DEPA, Edison firm on East Med amid Turkish provocation

Italy’s Edison, part of the Poseidon consortium formed with Greek gas utility DEPA for the development of the East Med gas pipeline – planned to transport natural gas from Israeli and Cypriot fields to the EU via Greece and Italy – has decided to accelerate pre-construction procedures following escalating provocation from Turkey, energypress has reported.

A decision was reached at a recent Poseidon meeting in Milan to assign all needed project studies, financially backed by the EU, within the next two months for swifter completion of preliminary procedures, and, by extension, the project itself, a 2,000-km pipeline.

Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and his Israeli counterpart Yuval Steinitz reiterated their support for the project at a recent meeting.

Turkey, seeking to block the project, recently reached a maritime border agreement with Libya, which EU leaders are set to reject as invalid, insisting the pact interferes with the rights of other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Hristodoulidis has received reassurances from Israeli government officials that the country is not involved in talks with Ankara for the development of an alternative gas pipeline, according to a Cypriot newspaper report. Israel remains committed to the East Med plan, it added.

DEPA’s Poseidon stake will be transferred to the Greek gas utility’s division for international projects. DEPA is being split ahead of its upcoming privatization.

Energean submits applications to import, supply gas to Cyprus

Energean Oil & Gas, the oil and gas producer focused on the Mediterranean, has submitted applications to Cypriot authorities for import and supply of natural gas to Cyprus commencing 2021, the company has announced.

The submission of the applications follows the ‘Karish to Cyprus Preliminary Pipeline Development Plan’ that has already been presented to the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority, according to which, natural gas will be transported through pipelines from the Karish offshore block to the “Energean Power” Floating Production, Storage and Offloading unit, and from there through a pipeline to Vassiliko, Cyprus, where it will landfall.

The pipeline from the Energean Power FPSO to Vassiliko will have a total length of 215 kilometres and transport natural gas from the Karish North field, offshore Israel, which contains 25 BCM of discovered recoverable resources. Total investment will be circa $350 million and will be funded by Energean.

The Republic of Cyprus will bear no upfront cost. Provided that there will be no delays in permitting procedures, the project will allow the Republic of Cyprus to receive competitively priced natural gas from 2021.

Moreover, the project will further strengthen Cyprus’ geostrategic role in the Eastern Mediterranean, in accordance with the trilateral cooperation between Cyprus, Israel and Greece and in reference to the East Med Pipeline project that is planned to transport natural gas to Europe.

Mathios Rigas, CEO of Energean, stated:

“Energean’s proposal offers the Republic of Cyprus the option to switch to natural gas as soon as possible, and under the most competitive terms. Execution of the proposal will bring competition to the Cypriot natural gas market, decrease energy costs across the economy and result in enhanced diversity and security of supply. Our proposal enhances the planning of the Republic of Cyprus and the security of supply, as it is supplementary to the LNG import procedures launched by the Cypriot Government.

We expect that the Republic of Cyprus will take advantage of the options that the market offers for the benefit of the Cypriot economy and the consumers”.

Energean has already signed Letters of Intent (LOIs) with all three IPPs that have been granted a license to construct combined cycle power plants in Cyprus – Power Energy Cyprus, Lysarea Energia and Paramount Energy Corporation.

The Energean Power FPSO has a capacity of 8BCM per year and Energean has already signed firm GSPAs with Israeli IPPs and industrial consumers for 4.5 BCM per year for an average period of 16 years as of 2021.


Cyprus on track for Industry 4.0

By Constantinos Kesentes

Chairman of the Board of Directors at GAIAOSE

Member of Innovation Advisory Team at HCAP

After the difficult period of the economic crisis, the Republic of Cyprus has been impressive in the way it is preparing the future. A characteristic example is the field of innovation. The Republic of Cyprus has turned its attention to the fourth industrial revolution and strives to create the right environment, at the level of enterprises, companies, services and investments, by adopting innovative practices and processes.

On the initiative of the President of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimitris Syllouris and through a systematic effort of three years, Cyprus has already developed a National Strategy for Blockchain Technologies and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) while the corresponding National Strategy for the Development of Artificial Intelligence is already at the stage of completion. With a clear vision, strategic goals, priorities and a precise roadmap that includes pilot projects and the necessary legislative reforms the Republic of Cyprus is claiming a position among the pioneering EU states and a coordinating role at a regional level.

Given the recent experience of attending the Conference of the House of Representatives on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Innovation, Artificial Intelligence, and Integration”, I would like to point out some aspects that impressed me:

– The high symbolism of organizing such a specialized conference inside the House of Representatives and with the active participation of Members of the House, which signifies the importance that the Republic of Cyprus attaches to the issues of innovation.

– The harmonious cooperation of public and private academic institutions with public and private bodies with the sole aim of advancing the country.

– The inspirational leadership of President D. Syllouris who bears the characteristics of a visionary politician and a result-oriented manager. An example of his effectiveness and determination was his statement to a participant who noticed that “In order for the pilot projects to begin the completion of the legislative reforms is required.” The President’s answer was: “If we want to be among the successful countries, we have to move fast. We will find the way to realize the pilot projects without having to wait for the completion of the legislative work.”

Having these thoughts, I met the President Mr. D. Syllouris during his recent visit in Athens to discuss about the conclusions of the Conference and investigate the cooperation opportunities between Greece and Cyprus for the development of innovative infrastructure and services.

Right after the Conference, at the initiative of the House of Representatives, the process for developing an integrated legislative framework for blockchain/DLT has begun. With the help of experts from Europe and the US, a modern and flexible institutional framework is being designed with a particular emphasis on supervisory mechanisms, which will ensure the transparency and the avoidance of the use of blockchain services to serve illegal activities.

The medium-term goal of President D. Syllouris is the establishment of a Network of Understanding and Cooperation among all interested parties for the implementation of the National Strategy of the Republic of Cyprus for the fourth industrial revolution. Academic institutions, research centers, the business world, startup ecosystems and funds will be invited to participate in this network and to cooperate in order to make Cyprus a benchmark for industry 4.0.

In this context, significant opportunities of cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and States of the wider region are created to develop public blockchain services infrastructure and to engage companies in the provision of value added services in sectors such as supply chain, real estate, transportation, fintech, retail, intelligent agriculture, food safety & traceability and many more. These co operations could be the catalyst for the overall upgrade of the two countries’ economy.

It is worth mentioning that, according to a recent report of the World Economic Forum, blockchain could lead to 1.5% global GDP growth in the next decade. With this expectation a global race to develop such infrastructure and services has begun. The recent “Worldwide Semiannual Blockchain Spending Guide” report of International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that spending on developing blockchain solutions in 2019 will increase by 80% comparing to 2018 and will reach 15.9 billion USD in 2023.

The position of Greece and Cyprus in this scene is reinforced by the fact that the fourth industrial revolution is of high priority for the EU. The European Commission has a holistic approach to blockchain technologies and DLT, which aims at positioning Europe at the forefront of blockchain innovation and uptake. In this context, the EU aims through a series of initiatives to reinforce cooperation on the development of blockchain/DLT based applications, support international standard setting and facilitate dialogue between industry stakeholders and regulators, notably for a regulatory framework, that builds on the EU acquis.

An important initiative that is involved in the above context is the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) for the establishment of a European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) that will support the delivery of cross-border digital public services, with the highest standards of security and privacy. Both Greece and Cyprus are members of EBP. At the same time the EU, in order to encourage cooperation between public and private sector, has launched the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA), which brings together industry, startups and SMEs, policy makers, international organisations, regulators, civil society and standard setting bodies to support blockchain/DLT to be mainstreamed and scaled-up across multiple sectors. The EU context of initiatives is complemented with appropriate funding. Already 180 M€ of EU funding spent to support research and innovation in blockchain/DLT while a new investment fund, “The blockchain and AI fund”, is being created. In 2020, 100 M€ will be allocated to the European Investment Fund (EIF) for being invested in Venture Capital funds, who will then invest a total of 300 to 400 M€ in AI and blockchain startups.

This favorable framework, which appears to be in place, is an important opportunity for growth for the economies of Cyprus and Greece. Initiatives like the one of the President of the House of Representatives, Mr. D. Syllouris, contribute to this very direction.



PHAOS Renewables and Sungrow join forces for Greece, Cyprus

PHAOS Renewables, a Greek company with significant experience in the PV sector since the birth of the Greek market back in 2007, has formed a partnership with Sungrow Power Supply, a global leader, for the Greek and Cypriot markets, the partners have announced.

The partnership was established to facilitate high-quality and reliability needs prompted by growth in both these markets, the partners announced.

As a result, PHAOS Renewables is now an official distributor of Sungrow in Greece and Cyprus.

Both companies have set a target for quick development and the acquisition of a market share proportional to Sungrow’s leading global position through the supply of its innovative products via the PHAOS Renewables channel and support.

PHAOS Renewables is committed to supplying high-quality services and offering constant support, both commercial and technical, it noted.

“We are very happy and proud to join forces with PHAOS Renewables and together introduce to the Greek and Cypriot markets our products and solutions. Especially, we are in the happy position through this agreement to launch our new CX series which have been developed with all the latest technological innovations and convenience of very easy commissioning,” noted Baris Sözener, Sungrow’s Director of Sales & Operations for Turkey, Greece, the Balkans and Ukraine.

“PHAOS Renewables provides world-class commercial and technical support and consultancy to its partners and clients and this is one of the reasons why we chose them as our strategic partner,” stressed Florian Chan, Sungrow’s Head of Distribution Europe.

Konstantinos Karagiannidis, General Manager at PHAOS Renewables, commented: “We are very happy and proud to have reached this distribution agreement for Sungrow products in Greece and Cyprus. It is widely known that Sungrow is the global leader in the solar inverters industry. This agreement recognizes the potential of PHAOS Renewables in the PV sector and also reinforces the company to achieve its goal of providing services and products of the highest quality to our partners and clients.”

Sungrow’s global installed capacity totals more than 87 GW, June figures showed. Founded in 1997 by University Professor Cao Renxian, the company is a leader in the research and development of solar inverters. Powered by a dedicated R&D team, it markets a broad product portfolio offering PV inverter solutions and energy storage systems for utility-scale, commercial, and residential applications, as well as internationally recognized floating PV plant solutions.

Sungrow products power installations in over 60 countries, maintaining a worldwide market share of over 15%, the company noted.



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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

More than €3bn invested during crisis, ELPE Upstream chief tells

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s Upstream S.A. CEO  Yannis Grigoriou was interviewed for the 3rd episode of BGS Talks Youtube show, discussing, with Regina Chislova, Project Director of Exploration and Production Offshore Congress Hub EPOCH 2019, offshore exploration in Greece; relations between the company and the Greek government; cooperation with ExxonMobil and Total; investments during the crisis and other topics. Excerpts, provided by the BGS Group, follow below. The full interview is available on BGS Talks Youtube channel.

Regina Chislova: In general, let us list the most important projects happening in the region right now.

Yannis Grigoriou: I think what is going on around Cyprus is very interesting, the big majors are there… I think that over the next days we will have some positive announcements. The licensing round of Egypt was a success for the country…And, in Greece, we are signing the lease agreement for two huge offshore blocks around Crete together with Total and Exxon Mobil.

R.C: Could you give us more details on this project, since the majors came to the region.

Y.G: We have geological concepts in our mind. It was almost three years ago, when we had in our hands some multi-client seismic data sold by PGS. We were looking at those and trying to interpret the complex geology of the area…So we worked on that for 2 or 3 months and then we discussed it with Total…We thought: “Let’s form a joint venture to go further on that.” We did that and then we thought again “We need another company to join us” and…we approached Exxon Mobil. In autumn 2016, we created a very strong joint venture for the exploration in the country – Total 40% operator, Exxon Mobil 40%, and ELPE 20%. Following negotiations and other things we are set to sign the lease agreements for these 2 blocks which are really big and very promising.”

“R.C: The country suffered from an enormous crisis. How has the oil and gas industry survived?

Y.G: At ELPE, we survived the crisis because we invested more than €3 billion in building a brand new refinery near Athens and also upgraded our refineries. As the group mostly consists of the downstream oriented group, these investments, first of all, created a number of jobs. We had an opportunity to produce high-quality products according to the strictest EU specifications, which we exported to nearby countries – to Italy, France; we are exporting petrochemicals to Turkey. So, we overcame the Greek crisis by exporting products. We have experienced high profits over the last 3 years…Our profits on an EBITDA basis are almost €800-900 million, which gives us an opportunity for further growth and investments in other business opportunities like upstream or renewables. The export of renewables is also the next pillar for growth for the company.”

“R.C: The principle of your company is “we operate with responsibility towards society and the environment”. Can you elaborate?

Y.G: Health, safety and environment is our first principle for all the company’s activities. We are trying our best, in all our activities, to protect the health of our employees, the health of the local communities, and their safety and the environment. At a recent Gulf of Patras project, for example, where we conducted a 3D seismic survey, we did so in compliance with environmental regulations and special attention to the dolphins.

“R.C: How do you approach your team as a senior-level manager?

Y.G: If I say “as a friend” perhaps there would be misunderstanding in the whole group, but the way we work is like that. We are not a kindergarten. Perhaps, if you ask them, they might tell you that I’m a very strict boss and I push them to the end. But we set goals – sometimes difficult ones – and all of us work together to achieve them.”

Watch the full interview on BGS Talks Youtube channel for insight into why Yannis Grigoriou thinks it is possible to discover fields the size of Zohr in the Greek offshore area; how to cope with failure, and other matters.  


Step closer to establishment of natural gas market in Cyprus

The multinational consortium of JV China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Co Ltd, AKTOR S.A. and METRON S.A., with Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Co. Ltd and Wilhelmsen Ship Management Limited has emerged as the preferred bidder in a tender for the construction of infrastructure required for the introduction of natural gas in Cyprus, authorities announced today.

The project’s planned LNG import terminal includes a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU), a jetty for the mooring of the FSRU, jetty borne and onshore pipelines as well as additional facilities.

The LNG Import Project is co-financed by a grant from the EU Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) financing instrument.

The tender’s result is the outcome of a lengthy and complex tender process overseen by DEFA in cooperation with external industry experts, amongst whom were highly experienced technical, legal, commercial and financial experts.

The preferred bidder needed to satisfy a series of qualitative, quantitative and financial criteria so as to be able to demonstrate an ability to perform at the high standards set by DEFA regarding the development of the Cyprus natural gas market infrastructure.

The winning consortium is soon expected to be invited to Nicosia for the finalization of the process and the signing of the contracts with ETYFA (Natural Gas Infrastructure Company).

A number of consortiums featuring major companies active both in Europe and internationally participated in the tender process.

DEFA Chairman, Dr. Symeon Kassianides commented: “We are pleased to see the successful outcome of the process. Here at DEFA we believe that the future of the country is aligned with natural gas and we expect it to play a major role in the economic development of the country in years to come. The establishment of the natural gas market will boost the development of the whole energy and industry sectors of the Republic.”

Greek, Cypriot, Israeli officials seeking Italy’s East Med return

Greek, Cypriot and Israeli officials are working on details of a plan aiming to win back Rome’s support for the East Med pipeline, an ambitious 1,900-km pipeline to carry southeast Mediterranean natural gas from Israel to Europe via  Italy.

Efforts by Washington and Brussels to lure back Italy, whose coalition government has withdrawn the country’s support for the project, are pivotal.

Part of the overall diplomatic effort may be unveiled at an Athens energy summit today.

The Greek, Cypriot and Israeli energy ministers, Costis Hatzidakis, Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Yuval Steinitz, respectively, as well as US Assistant Secretary Francis Fannon, are taking part in the summit.

Fannon held successive meetings in Athens yesterday with Greece’s energy minister and the deputy foreign minister Konstantinos Fragogiannis. The East Med project’s promotion was a key subject of these meetings, especially Fannon’s talks with Hatzidakis, Greece’s energy minister.

Last May, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, heading Italy’s right-wing populist coalition, declared Rome does not want the East Med pipeline to land on Italian territory. Instead, he proposed the pipeline’s link to TAP, another gas pipeline project being developed to carry Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe, via Italy.

East Med is envisioned to primarily carry deposits from Cyprus’ recently discovered “Aphrodite” gas field and the Israeli-controlled block “Leviathan” along a route stretching from Israel to Europe, also via Italy.

In response to Italy’s stance, Israel now appears to favor an alternate route for East Med that would avoid ending up on the Italian coast. Experts regard this prospect as difficult but not impossible as the pipeline project is still at the planning stage. Greece and Cyprus prefer Italy’s incorporation into the pipeline route.



New effort for East Med agreement at Athens energy summit

Greek gas utility DEPA and Italian energy giant Edison, collaborating on a plan to develop the East Med pipeline, envisioned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli natural gas systems, are looking to take a crucial technical step ahead of construction.

Their YAFA Poseidon joint venture – spearheading the ambitious project, a 1,900-km pipeline stretch with an investment cost of between 6 and 7 billion euros – is gearing up for the launch of FEED (Front-End Engineering Design), environmental and detailed underwater research studies.

The European Commission has approved 34.5 million euros from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a funding instrument, for these studies. The CEF amount will cover half the cost of the aforementioned preliminary studies, which will push the plan ahead to a mature stage.

The pipeline project is planned to carry southeast Mediterranean natural gas, primarily deposits from Cyprus’ recently discovered “Aphrodite” gas field and the Israeli-controlled block “Leviathan”, along a route stretching from Israel to Europe.

An agreement between Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy, where the pipeline is planned to conclude, is still needed.

East Med plans have been at a standstill ever since the current Italian government announced it was stalling the project.

According to sources, the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli energy ministers will seek to restart procedures and also send out a message of encouragement to the Italian government when they meet at an Athens energy summit tomorrow. US Assistant Secretary Francis Fannon will also participate.

East Med, still at a theoretical stage, promises geostrategic might for Greece, Cyprus and Israel, as well as the USA, on southeast Mediterranean energy matters, especially against Turkey’s opposition to hydrocarbon exploration within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The pipeline plan also promises to break Russia’s dominance of gas supply to the EU.



Total seeking buyer for its 50% stake in Block 2, west of Corfu

French oil and gas multinational Total appears to be preparing to sell its 50 percent stake in an offshore license west of Corfu, Block 2, preferring instead to focus on other hydrocarbon interests in Greece, west and southwest of Crete.

Total, the operator of Corfu’s Block 2 license, established a consortium for this venture with Edison and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), each holding 25 percent stakes.

This license was signed in October, 2017 following the launch of a tender in 2014 that offered a total of 20 offshore blocks in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete.

Total is in partnership with US major ExxonMobil and ELPE for its licenses west and southwest of Crete.

Recent activity in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – an area in which Total has joined forces with Italy’s Eni to take on Block 7 – as well as developments in the wider eastern Mediterranean, has turned the French oil and gas giant’s attention to this region, sources told energypress.

Further changes are expected in the Greek market. ELPE is believed to be seeking partners for exploration and production licenses it has acquired alone.


Greek-Cypriot-Israeli energy summit highlights US interest

Washington’s supportive interest in the energy partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel has grown, driven by the prospect of hydrocarbon exploration in the southeast Mediterranean region as well as the East Med natural gas pipeline, planned to carry Cypriot, Israeli and, possibly, Egyptian natural gas to the EU via Greece and Italy.

Highlighting this interest, an upcoming Athens energy summit, scheduled to take place on August 6 and 7, comes as a US initiative, energypress sources informed.

It will follow a meeting just days ago, at the East Med Gas Forum in Egypt, that brought together Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis with his Cypriot and Israeli peers, Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Yuval Steinitz, respectively. In addition, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently met with Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades.

US Assistant Secretary Francis Fannon, head of the Bureau of Energy Sources, will also take part in the Athens energy summit. Fannon is scheduled to meet with Hatzidakis, Greece’s energy minister, and the country’s deputy foreign minister Konstantinos Fragogiannis on the eve of the event.

The summit highlights the US-fostered partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, united against escalating Turkish tension concerning offshore hydrocarbon exploration plans within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The event’s participants are also expected to discuss the East Med pipeline. An agreement between the three countries and Italy remains pending. Last spring, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte claimed he sees no benefits for Italy in the project, effectively bringing the country’s effort in the matter to a standstill.

Washington openly supports this natural gas pipeline as it promises to establish an alternative supply route to Europe that would restrict Moscow’s energy dominance on the continent, through Gazprom.

Sideline efforts are being made to alter Italy’s negative stance, sources informed. A message could be projected to Rome through the imminent Athens event.

Crete grid link urgent, minister stresses at Cyprus meeting

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a PCI-status grid interconnection to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems, is prepared to collaborate with Greek authorities for the development of the project’s Greek segment, to connect Crete with Athens, as long as Greece accepts a related road map set by the European Commission last October, sources have informed.

Essentially, this can be interpreted as a Cypriot demand for Greece to accept the project’s technical specifications that were rejected by Greek power grid operator IPTO and the previous Syriza government.

Last year’s road map includes all the technical, financial and interconnection details concerning the project’s three segments, linking Athens with Crete, Crete with Cyprus and Cyprus with Israel. Absolute compatibility is essential.

Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis, who met yesterday with Euroasia Interconnector’s top officials, emphasized the importance being placed by the newly elected conservative New Democracy government on the project’s swift development.

Fast progress will serve as the main criterion when determining action to be taken, Hatzidakis stressed at the meeting, in Nicosia, adding that, if possible, the support of EU funds would be a bonus. PCI projects are entitled to EU support funds.

IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector have been at odds for control over the development of the project’s Crete-Athens segment. It is needed urgently to prevent a looming energy shortage on Crete as of next year, when old units still operating on the island will need to be withdrawn to align the country with EU environmental policies.

Continuation of energy strategy minister’s guide at Cairo forum

Recently appointed energy minister Costis Hatzidakis will formally commence work on promoting Greece’s international energy relations at his first meetings abroad, today and tomorrow, at the East Med Gas Forum in Cairo.

The minister, in recent speeches, has already made clear his interest in supporting a national strategy shaped to bolster the country’s energy security, elevate its geopolitical role and fuel economic growth.

Strategic partnerships with Cyprus, the USA, Israel and Egypt will play a pivotal role in this effort.

Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority will all be represented at the Cairo forum.

Hatzidakis, Greece’s energy minister, is also expected to discuss energy partnerships and regional security with US energy secretary Rick Perry, who is in the Egyptian capital as part of a tour of the east Mediterranean.

Development of the submarine East Med gas pipeline, a project promising security and stability for the wider region, is a leading priority  for Greece.

On a wider level, the minister can be expected to carry on supporting a national strategy pursued over the past decade to establish Greece as a pivotal energy player in the region and key problem solver of regional energy partnership issues.

As for other major energy infrastructure projects, the new Greek government will continue to provide national support for the swift completion of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), planned to transport Caspian natural gas to Europe, and the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas grid interconnector. Other investment plans such as the Alexandroupoli FSRU and the Kavala underground gas storage facility will also keep receiving the support of Greece’s administration.

New EU warning for Turkey over Cyprus EEZ violations

The EU’s 28 are set to issue a new warning to Turkey today in response to the country’s illegal hydrocarbon exploration activities within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), diplomatic sources have informed.

EU governments are expected to vow to freeze negotiations over the modernization of the customs union between the bloc and Turkey, while reiterating that accession negotiations have come to a standstill.

The EU-28 will also signal that further escalation is possible, as the EU “stands ready to respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus,” if drilling activity continues.

The statement, due to be approved by the EU’s European affairs ministers today, is subject to ongoing deliberations between diplomats and the final wording may change.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday that he may demand EU sanctions against Turkey over drilling activities.

Ankara is disputing Nicosia’s EEZ rights as Cyprus prepares to drill at offshore gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has sent exploration vessels in the area, with Cyprus protesting a violation of its sovereignty.

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.



Three-way summit to support ambitious East Med project

The leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Israel are expected to unite for a joint statement in support of the East Med natural gas pipeline’s development as well as the reinforcement of regional energy security at a summit in Jerusalem this Wednesday, where they will be joined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The anticipated declaration by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his respective Cypriot and Israeli counterparts, Nicos Anastasiades and Benjamin Netanhyahu, will represent yet another step towards the development of East Med, promising a transportation route for regional natural gas to  EU markets.

Pompeo’s presence at the forthcoming three-way summit, combined with ExxonMobil’s recently declared intention to take part in a new round of Israeli tenders offering licenses, make clear Washington’s determination for a leading role in the Mediterranean.

Discoveries of major natural gas fields in the region and plans for EU-bound transportation routes have increased US interest.

However, many obstacles still lie ahead for the East Med pipeline. These include Italy’s step back as a result of objections expressed by Italy’s Five Star Movement, a member of the country’s far-right coalition. Italy’s environmental ministry has ordered a new environmental impact study for Italy’s Otranto seaside location, where East Med is planned to reach.

Greece, Cyprus and Israel now appear to be examining alternative East Med routes towards Europe, the most favorable option being North Macedonia.

Though Egypt expressed support for East Med last week, Cairo plans to utilize the country’s LNG terminals with the aim of exporting gas in liquefied form. This infrastructure would have an advantage over East Med.

East Med’s commercial feasibility is another concern. Quantities and customers still need to be assured.



East Med pipeline prospects bolstered by Egyptian support

Egypt’s constructive participation in talks for the development of the East Med natural gas pipeline, planned to carry Cypriot, Israeli and, possibly, Egyptian natural gas to the EU via Greece and Italy, has created favorable prospects for the realization of a project promising to play a pivotal role on the southeast Mediterranean energy map.

US support for the project and an effort by participating countries to ensure ExxonMobil’s involvement are also bolstering the East Med’s development prospects.

Last month, Egypt’s petroleum minister Tarek El-Molla had told Cyprus News Agency his country is not interested in participating in the East Med project with its Zohr natural gas deposit.

However, the Egyptian minister changed his tune yesterday at Ceraweek 2019, an international energy in Houston, Texas, noting Egypt will support the East Med project.

Quite clearly, Egypt is looking to establish yet another alternative supply route for its Zohr field, an enormous natural gas discovery, to major consumer markets of the west.

Prior to expressing support for East Med, El-Molla took part in a meeting with his Greek, Israeli and Cypriot counterparts – Giorgos Stathakis, Yuval Steinitz and Giorgos Lakkotrypis, respectively – and US energy under secretary Mark Menezes, at the Houston event.

All four officials confirmed their support for the East Med gas pipeline, according to a statement released by Greece’s energy ministry.

Stathakis, Greece’s energy minister, also held a separate meeting yesterday with ExxonMobil officials for talks on developments concerning the oil major’s hydrocarbon exploration interests at offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete – through a consortium established with Total and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) – and the East Med project, energypress sources informed.


Greek-Cypriot-Israeli deal for East Med pipeline likely this month

A three-way agreement between Greece, Cyprus and Israel for the development of the East Med natural gas pipeline, planned to carry Cypriot and Israeli natural gas to the EU via Greece and Italy, appears increasingly likely to be signed by the leaders of the three countries at a Tel Aviv summit scheduled for March 20.

A draft of the planned agreement is currently being fine-tuned in Brussels.

Despite the emergence of a growing number of reports contending an agreement is near, objections expressed by Italy’s Five Star Movement, a member of the country’s far-right coalition, could turn into a problem for the East Med pipeline plan.

Italy’s environmental ministry has ordered a new environmental impact study for Italy’s Otranto seaside location, where East Med is planned to reach. Incidentally, the TAP project to carry gas from Azerbaijan to the EU is also planned to reach this spot. The Five Star Movement has also raised environmental concerns over this project.

Lebanon is another country in the region opposing East Med as a result of its ongoing EEZ dispute with Israel. Turkey, not on good terms with Israel and unsettled by the evolving Israeli-Cypriot cooperation, also opposes the project. Cyprus is continuing its hydrocarbon exploration activities, adding to Turkey’s concerns.

Meanwhile, Greek energy minister Giorgos Stathakis arrived in Houston, Texas yesterday to take part in Ceraweek 2019, an international energy conference running until Friday.

Stathakis is scheduled to take part in a panel discussion tomorrow on east Mediterranean developments following recent natural gas discoveries by Cyprus and Israel. His Cypriot, Israeli and Egyptian counterparts will also join this panel.

Sideline talks, by these officials, on regional energy matters are expected.

Investors frustrated by license delays for Crete exploration

Contrary to Cyprus, providing oil majors investor-friendly conditions for their hydrocarbon exploration activities, ExxonMobil’s recent Glaucus-1 gas discovery emerging as a shining example, conditions in Greece are undermining the efforts of investors.

A consortium comprising Total, Exxon Mobil and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), established for hydrocarbon exploration work off Crete, has been held back by Greek government delays over the past few months.

Though most of the preliminary work has been completed, the trio of investors is still waiting for the Greek government to issue an exploration license, which would enable it to commence work at blocks off Crete.

An environmental impact study provided by the consortium for blocks west and southwest of Crete is said to have inexplicably fallen into stagnancy at one of the offices of the energy ministry’s environmental division over the past couple of months. It needs to be approved as part of the license issuing procedure.

Not surprisingly, investors are apparently making comparisons between sector operating conditions in Greece and Cyprus.

Exxon Mobil, Total and ELPE officials have all forwarded questions to energy minister Giorgos Stathakis’ office over the delay and been told not to worry.

“We’re excited but still waiting for the Greek government’s final approvals,” Tristan Aspray, Vice President of Exploration for Europe, Russia, and the Caspian, somewhat frustrated, recently remarked.


Three-way East Med gas pipeline deal reached, US keen

The leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Israel have reached an agreement to develop the East Med natural gas pipeline, planned to carry enormous southeast Mediterranean natural gas deposits to the EU via Greece. They met today at the Israeli city Beersheba for a fifth summit on the issue.

The project’s development plan still needs to be endorsed by the European Commission before a final agreement is signed by the three countries. This is expected in the the first quarter of 2019.

The European Commission has already received the project’s details and is expected to offer its approval early in 2019.

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, joined by energy minister Giorgos Stathakis for the Israel trip, and the respective leaders of Cyprus and Israel, Nicos Anastasiades and Benjamin Netanyahu, are scheduled to sign related memorandums later in the day.

In the lead-up to today’s session, diplomats had described the meeting as one of the last pre-construction steps for the East Med project.

A disputed electricity grid interconnection project involving the three countries has not been included on today’s agenda. Greek authorities awarded Ariadne Interconnector, an SPV established by Greek power grid operator IPTO, control of the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli project’s Crete-Athens segment, despite European Commission objections.

Brussels favors Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli project, for control of its Crete-Athens segment.

The East Med natural gas pipeline, whose cost has been estimated at 7 billion dollars, promises to be the world’s biggest submarine pipeline – in terms of length and depth.

The US has showed increased support for the project in recent times. US involvement in the project has not been excluded.

An annual gas transmission objective of 20 bcm has been set for East Med. EU natural gas needs have been forecast to reach 100 bcm in 2030.

RAE to reiterate Crete project link commitments to all parties involved

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, intends to reiterate and seek reconfirmation of commitments taken on by all parties involved in the delayed Crete-Athens grid interconnection’s development via a letter to be forwarded to all, sources have informed. The move is seen as a counterattack following criticism by Brussels officials.

Besides Euroasia Interconnector – a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids – Greece’s power grid operator IPTO and its Cypriot counterpart, RAE will also forward copies of the letter to the European Commission and Greece’s energy ministry, for their information.

A dispute between IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector for control over the wider project’s Greek segment has prompted delays.

According to sources, Euroasia Interconnector and the Cypriot power grid operator, in a letter to RAE, recently named their representatives for a committee being assembled to work on ensuring the technical compatibility of the Greek section with the overall grid interconnection project’s Crete-Cyprus and Cyprus-Israel segments. RAE intends to soon name the committee’s Greek representatives, sources informed.

RAE, in its letter, will also highlight the need for the local interconnection project’s swift progress so as to prevent an energy shortage threat on Crete as of 2020 due to EU-required closures of outdated diesel-fired power stations still operating on the island.

Euroasia Interconnector has been granted a deadline extension until the end of the year to present capital needed for its participation in Ariadne, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) established by IPTO for the project’s Greek segment, RAE is expected to remind in its letter.

RAE’s overall handling of the matter does not contravene EU regulations or threaten the project’s PCI status, the authority contends.


ExxonMobil drillship nearing for Cyprus venture amid heightened tension

US energy giant ExxonMobil, in a collaborative effort with Qatar Petroleum, is preparing to launch exploratory drills at Block 10 in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) amid heightened military activity in the region.

Hydrocarbon experts have increased the likelihood of Block 10, southwest of Cyprus, carrying significant reserves.

An ExxonMobil drillship, Stena Icemax, capable of drilling in water depth up to 3,000 meters, embarked on its cross-Atlantic journey on October 29 and is reportedly scheduled to arrive at Limassol port on November 12, where personnel for the drilling venture will board the vessel before it heads out to Block 10 to commence work.

A Navtex international automated warning system, whose applications include global maritime distress safety, has been programmed by Cyprus to monitor parts of the island nation’s EEZ areas concerning the upcoming drills.

Turkey has heightened its mobilization in the wider region, suggesting it will bargain hard to promote its hydrocarbon interests in the wider Middle East region.

Less than a fortnight ago, Turkish naval forces accompanied the neighboring country’s Barbaros survey vessel within Cypriot EEZ territory and, in addition, have also joined the Turkish drillship Porthitis (Fatih) for deep-sea drilling operations north of Cyprus, reported to have begun.

The upcoming exploration work and possible hydrocarbon production in the Cypriot EEZ could change the Cypriot balance. The Turkish occupation of the island’s north has prevented Cyprus from utilizing its natural wealth since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.

Greece proposes corresponding Cypriot SPV for needed grid link

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, responding to a Cypriot appeal for Greece to not stand as an obstacle in the island nation’s effort to end its energy isolation, has proposed that Cyprus establish an SPV of its own for swifter development of the Crete-Cyprus segment of a wider interconnection plan aiming to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids.

Despite European Commission objections, RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, has remained adamant about its decision to place an SPV named Ariadne, a Greek power grid operator IPTO subsidiary, at the helm of the Crete-Athens segment’s development.

IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider Greek, Cypriot and Israeli PCI-status interconnection plan, have fought for control over the Crete-Athens segment, creating a Greek-Cypriot dispute.

Cyprus fears the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli interconnection plan could be brought to the ground by the dispute, which would end the island nation’s aspirations for an electricity market interconnection with Greece and, by extension, other European energy markets.

Stathakis, Greece’s energy minister, contends the Greek SPV does not breach any regulations or agreements as all parties involved have already agreed on IPTO holding a stake of at least 51 percent in the company to develop the Athens-Crete link.

He supports that a corresponding Cypriot SPV controlling the Crete-Cyprus segment would lead to swifter progress for both the Crete-Cyprus and Crete-Athens segments of the wider project and end the island nation’s energy isolation.



Athens-Crete grid link issues a ‘concern’ for Cypriot interconnection

Cypriot energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis has urged his Greek counterpart Giorgos Stathakis to support action that would ensure Greece’s energy-related support for Cyprus and prevent the island nation’s isolation in this sector.

Lakkotrypis, who expressed his appeal in a letter forwarded to the Greek energy minister following meetings and telephone discussions, is pushing for a solution that would resolve a dispute between Greek power grid operator IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete. The two sides have fought for control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment.

The wider project’s development is crucial for EU plans aiming to interconnect the Greek and Cypriot electricity markets and, by extension, the Cypriot and European markets.


IPTO OKs technical committee for Crete link, wants swift action

Power grid operator IPTO will accept the establishment of a technical committee for a supervisory role concerning compatibility between the Crete-Athens grid interconnection and a wider PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete, but wants this committee to have delivered its final decisions by November 30 for avoidance of further delays to the Crete-Athens segment.

The Crete-Athens interconnection, ready for development in terms of technology and financing, according to IPTO, is crucial to ensure power sufficiency on Crete as of 2020.

IPTO is expected to present a full plan at a meeting in Brussels today to focus on compatibility issues concerning the Crete-Athens segment and the wider Greece-Cyprus-Israel grid interconnection.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, recently named the SPV “Ariadne Interconnection”, an IPTO subsidiary, the Crete-Athens link’s project promoter. Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, heads the wider Greece-Cyprus-Israel interconnection project. IPTO and Euroasia have fought for control of the Crete-Athens link segment.

The Greek and Cypriot regulatory authorities for energy, Greek and Cypriot government officials, as well as representatives of IPTO, Euroasia Interconnector, ACER, Europe’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, and Belgian operator Elia, are all expected to take part at today’s meeting.

PCI talks for Crete-Athens link rivals at meeting next week

The European Commission’s division for Projects of Common Interest has summoned officials representing all parties involved in a dispute for control of an Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection plan to a Brussels meeting next week to examine whether this project can retain its PCI status and, if so, under what conditions.

The Crete-Athens link is part of the wider Euroasia Interconnector, a PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete.

Greek power grid operator IPTO and Cyprus’s Euroasia Interconnector consortium have been locked in a dispute for control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens link.

The Greek and Cypriot energy ministries and regulatory authorities for energy, as well as Belgian electricity transmission system operator Elia, given an intermediary role by Brussels for the dispute, have been invited to next week’s meeting.

Brussels called next week’s meeting in response to a recent decision by RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, handing IPTO the task of establishing a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the development of Crete’s urgently needed interconnection with Athens as a venture in which the operator will hold a 51 percent stake and other shareholders – the Euroasia Interconnector consortium has priority rights – will be offered 39 percent with an option for a further 10 percent.

The RAE initiative does not contravene the terms of a MoU signed by IPTO and the Euroasia Interconnector consortium and provides the consortium with an opportunity to participate in the Crete-Athens interconnection project, Greek energy ministry officials have supported in comments offered to energypress.

Crete faces a looming energy sufficiency threat as of 2020 because an exemption to EU law concerning power station emission limits for local high-polluting units, such as those operating on Crete, ends in December, 2019. A number of power stations on the island will need to be withdrawn.

ACER complaint on Crete-Athens link backs Brussels, project in limbo

Just days after objections were raised by the European Commission, ACER, Europe’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, has also expressed its disapproval of a decision by RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, giving power grid operator IPTO permission to establish a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for financing and development control of Crete’s urgently needed major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens.

ACER, which made clear its discontent – and astonishment – in a letter forwarded to RAE, described the authority’s initiative as a “unilateral move”, energypress sources informed. RAE has yet to respond.

The Crete-Athens interconnection project’s future now appears to be in limbo as this second intervention by a European institution adds further weight to the European Commission’s insinuation that the link would cease to enjoy PCI status and subsequent EU backing if the RAE decision is upheld.

Brussels reacted to the RAE move by noting the authority cannot award Crete’s major-scale interconnection with Athens to any party until the end of the year, the time period given to Euroasia Interconnector – a consortium of Cypriot interests responsible for a wider project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids – to decide if it will utilize a right offered for a 39 percent stake, or less, in the venture to develop the Crete-Athens link.

Compatibility concerns have already been raised about four transformers to be installed in the wider Athens area, Crete, Cyprus and Israel for the Euroasia Interconnector.

Also, Cypriot officials, in comments to energypress, cited the emergence of a national issue as Cyprus now finds itself detached from the EU – regarding the project – as a result of the RAE move at a time when the island’s Turkish-occupied northeast is seeking a power grid interconnection with Turkey.