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.


Investors will ‘abandon Crete blocks if discoveries not significant’

Two offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete, licensed out just days ago to a three-member consortium comprised of Total (40%), ExxonMobil (40%) and Hellenic Petroleum-ELPE (20%), promise far greater production potential than blocks further north in the Ionian Sea, but investors will leave if these Cretan blocks do not offer significant output, a top-ranked official has noted.

Investors will abandon their efforts if a production target of at least 500 million barrels is not reached as the investment costs are considerable, Yiannis Basias, the head official at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, told state-run radio Proto Programma.

He denounced environmental concerns being expressed, describing these as inexplicable, “unless the intention is to stop the exploration activity altogether.”

Hydrocarbon companies spend vast amounts of money to ensure the avoidance of problems as, besides affecting the environment, local economy and health of individuals, any accident would also instantly blacklist companies and trouble their futures, the EDEY chief highlighted.

Sizable discoveries promise to greatly change Greece’s image and standing in the southeast Mediterranean region, Basias remarked, adding that the country’s economy would gain some balance for a less burdensome future.

At present, economic gains generated by tourism are immediately offset by costs concerning  natural gas and crude costs, the EDEY chief said.

PM to attend Cretan block signing ceremony, reshuffling in west

A signing ceremony scheduled to take place tomorrow for hydrocarbon exploration and production rights concerning at least one of two offshore Cretan blocks will be attended by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose speech is expected to emphasize Greece’s effort to utilize the country’s mineral wealth and also project a message opposing Turkey’s provocative behavior in the southeast Mediterranean.

The energy ministry will sign an agreement tomorrow with a three-member consortium comprised of ExxonMobil, Total and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for an offshore license west of Crete.

A second block, situated adjacently southwest of Crete, could also be signed by the two sides tomorrow. But it still needs to be endorsed by a local authority, making the prospect highly unlikely.

Both agreements will first need to be approved by Greek Parliament before exploration work commences. A first phase of exploratory survey work is planned to last three years. If the feedback is favorable, drilling activities will follow after 2022, according to current plans.

Meanwhile, consortiums that have secured licenses for blocks in western Greece are moving to reshuffle their line-ups, energypress sources have reported.

This activity, a common occurrence in the global oil industry, has been attributed to maneuvering by multinationals for moves to blocks seen offering better prospects as well as efforts to seek additional partners for investment cost sharing.

Greece’s geopolitical role and blocks are gaining stature on the international map amid all this activity.

EDEY aims to offer complete Crete portfolio with new areas to next gov’t

EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is striving to have completed all preliminary work for new licenses off Crete so that Greece’s next government can be handed a complete portfolio ready for licensing procedures when it begins its tenure following the snap elections on July 7.

The country’s next administration will need to push ahead with new hydrocarbon projects.

EDEY is currently working on environmental studies concerning new areas south of Crete, which the company intends to offer to investors for exploration and production.

Their features differ to those of two offshore licenses already secured by a three-member consortium comprised of ExxonMobil, Total and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), west and southwest of Crete.

The new areas south of Crete had been swept aside in previous procedures but new scientific data has revitalized the interest of investors.

A signing ceremony for one of the two Cretan hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses, west of Crete, will be staged this Thursday, the ExxonMobil- Total-ELPE consortium has been informed.

The second license, southwest of Crete, may also be added to Thursday’s signing ceremony. However, its finalized version still needs to be formally presented, meaning investors will most probably need to wait until after Greece’s snap elections for this license to be signed.

Gas conversion of Cretan plants added to island sufficiency plan

The conversion of power utility PPC’s oil power plant facilities in Crete’s Atherinolakos location into gas-fueled units appears to be the latest addition to a package of solutions intended to ensure electricity sufficiency on the island as of 2020, when high-polluting units, in their current form, will need to have been withdrawn from the system as part of the EU’s environmental policy.

The Atherinolakos units, offering a 100-MW capacity, were granted lifetime extensions a few days ago by energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, unilaterally, without European Commission approval, for continued operation until a grid interconnection project linking Crete with the Peloponnese is completed.

These PPC units have already been given an extension by the European Commission until the end of this year.

The energy minister’s plan intends to keep the Atherinolakos units running until the Crete-Peloponnese interconnection, Crete’s small-scale link, is completed. A large-scale interconnection linking Crete with Athens is also in the making.

The Atherinolakos units could end up becoming part of a long-term solution for Crete that will depend on LNG shipments to Crete.


Crete offshore licenses a step away from finalization

A decision by the Court of Audit, one of Greece’s highest ranking courts, approving two hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses for offshore blocks south and west of Crete to a consortium comprised of Total, ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) paves the way for the signing of finalized agreements.

This could take place at a signing ceremony on Crete prior to the July 7 snap elections with the participation of energy minister Giorgos Stathakis.

The three companies, keen to begin exploration activities before the end of the year, have urged the government for a swift completion of procedures.

The two agreements will still need to be ratified in Parliament following next month’s general elections before the three-member consortium can commence work.

The Court of Audit’s favorable decision represents one of the final steps in a procedure started in 2017, when Total and ExxonMobil had expressed interest.


Heightened activity, consortium reshuffling as drilling nears

Following a wider trend observed in the southeast Mediterranean, consortiums holding hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses in Greek territory are moving to reshuffle their line-ups, especially for blocks in the Ionian Sea, as the first local drilling operations in decades draw nearer, energypress sources have informed.

The reshuffling activity, which has not involved blocks off Crete, has been attributed to a search by multinationals for additional partners in consortiums established with Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) as a means of reducing high costs demanded by deep-water exploration in the Ionian Sea.

ELPE holds exploration and production rights for various blocks in the Ionian Sea through consortiums established with Total, Edison and Repsol.

Video Data Rooms have been set up to enable prospective participants to view seismic survey data for Ionian Sea blocks, as well as technical and financial information.

The current reshuffling activity could produce new consortium line-ups by the end of the year, sources have informed.

Greece’s first drilling operation in several decades, at the Gulf of Patras, is expected to commence early next year. Positive results promise to provide further impetus for more drilling in Greek territory.


Ministry planning Crete diesel unit extensions beyond 2019

The energy ministry is preparing a legislative amendment to extend the lifelines of all diesel-fueled power stations operated by the state-controlled power utility PPC on Crete, despite EU regulations requiring the gradual withdrawal of these high-polluting units in 2020 and 2021.

The ministry wants a longer life for PPC’s diesel-powered units to avoid energy shortage problems on Crete until the island’s grid interconnections with the Peloponnese and Athens are completed and launched, in 2022 and 2023, respectively, as is anticipated. PPC needs to be legally covered to keep these units running.

Last October, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete made clear that Greece will not be granted any further deadline extensions beyond December 31, 2019 for the diesel-fueled power stations operating on Crete.

Three diesel-fueled power stations with a total capacity of 728 MW currently operate on Crete. The island’s electricity demand is currently at a level of 630 MW and is expected to exceed 700 MW in 2020.

Hydrocarbon licenses on hold as a result of snap elections

The country’s ambitious hydrocarbon exploration and production plan appears set to be impacted by further delays as a result of the government’s call for snap elections, now expected to take place on July 7.

License agreements signed recently for offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and west of the Peloponnese, will, as a result, not be pushed through for ratification in parliament until after the elections.

An Ionian Sea license has been acquired by a consortium comprising Repsol and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), while ELPE has also taken on Block 10, further south, west of the Peloponnese.

Licenses offered for blocks west and southwest of Crete to a consortium made up of Total, ExxonMobil and ELPE are also set to face delays as a result of the country’s political developments. The triple-member team will need to hold on for several more months before it can begin work at these promising spots. The consortium’s licences, still in the hands of a supervisory committee, have also yet to be ratified in parliament. No action on these is expected prior to the early general elections.

Procedures concerning the formation of a new government and the ensuing summer break will delay the ratification of these agreements until September, experts have estimated.

Investors looking forward to exploration work in the Ionian Sea and off Crete have become well acquainted with the slow-moving ways of Greece and are prepared to remain patient until this latest obstacle is cleared, pundits noted.

The country’s recent administrations have all moved slowly on hydrocarbon licensing matters.


Bigger power shortage forecast for Crete demands extra action

Having just determined a bigger-than-expected electricity shortage on Crete for this coming summer, DEDDIE/HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, has informed the main power utility PPC to bolster its plan for additional mobile electricity production units on the island.

The operator has increased its projected summer shortage for Crete to 90 MW from the previous forecast of 50 MW.

PPC licensing procedures concerning the transfer of mobile electricity production units to Crete are already in progress, based on the original power shortage forecast. These mobile units, including 18 company-owned units currently stationed on Rhodes and totaling 23 MW, possess a total production capacity of 61 MW.

More units will now need to be brought into action to cover the 90-MW shortage forecast for Crete. RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has urged PPC to act fast. Crete’s electricity needs will begin escalating to high levels in July.

PPC has already made clear it will need to be assured of reimbursements before it can make any additional capacity-boosting moves for Crete. It is awaiting officials documents from RAE recognizing the cost entailed.

Once the Cretan capacity issues for this summer have been resolved, RAE will need to think about the summer of 2020 as a small-scale grid interconnection linking the island with the Peloponnese will not have been completed. Solutions for the summers of 2021 and 2022, the intermediate period between Crete’s small-scale interconnection and the big link to Athens, also need to be found.

Solutions minimizing cost and environmental impact are the top priority for authorities.

Greek PCI support for Eurosia conditional, minister suggests

Greece’s decision to proceed with the development of the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection as a national project through power grid operator IPTO’s special purpose vehicle Ariadne rather than as part of a wider Euroasia Interconnector project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids has cast doubts over the future PCI status of Euroasia’s Crete-Cyprus and Cyprus-Israel segments.

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider project, will need the support of all parties involved if the Crete-Cyprus and Cyprus-Israel segments are to secure a place in the EU’s new PCI list, enabling favorable funding, when the updated list is published later this year, in autumn.

Though Greece’s energy ministry has yet to make its intentions clear, it faces pressure, especially from Cyprus, to support the continued PCI-status of the Crete-Cyprus and Cyprus-Israel segments as their development would end Cyprus’ electricity grid isolation.

Greece’s stance will most likely depend on Euroasia Interconnector’s moves and whether it will seek to obstruct the development of the Crete-Athens interconnection through legal procedures and other action.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has suggested Greece’s support for the wider project’s PCI status would be conditional.

IPTO recently decided to remove the Crete-Athens segment from the wider Greece-Cyprus-Israel interconnection project as the operator was embroiled in a dispute with the Cypriot consortium over the local segment’s control.

EDEY to drum up Greek oil, gas hopes at Italy, Romania events

Spurred by recent significant gas field discoveries at Cypriot and Egyptian offshore blocks and the favorable prospects these have generated for the wider region, top officials at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, will be looking to attract major foreign investors to new Greek blocks at two industry events in Italy and Romania.

EDEY chairman Yiannis Basias, who is in Ravenna, Italy today to attend the Offshore Mediterranean Conference & Exhibition, a leading industry event, will be exploring the potential interest of oil majors, including Italy’s ENI, for new offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and off Crete to soon be licensed out.

EDEY chief’s deputy Spyros Bellas will follow up this effort in Bucharest at the Balkans & Black Sea Cooperation Forum, scheduled to take place April 4 and 5.

Tristan Aspray, ExxonMobil’s Vice President of Exploration for Europe, Russia, and the Caspian, hailed the wider region’s prospects at the recent Delphi Economic Forum in Greece. ExxonMobil is currently involved in exploration work being carried out in Romania.

Speaking earlier this month at London’s Global APPEX (Prospect & Property Expo), an event organized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), Bellas, EDEY’s deputy, presented a road map of Greece’s hydrocarbon plans for 2019 to officials of foreign companies as well as latest and more detailed geological data on the Ionian Sea and Cretan regions. This data was processed by Norway’s PGS.

The strategy adopted at EDEY is to plan tenders for offshore blocks based on the interest expressed by foreign investors at this series of meetings.

Besides ENI and ExxonMobil, EDEY is seeking to convince Repsol, Shell and other US majors of Greece’s hydrocarbon prospects.



Motor Oil’s LPG power plant plan for Crete raises local objections

Motor Oil is preparing to develop a 120-MW LPG-fueled combined cycle power power plant on Crete but will need to overcome local resistance, early developments have already indicated.

The company has applied to RAE, Greece’s regulatory authority for energy authority, for an electricity production license for a combined cycle power power plant in the Hania prefecture’s Souda area, seen as a major prospective investment for Greece’s electricity generation sector.

The region’s Pera Platani area has been classified as an industrial zone in Crete’s new regional spatial plan, already revised and endorsed by authorities.

However, local community and authority objections have already been raised. The Hania municipal council yesterday voted unanimously against the project, noting its choice of location is part of a residential area. The island’s Korakia, Atherinolakkos and Xylokamara areas have been classified as the island’s energy hubs, the local council noted in its decision.

All parties with objections to Motor Oil’s choice of location for the investment plan have until March 23 to inform RAE.

Fast-track procedures for Crete energy shortage threat

The government is preparing fast-track procedures for the installation of electricity production facilities on Crete by  2020, needed to avoid an energy shortage following an EU-required withdrawal of old units at the end of 2019.

Installations of wind turbines as well as power generators that may be hired or transferred from Rhodes are among the solutions being considered by authorities to ensure the island’s energy sufficiency.

Building permit demands are expected to be omitted to make the fast-track procedures as swift as possible.

The plan’s new electricity generation solutions will be crucial until the completion of a small-scale grid interconnection linking Crete with the Peloponnese, expected during 2020. Even then, Crete will still face a 200-MW capacity deficit until a major-scale grid interconnection, linking Crete with Athens, is completed in 2022.

Three old, high-polluting units with a total capacity of 728 MW will need to stop operating on Crete as a result of strict EU environmental regulations, Miguel Arias Canete, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, has made clear to the Greek government.

Electricity demand on Crete, one of the country’s biggest tourism destinations, currently stands at 630 MW and is expected to exceed 700 MW in 2020.


IPTO plans Crete link tender for Euroasia’s neglected 39%

Greek power grid operator IPTO has announced it will stage a tender offering investors, especially European operators, a stake in Ariadne Interconnector, an SPV established by the grid operator for the development of a Crete-Athens interconnection.

The move was prompted by the neglection of a pre-emption right, for a 39 percent stake in the SPV, by Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project. Euroasia Interconnector had been set a December 31 deadline to accept the offer for 200 million euros.

IPTO and the Cypriot consortium have been embroiled in a dispute for control of the wider grid interconnection project’s Crete-Athens segment.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, which appointed IPTO project promoter of the Crete-Athens link, required to prevent a looming energy shortage threat on Crete, will need to approve IPTO’s plan for a tender before this procedure can go ahead.

Euroasia Interconnector will now need to participate in IPTO’s prospective tender should it ultimately decide to become involved in the development of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

IPTO has already begun contacting European energy transmission operators, Manos Manousakis, chief executive at IPTO, informed yesterday. The Greek operator had approached Belgium’s Elia and France’s RTE in the past. A new invitation for their participation cannot be ruled out.

Euroasia Interconnector is widely expected to launch a legal challenge.

Earlier this month, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete forwarded a letter to Greek energy minister Giorgos Stathakis informing him that RAE’s decisions have led to delays in the wider PCI project, according to Greek daily Kathimerini.

The commissioner has apparently asked Greece to decide whether the Crete-Athens grid interconnection will be developed as a PCI project, enabling EU funding advantages, or as a national project, which would eliminate the project’s promoter from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a key EU funding instrument. The repercussions would spill over onto tariffs paid by consumers.