an environmental impact study concerning this project’s drilling requirements was completed in December, 2019. The regional authority for western Greece has offered its approval. Even so, a year later, the energy ministry has yet to deliver its decision on the environmental study.

A license for the Gulf of Patras field, held by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Edison, is also at a mature stage. The partners requested, and were granted, an extension for the start of drilling at this field. EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, granted the pair a further 15 months, until January 23, 2023, to facilitate their preparations.

Sources have attributed this additional time to a lack of appropriate regional port facilities, needed to facilitate the installation of equipment required for drilling. ELPE and Edison had previously been given another extension, until October, 2021.

On another front, a partnership comprising Repsol and Energean has until April to start a second stage of exploration activities at its Ioannina block in northwestern Greece. Local community approval is needed. The government needs to take action on the issue.

A fourth upstream project carrying geopolitical weight concerns licenses held by a consortium made up of Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE for offshore fields west and southwest of Crete. Though company representatives recently informed Crete’s regional authorities that seismic surveys are planned to begin towards spring, there have been no further updates or any signs of action.

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.

 

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.