Lender representatives visiting Athens in a pre-election mood

Pending energy market reforms, including privatizations, PPC’s disinvestment of lignite units, and other market liberalization measures, will be discussed between government officials and the country’s lender representatives, visiting Athens to begin a post-bailout review this week.

Long-term decisions on various matters will most likely need to be made following Greece’s elections, due in autumn, once the political climate has settled. This delay, though, could end up prompting tougher demands by the lenders, including the European Commission.

PPC’s sale of lignite units, relaunched following a failed previous effort, is expected to dominate the talks. The disinvestment’s deadline for binding bids has been extended to May 28, which virtually coincides with the European elections, making the prospect of the sale procedure’s punctuality uncertain.

The lenders are expected to push for financial restructuring measures at state-controlled PPC, which has just posted disappointing results for 2018. Some of these measures will entail political cost.

The lender representatives will also push for decisions on slow-moving energy-sector privatizations. The sale procedure for gas utility DEPA has fallen behind schedule while uncertainties have crept into the the ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) privatization.

The target model as well as Crete’s urgently-needed electricity grid interconnection with Athens will also be on the agenda. The latter has led to a control-related dispute between Greek power grid operator IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project.

RAE green light for IPTO’s Crete link expected

RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, is believed to be preparing to give power grid operator IPTO the green light to announce a tender for the construction of the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection, regardless of whether the project makes the European Commission’s PCI list.

Control of the Crete-Athens link has been disputed between IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project.

RAE’s board will today examine various details concerning the Crete-Athens project, budgeted at one billion euros, energypress sources have informed.

On April 12, Greece’s energy ministry notified Brussels that Greece was withdrawing its support of the Crete-Athens link as a PCI-status project, which effectively transforms it into a national project.

RAE could soon forward a letter to IPTO encouraging it to announce the tender’s terms by assuring the operator that the project’s still-valid PCI status does not impact procedures, the same sources added.

If RAE forwards its anticipated approval enabling the commencement of the project’s procedures and no other delays emerge, then the project should be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022, as is scheduled, IPTO sources noted.



IPTO board to visit SGCC heads in Beijing for results presentation

The administration of IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, has scheduled to visit Beijing next week to present to the leaders of State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), the operator’s strategic partner, IPTO’s latest and yet-to-be-released financial results as well as a business growth plan. SGCC acquired a 24 percent stake in IPTO last year.

According to sources, IPTO’s results, to be released within the next few days, will be better than expected, a prospect that will surely please the operator’s Chinese partner.

Meanwhile, the operator is waiting for a decision, any day now, from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on new tariffs, to apply for a four-year period.

IPTO is bolstering its position through the development of new interconnections, planned to follow the first phase of the Cyclades interconnection.

The second phase of the Cyclades interconnection with the mainland is expected to be completed in early 2019. A third phase is planned to be completed by the end of 2020, while a fourth phase is set to be added to the operator’s ten-year business plan covering 2019 to 2028.

An international tender for the first phase of the Cretan interconnection, a small-scale connection to link Crete and the Peloponnese, is expected to be announced within the next few days. Talks with the EuroAsia consortium for the establishment of a partnership for development of the second phase of the Cretan interconnection, to link Athens with Crete, are in progress.

The Cretan interconnection is planned to be incorporated into the prospective EuroAsia project, which will link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids.

IPTO, EuroAsia in advanced Crete interconnection talks

IPTO, the power grid operator, and the EuroAsia consortium, behind an ambitious project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids, have reached an advanced stage in talks aiming to strike a deal for the co-development of the major-scale Cretan interconnection, to link the island with Athens.

A smaller-scale Cretan interconnection, running from Crete to the Peloponnese, has already been included in IPTO’s binding ten-year development plan covering 2018 to 2027 and received approval from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy. Its completion date has been set for 2020.

The larger Cretan interconnection has been listed, by IPTO, as a project that could be completed by 2024. The EuroAsia consortium foresees its completion by 2020. A 2022 completion date is likely to be set if the two sides reach an agreement. This is deemed as a feasible target date as the project has already been classified as a Project of Common Interest (PCI), enabling EU funding.

RAE is applying pressure for the major-scale Cretan interconnection’s swifter development. The authority has given IPTO and EuroAsia until the end of April to complete their negotiations.

The revised ten-year plan will be a binding commitment, meaning that both IPTO and the EuroAsia consortium would face penalties for a delayed completion of the major-scale Cretan interconnection.

IPTO and the EuroAsia consortium have joined forces as part of an effort associate the Cretan interconnection with the grander Euroasia Interconnector, also on the EU’s PCI list.

The EuroAsia interconnection’s section linking Israel and Cyprus is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Its Cyprus to Crete section is planned to be developed between this coming October until the end of 2022.



Communications cable alongside EuroAsia Interconnector

An agreement has been reached for the installation of a submarine communications cable system (Quantum Cable) to connect Greece, Cyprus and Israel. It will run parallel to the EuroAsia Interconnector, planned to link the power grids of the three countries.

It has just been revealed that a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed last week in Nicosia between Quantum Cable and a leading global sector player based in the US for the communications cable system’s installation.

This subsea ultra-fast cable system will be installed at a depth of more than 3,000 meters. Its overall development cost is expected to reach approximately 200 million dollars and will be undertaken by the Quantum Cable firm.

Nasos Ktorides, who heads both Quantum Cable and the EuroAsia Interconnector consortium, formed to develop a 2,000-MW electricity interconnection, noted that the Quantum Cable submarine communications cable system will offer considerable capacity to handle tens of millions of concurrent high-resolution teleconferences between Asia and Europe.

A simultaneous launch for the two projects is being planned, which would greatly reduce the development costs of both.

Ktorides noted that the fiber-optic cable connection will also play a supportive role for the growing demand in high-speed connections, Cloud, data center and electronic services between Asia and Europe.

Last June, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Israeli and Cypriot counterparts, Benjamin Netanyahu and Nicos Anastasiades, respectively, agreed to support the development of the undersea cable, whose broader scale is seen as a vital link between Europe, the Middle East and Asia.




Minister heading to Nicosia for EuroAfrica Interconnector

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis is scheduled to attend a trilateral meeting in Nicosia next Tuesday where Greek, Cypriot and Egyptian officials will discuss the development of the EuroAfrica Interconnector, a 2,000-MW submarine cable project planned to link the electricity networks of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt with the European system.

Next week’s meeting comes follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Egyptian electricity company EEHC in Cairo last February.

The ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus, as well as top officials from Egypt’s electricity and energy ministry, attended February’s signing ceremony, during which Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi expressed personal interest for the interconnection project’s development.

The EuroAfrica Interconnector promises to provide considerable economic and geopolitical benefits to the countries involved, Greek, Cypriot and Egyptian officials have pointed out.

Sector experts will also attend next Tueday’s meeting to offer their views on the project’s prospects and sustainability, and also present the results of studies called for by the MoU.

If officials reach a consensus on the findings, prospects and sustainability, then procedures leading to the project’s actualization are expected to gain momentum.

According to initial estimates, the interconnection project will require 36 months to develop once all related studies have been completed.

Greece is also involved in another prospective international interconnection project, the EuroAsia Interconnector, along with Cyprus and Israel.

Development of both projects promises to establish Cyprus as a hub linking the electricity networks of three continents.

According to reports, a further extension of the EuroAfrica Interconnector, to incorporate other African and Middle East countries, is also being looked at. Such a prospect would greatly increase the significance of both projects and their combined role in the transmission of electricity from various sources to Europe’s network.


Euroasia Interconnector, Crete link association discussed

Terna Energy and the Copelouzos group are engaged in talks with Euroasia Interconector and IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, in an effort to co-develop Crete’s interconnection with the Greek mainland.

An effort is being made to associate the Cretan interconnection with the grander Euroasia Interconnector, an ambitious project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids. The Euroasia Interconnector has already been classified as a Project of Common Interest (PCI), enabling EU funding.

In March, Terna Energy and the Copelouzos group decided to merge two major wind farm projects planned for Crete so as to facilitate financing procedures stemming from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), commonly refered to as the “Juncker package”.

The two companies plan to co-develop wind farm projects with a total capacity of 950 MW in all four Cretan prefectures. Terna Energy and the Copelouzos group have also joined forces for the island’s interconnection with the mainland, a 320-kilometer submarine crossing whose development is planned to commence in 2019. This project’s budget is worth 2.4 billion euros.

Terna Energy company officials told a general shareholders’ meeting yesterday that the project’s licensing procedure is not easy as local authorities have raised objections, adding that the company is working on issues together with regional Cretan authorities.

On a visit to Israel earlier this month, Greece’s Digital Policy, Media and Telecommunications Minister Nikos Pappas proposed that the Euroasia Interconnector, to cover 1,519 kilometers, include a fiber optics connection between Israel and Greece.

An agreement between Greece’s main power utility PPC and China’s SGCC (State Grid Corporation of China) for the latter’s acquisition of a 24 percent stake in the power grid operator IPTO, a PPC subsidiary, is expected to provide further financial support for the Euroasia Interconnector. The prospect was discussed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during his recent visit to China.

A consortium comprised of PPC and Quantum Energy, Israel’s Electric Corporation, is participating in the Euroasia Interconnector project, planned to have a 2,000-MW capacity and be installed at depths of as much as 2,000 meters. Its budget is estimated at 1.5 billion euros.

An EU-supported detailed preliminary study concerning the interconnection’s first stage, offering a 1,000-MW capacity, is planned to begin this June. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a key EU funding instrument supporting trans-European networks and infrastructures in the sectors of transport, telecommunications and energy, will fund half the first stage’s cost, whose total is worth 29 million euros.

Euroasia Interconnector the next major energy challenge after TAP

Development of the Euroasia Interconnector, a prospective energy project that promises to bridge the eastern Mediterranean region, remove Cyprus from its power isolation, and also link the region’s rich energy deposits with European markets, stands as Greece’s next major challenge following the recent official launch of work for the local segment of TAP, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, to carry Azeri natural gas to Europe via Greece’s north.

Speaking at the TAP work launch ceremony in Thessaloniki jusy days ago, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras linked the natural gas pipeline project with Greece’s economic prospects.

The proposed Euroasia Interconector, envisioned to link Greek, Cyptiot and Israeli power grids via an extensive submarine power cable via Crete, was at the core of three-way talks in Nicosia in January between Tsipras and his Cypriot and Israeli peers, Nikos Anastasiadis and Benjamin Netanyahu, respectively.

The three leaders signed a declaration during that meeting pledging support for energy networks that will bolster security for their counries and the region. It was also agreed to establish a special committee to be charged with promoting the common energy-related goals of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel.

To measure 1,500 kilometers in length and offer a 2,000 MW capacity, the Euroasia Interconector is planned to be divided into three segments, one linking Israel and Cyprus, the other Cyprus and Crete, and a third section interconnecting Crete with the wider Athens area in the Greek mainland.

The project’s Crete-Athens interconnection does not contravene or eliminate a plan for a smaller interconnection being planned by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, to offer needed support for Crete’s insufficient and high-cost electricity system. As a result, old petrol-fueled power stations on the island will be withdrawn from use.

Development of the Euroasia Interconector’s submarine power cable linking Cyprus and Israel could begin in 2017 and be completed by 2019. The Cyprus-Crete segment’s interconnection could by fully operational by 2022.

The project’s technical and environmental studies are being conducted by Italy’s CESI. Required marine studies are nearing completion. The Euroasia Interconector will be developed by Euroasia Interconector Limited, the consortium formed for the project, which has been classified as a Project of Common Interest (PCI) by the European Commission, enabling EU funding. The Greek State and IPTO will not need to contribute to the project’s financing.