Work on Crete-Athens grid link nears launch after approvals

The Court of Auditors has approved contracts offered to winning bidders for installation of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection’s four cable segments, enabling the signing of contracts for the one billion-euro project’s biggest stage, budgeted at 615 million euros, probably within the month, energypress sources have informed. Work will then be able to commence.

Prysmian, Nexans and Hellenic Cables-NKT were awarded contracts for the project’s four cable segments. Prysmian secured two of these four contracts.

On another front, the Court of Auditors is expected to approve a contract for the project’s other key stage, the design, supply and installation of two converters and a substation, in June, according to sources.

Siemens – Terna, a member of the GEK TERNA group, submitted an improved bid of 370 million euros late last month to be awarded this contract by power grid operator IPTO’s fully-owned subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, the project promoter.

The Court of Auditors’ approval of contracts for the project’s four cable segments follows a recent decision by the environment and energy ministry endorsing the 1,000-MW project’s environmental terms.

EU funding for the project through the NSRF (2014 – 2020) is expected to be approved within the next week to ten days, according to reliable sources. This would subsequently also offer IPTO access to bank financing.

Crete link environmental terms, needed for contracts, soon

The energy ministry will publish the environmental terms for Crete’s major-scale grid interconnection with Athens, needed for project contracts, within the first ten days or March, power grid operator IPTO, the project’s promoter, anticipates.

The delivery of these terms will enable the winning bidders for the project’s cable installations, Prysmian, Nexans and Hellenic Cables – NKT, to sign project contracts with the operator, probably two to three weeks later, somewhere between late March and early April.

Meanwhile, appraisals of offers submitted by bidders for project converter stations are believed to be nearing completion. Two consortiums, Terna-Siemens and Mytilineos-General Electric-Nari have submitted offers to the tender for converter stations.

Construction of the major-scale grid interconnection, from Crete to Athens, will be able to commence once the cable and converter station contracts have been signed.

IPTO insists the project will be fully operational in 2023.

Work on Crete’s small-scale grid interconnection with the mainland, from Crete to the southern Peloponnese, is progressing as scheduled, IPTO has informed.

The installation of this segment’s submarine cables, awarded to Prysmian and Hellenic Cables, is scheduled to be completed around November, according to IPTO’s schedule.

This segment involves deep-sea cable installation work at more than 1,000 meters below sea level, an effort said to be unprecedented anywhere in the world.

Swift solution needed for Crete link project’s local resistance

The energy ministry is working to overcome resistance raised by regional authorities in Crete against the installation of a converter station needed for a submarine electricity grid interconnection project to link the island with Athens.

Cretan regional authorities have delivered a negative report on a plan by power grid operator IPTO, the project’s promoter, to install a converter station at Damasta in the Heraklion province.

The ministry needs to resolve the issue in order to issue an environmental permit for the interconnection project. The project’s completion target of 2023 could be threatened if this issue is not swiftly resolved.

A new round of talks involving top-ranked officials at the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and Cretan regional authorities could be held during the current week. Alternative solutions and offsetting measures that would compensate locals for any negative impact caused by the project are expected to be discussed.

IPTO appears set to sign an agreement with Prysmian, Nexans and Hellenic Cables – NKT, the winning bidders in a tender for the project’s cables. However, the pending environmental permit is needed.

Technical aspects of bids submitted to another project tender concerning two other converter stations and a substation are currently being assessed. Two consortiums, Terna – Siemens and Mytilineos – General Electric – Nari submitted bids for this tender.

Its next stage, an assessment of financial offers submitted by the aforementioned participants, will be made early in the year, Ariadne, an IPTO subsidiary formed for the Cretan interconnection project, has informed.

Crete link tender deadline for cables expires today

The deadline of a tender for the engineering, procurement and installation of underwater cable systems (2 x 500 MW) concerning the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection expires today following two extensions.

An initial July 22 deadline was extended to July 29 before being stretched further to August 5. These successive deadline extensions sparked rumors of possible revisions concerning the 330-km long project.

Power grid operator IPTO, whose subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection is staging the tender, has ruled out the possibility of any further extension.

IPTO is determined to make clear that the tender is pressing ahead despite efforts by Cypriot consortium Euroasia Interconnector aiming to block the procedure.

Euroasia Interconnector, heading a wider PCI-status project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids, is at odds with IPTO for control of the Crete-Athens segment’s development.

Euroasia Interconnector took fresh legal action last week against IPTO and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, which, if successful, could prompt further tender delays.

The Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection is urgently needed to prevent a looming energy shortage on the island, Greece’s largest. Outdated diesel-fueled power stations operating on the island need to be withdrawn to meet EU environmental regulations.

The Cretan grid interconnection project is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

Italy’s Prysmian and France’s Nexans, both leading companies in the field, have shown interest in the tender.