Crete link tender designed to overcome any legal complications

A tender being prepared by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for Crete’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens will include terms ensuring the prevention of any legal complications for the procedure, regardless of whether the project will be developed as a national or PCI-status project.

RAE officials have ascertained decisions will soon be reached so that the tender may be launched within May.

The Crete-Athens interconnection is still part of the EU’s PCI list as it was initially incorporated into a wider PCI-status interconnection involving the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems. However, Greece’s power grid operator IPTO withdrew the Crete-Athens segment as a result of a dispute with Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider project, for control of the local segment.

IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis disclosed yesterday that the operator will seek EU structural funds as it views the Crete-Athens as a national project.

Ariadne Interconnection, a special purpose vehicle established by IPTO for the project, is set to submit an application for EU structural funds, Manousakis noted. The official said he is confident of a favorable response from EU authorities as the Crete-Athens link is a project of major importance for the national economy and will ensure long-term energy security for Crete.

An updated PCI list will be finalized in autumn. Until then, the Crete-Athens link will remain a part of the current PCI catalog. Athens officially informed Brussels of its decision to remove the wider interconnection’s Greek segment on April 12.

The Crete-Athens link will be developed as planned and completed within the final quarter of 2022 if no other delays emerge and the tender is launched this month, IPTO officials have noted.

 

 

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.

 

 

Engie, Terna, Energean join for underground gas storage facility

Three major firms, each specializing in its own respective field, have formed a consortium to seek a contract to develop and operate a depleted natural gas field in northern’s Greece’s offshore South Kavala region as an underground gas storage facility, energypress sources have informed.

Storengy, belonging to France’s Engie group, Energean Oil & Gas, holder of a license for the South Kavala field, and technical firm Gek Terna are the three players joining forces for this contract, to be offered through a tender being prepared by the privatization fund TAIPED.

Greece remains the only country European country without an underground gas storage facility. All others maintain storage facilities covering over 20 percent of their annual natural gas consumption needs. At present, many countries in Europe are planning to develop additional such projects over the next five years.

Underground gas storage facilities play a key role in subduing carbon emissions as a result of the flexibility they offer to renewable energy sources.

Consortium member Storengy is Europe’s biggest developer and operator of underground gas storage facilities. It currently operates 21 such facilities of all types on the continent.

Offering a capacity of between 360 and 720 million cubic meters, or 10 percent of annual natural gas consumption in Greece, the South Kavala underground gas storage facility will require an investment of between 300 and 400 million euros to develop. The project has been granted PCI status by the European Commission, enabling EU funding support.

 

Euroasia legal action ‘will not delay’ Crete interconnection

Legal action allegedly taken by Euroasia Interconnector against RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, for its decision to grant the power grid operator IPTO control of the development of the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection will not affect the project’s progress, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has told reporters when asked to comment.

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, heads a wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project. IPTO has taken control of the project’s Crete-Athens segment and established an SPV subsidiary, Ariadne Interconnector, for its development.

Euroasia Interconnector has apparently filed a case against RAE at a Greek court and also submitted an official complaint to the European Commission for infringement of PCI regulations, according to reports. This latter move could pave the way for a  European Court hearing.

RAE has not been informed of any legal action taken by Euroasia Interconnector, officials at the regulatory authority contended.

 

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.

Crete link national development ‘will not burden consumers’

A separation of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project from the wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli interconnection, appearing highly likely, will not financially burden Greek consumers but instead offer surcharge-related benefits, leading energy ministry officials told energypress on the sidelines of the just-completed Delphi Economic Forum.

Swift development of the Crete-Athens link, as a national project, promises to spare consumers of public service compensation (YKO) surcharges costing approximately 400 million euros per year, energy ministry officials stressed.

These YKO surcharges are added to electricity bills to cover high-cost electricity production at power facilities maintained on non-interconnected islands.

The Crete-Athens grid will cost the country roughly one billion euros to develop, regardless of the development option chosen, the energy ministry officials supported.

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli project, has claimed a withdrawal of the Crete-Athens grid project from the consortium for development as a national project would deprive Greece of EU funding worth 355 million euros from the CEF (Connecting Europe Facility).

Electricity consumers in Greece will need to cover this amount through increased network surcharges over the long term, the Euroasia Interconnector consortium has warned.

The Delphi Economic Forum was held to identify and assess global trends and their impact on decision makers of the wider eastern Mediterranean region.

RAE requests more IPTO details on Crete link project to set WACC figure

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has requested additional data from power grid operator IPTO to determine the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) and regulated yield for Ariadne, an SPV established by the operator to develop the Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

Moves are also being made to recategorize the Crete-Athens link as a national project rather than a segment of the wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project, as has been the case until now.

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider project, has just warned that the loss of the Crete-Athens segment’s PCI status will prove costly for Greek consumers.

IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector have been at odds for control of the wider grid interconnection’s Crete-Athens segment.

Details requested by RAE from IPTO include a precise budget figure for the Crete-Athens link’s total construction cost as well as specific completion and electrification dates.

Until now, IPTO has provided a construction cost figure of 996.4 million euros, not including support and extraordinary costs. A Grant Thorton study has budgeted the project at 1.1 billion euros. Also, a 2022 completion date has been provided but RAE wants the exact month declared.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has set a February 28 deadline for Euroasia Interconnector to recognize IPTO’s Ariadne as the sole project promoter for the Crete-Athens segment.

Euroasia Interconnector is not expected to accept. If so, RAE, immediately following the February 28 deadline, will award the Crete-Athens project to Ariadne as a national project included in IPTO’s investment program.

 

 

IPTO to keep over 51% of SPV for Crete grid interconnection

Power grid operator IPTO has finalized a plan for a tender to seek strategic investors for Ariadne Interconnector, its SPV established by the operator to develop the Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

The IPTO plan is expected to be submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, within the next few days for approval. This could take some time as the grid interconnection, crucial for Crete’s energy needs, will now be categorized as a national project and no longer be part of the wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project.

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider project, has been embroiled in a dispute with IPTO for control of the Crete-Athens segment.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has set a February 28 deadline for Euroasia Interconnector to recognize IPTO’s Ariadne as the sole project promoter for the Crete-Athens segment.

Euroasia Interconnector is not expected to accept. If so, RAE, immediately following the February 28 deadline, will award the Crete-Athens project to Ariadne as a national project and a tender for strategic investors should be announced soon after.

Investors are expected to be offered less than a 49 percent stake of the Ariadne Interconnector SPV, the most likely share being 39 percent, the corresponding stake offered to Euroasia Interconnector amid the dispute.

Ariadne is expected to sign a concession agreement for the project’s development. The SPV will hand over the completed project to IPTO and then be compensated through commission fees generated by the project’s utilization.

Euroasia Interconnector is expected to react and demand either a financial sum or a percentage of the project as compensation covering project study costs and other preliminary work.

 

 

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.

 

 

IPTO, RAE negotiating WACC rate for disputed Crete link

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is negotiating an official WACC figure with Greek power grid operator IPTO, for the Crete-Athens section of the wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project, headed by Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests.

A 7.3 percent investment yield rate for the project’s Crete-Athens segment previously agreed to by the Greek and Cypriot authorities for energy was only indicative and remains unofficial.

IPTO, granted control by RAE of the Crete-Athens segment, is pushing for a considerably higher WACC rate but RAE insists the figure should be set at a lower level, energypress sources have informed.

The setting of a WACC figure is a crucial step for the development of the Crete-Athens link, needed to prevent an energy shortage threat on Crete as of 2020.

However, an ongoing dispute between the Greek and Cypriot sides for control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment is complicating matters.

Euroasia Interconnector has refused to acknowledge the legality of RAE’s decision to appoint IPTO project promoter of the Crete-Athens section. This was made clear, yet again, in a January 18 letter forwarded by the Cypriot consortium to related authorities on both sides of the dispute as well as the European Commission,  expressing the consortium’s refusal to appoint a representative for a technical interoperability committee demanded by Brussels as a supervisory body for the wider PCI project’s compatibility.

Four days earlier, RAE had asked Euroasia Interconnector to appoint a representative for this technical committee by the January 18 date. Instead, in its letter, Euroasia Interconnector described the initiatives taken by RAE as illegal and called for the Greek energy authority to honor commitments set in a road map endorsed by Brussels for the wider PCI project.

 

IPTO aiming for Crete-Athens link tender within February

Ariadne Interconnector, Greek power grid operator IPTO’s subsidiary established as an SPV for the development of the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection, expects to be ready to launch a tender covering all the project’s segments by the end of February, IPTO officials have informed.

Meanwhile, Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium regarding the Crete-Athens link as part of a wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project, which it is heading, yesterday finalized its shortlist of candidates for a tender of its own.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, appointed IPTO as the project promoter of the Crete-Athens section without approval from Brussels.

It remains to be seen if the Crete-Athens link will retain its PCI status given the dispute between IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector for control of the Crete-Athens segment.

The Greek side appears determined to pursue the Crete-Athens grid link alone as a national project, without third-party endorsements, including from the European Commission.

As the Greek energy ministry sees it, a two-year delay of the project has now been certified as Euroasia Interconnector failed to officially intervene by December 31. According to the ministry, this delay permits  RAE to handle the Crete-Athens grid link as a national project and, if needed, seek its addition onto the new PCI list, facilitating EU funds.

All is still vague, however, as the European Commission has acknowledged that RAE’s decision to place IPTO at the helm of the Crete-Athens grid link project has caused problems for the wider project’s promoter.

Euroasia deadline for Crete link’s 39% right expires today

A pre-emption right granted to Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project, for a 39 percent stake in Ariadne Interconnector, an SPV established by Greek power grid operator IPTO for the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment, expires today.

The Cypriot consortium is not expected to emerge and accept this first option to acquire the SPV’s 39 percent as it doubts decisions taken by RAE, the the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to endorse Ariadne Interconnector and will continue its preliminary work viewing the grid interconnection project as a whole, sources noted.

At the other end, IPTO is making moves to prepare for the construction of the interconnection’s Crete-Athens segment, planned to run from Korakia, on Crete’s northern coast.

The two entities have fought for control of the Crete-Athens segment.

Greek authorities intend to develop the Crete-Athens segment, needed to counter a looming energy insufficiency on Crete as of 2020, as a national project as talks with Euroasia Interconnector, backed by the European Commission, have reached an impasse.

According to the energy ministry, if Euroasia Interconnector does not make today’s deadline, then RAE, basing its actions on a certified two-year delay of the project, will be able to categorize the Crete-Athens segment as a national project and, as follow-up action, if needed, seek to secure PCI status for this interconnection.

 

Crete grid link seen as national project despite EC pressure

The energy ministry appears to have decided to develop the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection as a national project with EU cohesion policy funding through the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014 to 2020, despite intensifying European Commission pressure for this project to be headed by Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider Greek, Cypriot and Israeli PCI-status interconnection project.

Brussels has stepped up its pressure on Greece with a new letter to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, from Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, Director at the European Commission’s Directorate B on the Internal Energy Market. It was received by the authority last Thursday.

Athens and Brussels have been at odds over the Crete-Athens link ever since RAE appointed an SPV named Ariadne, a Greek power grid operator IPTO subsidiary, as the project segment’s promoter.

Greek officials are believed to also be considering applying for the Crete-Athens link’s inclusion in a new PCI list to be published by the EU, possibly along with the Crete-Cyprus segment, as part of a new firm, if Nicosia agrees.

The dispute is not expected to affect the development of the Crete-Athens link, needed to prevent an energy shortage threat on Crete as of 2020, when old diesel-fired power stations operated on the island by the main power utility PPC will need to be shut down.

IPTO’s Ariadne plans to officially launch the Crete-Athens project in the first quarter of 2019 and base its development along the lines of a financing formula applied to a smaller-scale Crete-Peloponnese link. IPTO capital, bank financing, as well as EU cohesion funding, covering up to 25 percent of the project’s budget, are intended.

TAIPED planning South Kavala UGS privatization for 2019

State privatization fund TAIPED intends to commence a sale procedure in 2019 for a depleted natural gas field in northern’s Greece’s offshore South Kavala region to be utilized as an underground gas storage facility, according to fund sources, who view the asset as pivotal infrastructure for the country’s development into a regional energy hub.

Regulatory and technical matters concerning the asset’s prospective utilization still need to be worked on before the privatization fund stages a tender for this UGS next year.

Also, the energy ministry is preparing a necessary ministerial decision to classify the asset as an independent natural gas system.

This depleted natural gas field belongs to Greek State, while the Energean Oil & Gas company holds South Kavala’s exploration and production rights. These been extended over the past few years as a result of the Greek State’s indecisiveness on how to go about utilizing the depleted Kavala gas field. A further one-year extension, with an option for an additional year, is expected.

About a year ago, an energy ministry committee advised energy minister Giorgos Stathakis to pursue converting the depleted field into a UGS, a common practice in other EU member states, where a total of 162 such facilities with an overall storage capacity of 100 billion cubic meters have been developed.

The South Kavala asset could offer storage capacity of 950 million cubic meters following a needed investment estimated at between 250 and 280 million euros.

The asset had lost its PCI status before regaining it as a result of its potential.

Consulting firm PwC and the Rokas Law Firm have been hired for the privatization procedure.

First round of crucial market test for Alexandroupoli FSRU launched

Shareholders at Greek gas company Gastrade, seeking to co-develop an FSRU project in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, will need to make final investment decisions following a market test, whose first round, entailing non-binding expressions of interest, was launched yesterday.

Binding bids, for FSRU capacity reservations, will be made in the procedure’s follow-up round.

Granted PCI status by the EU, the Alexandroupoli FSRU is being widely supported, politically, at national, European and cross-Atlantic levels.

Greek gas utility DEPA and Bulgaria’s BEH are both seen as market test certainties. Plans are now at advanced stages for both to each hold 20 percent stakes in a consortium for the Alexandroupoli FSRU’s development. Final approvals for the consortium entries of both are anticipated but still pending.

The emergence of other players, for FRSU capacity reservations, will be pivotal for the project’s development prospects. Gastrade and its project partners will be hoping to see the emergence of key international players aiming to supply gas to the wider region, including US gas exporters, firms associated with the prospective Greek-Bulgarian IGB link, including Serbian, as well as traders operating in the region.

For quite some time now, there has been talk of a US firm entering the Alexandroupoli FSRU consortium with a 20 percent stake. Cheniere has been named as a possibility but another undisclosed US contender is also believed to be in the running.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU consortium was initiated by Gastrade, a member of the Copelouzos group, before Gaslog, an international LNG carrier, also joined. At present, Gastrade holds a 40 percent stake and Gaslog holds 20 percent. DEPA and BEH are also expected to acquire respective 20 percent stakes, while any newcomer is expected to take on half of Gastrade’s current stake.

RAE adamant on its Crete link plan despite Brussels objection

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, appears adamant about its recent decision to appoint Greek power grid operator IPTO as project promoter of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection despite objections from the European Commission, insisting Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli PCI-status interconnection project, remains in charge of the Crete-Athens segment.

Latest developments in the dispute indicate RAE will push ahead with details concerning its decision to place IPTO at the helm of the Crete-Athens link within the next fortnight. These details include the provision of an environmental license to IPTO and the assembly of a technical team to work on the Crete-Athens link’s compatibility with the wider project.

In comments to energypress, RAE officials said the authority will push ahead as planned, contending its actions to date comply with EU laws and regulations. The Greek energy authority took action following a report delivered by ACER, Europe’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, which confirmed the PCI-status project was two years behind schedule, the RAE sources added.

The concerns of Greek officials are focused on a looming energy sufficiency threat on Crete as of 2020, when high-polluting diesel-fueled power stations operating on the island will need to be withdrawn.

It remains unclear if the dispute will bring together Greece’s energy minister Giorgos Stathakis and European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete for higher-level talks on the matter.

 

New Athens-Brussels standoff in Crete-Athens link talks

Two teams of Greek energy ministry and European Commission Directorate-General for Energy technocrats have reached an impasse in negotiations held to resolve a dispute concerning control of the Crete-Athens grid link, planned as a segment of the wider Greek, Cypriot and Israeli interconnection.

The failure of the two teams to reach an agreement, needed to prevent a looming energy sufficiency threat on Crete as of 2020, will now elevate the negotiations to a higher political level for direct talks between Greece’s energy minister Giorgos Stathakis and European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete.

Earlier this week, Canete made clear Greece will not be granted any further deadline extensions beyond December 31, 2019 for diesel-fueled power stations operating on Crete.

Commenting yesterday, Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, Director at the European Commission’s Directorate B on the Internal Energy Market, declared all negotiating efforts at the current level of talks have now been exhausted.

Greek power grid operator IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli PCI-status interconnection project, have fought for control of the Crete-Athens segment.

The European Commission this week declared that Euroasia Interconnector, the project promoter of the wider Greek, Cypriot and Israeli link, also remains in charge of the Crete-Athens segment. RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, has placed an SPV named Ariadne, an IPTO subsidiary, at this segment’s helm.

Canete: No further extension for Crete’s diesel-run power stations

Greece will not be given any further deadline extensions beyond December 31, 2019 for diesel-fueled power stations operating on Crete, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete has noted.

The Brussels authority was responding to a question raised by Syriza party Euro MP Stelios Kouloglou concerning Crete’s grid interconnection project delays and the island’s consequent energy sufficiency threat – if the existing power stations, high-polluting units, are withdrawn prior to the grid interconnection’s operational launch.

The Cretan interconnection – with the Peloponnese, as a first step, followed by a link with the Athens grid – represents a segment of a wider PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids.

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 a collapse of the PCI-status project.

The European Commission is working on the wider project’s development with all sides involved, Canete stressed in his response.

Greek power grid operator IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli project, have fought for control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment.

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.

Euroasia wants RAE to change its Crete-Athens link decision

Euroasia Interconnector, the consortium of Cypriot interests heading a PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete, has formally requested RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to reconsider its decision to recently award a special purpose vehicle (SPV) established by Greek power grid operator IPTO financing and development control of the aforementioned wider interconnection project’s Crete-Athens segment.

This is seen as a first step in what would develop into a full legal challenge if the Cypriot consortium’s request is neglected.

Euroasia Interconnector contends that RAE’s decision to award IPTO control of the Crete-Athens interconnection is invalid as European PCI-project  regulations do not give the Greek energy authority such powers.

The problem for the Greek side is that the argument raised by Euroasia Interconnector is essentially based on the positions expressed, in writing, by the European Commission and ACER, Europe’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators.

According to sources, Brussels this week forwarded a new letter to Greek officials, warning that the Crete-Athens segment stands to lose its PCI status if RAE’s decision on the SPV, an IPTO subsidiary dubbed “Ariadne”, is not withdrawn or revised.

 

IPTO subsidiary replaces Euroasia as Crete-Athens link project promoter

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has officially declared a special purpose vehicle (SPV) established by Greek power grid operator IPTO as project promoter for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection in place of Euroasia Interconnector, the consortium heading a wider PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete.

The SPV, named Ariadne Interconnector and established as an IPTO subsidiary, has, as a result, been given authority by RAE for the project’s financial matters and development. RAE’s decision on the matter, reached on September 10, was published yesterday in the government gazette.

The European Commission has questioned the purpose and legality of RAE’s move, seen as rushed, to award the IPTO subsidiary control of the Crete-Athens grid link.

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, is expected to resort to legal action following yesterday’s publication.

IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector have been locked in a dispute for control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens link.

Crete-Athens link SPV ‘illegal but IPTO can still lead project’

The European Commission’s division for Projects of Common Interest regards an initiative by RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, giving Greek power grid operator IPTO and its special purpose vehicle (SPV) development and financial control of a Crete-Athens grid interconnection plan as an illegal act, it made clear at a meeting in Brussels yesterday and called for the decision’s cancellation as a condition for the project to remain a part of Euroasia Interconnector, a wider PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete.

Even so, the Brussels-based PCI team noted it believes IPTO can still spearhead the project’s development and called for a solution by January that would enable the Greek operator to select its project partners as long as technical requirements are supervised by a special committee as a means of ensuring compatibility between the Crete-Athens link and the wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli interconnection.

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

Crete-Athens link project to maintain its PCI status, pundits believe

Pundits believe the European Commission’s division for Projects of Common Interest will decide to maintain the PCI status of a Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection plan at a meeting in Brussels today, as otherwise, the future of the wider Euroasia Interconnector, a PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete, would be placed in jeopardy.

The European Commission’s PCI division summoned officials representing all parties involved in a dispute for control of a Crete-Athens to today’s meeting in response to a recent decision by RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, giving Greek power grid operator IPTO the task of establishing a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the development of Crete’s interconnection with Athens.

According to RAE’s decision, IPTO 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.

A decision on the roles to be played by the Euroasia Interconnector consortium and European operators in the Crete-Athens link project’s development is also expected at today’s meeting.

IPTO and the Euroasia Interconnector consortium have been locked in a dispute for control of the Crete-Athens link.

RAE’s Crete-Athens link initiative lawful, IPTO contends

A recent decision by RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, to award  Greek power grid operator IPTO and its SPV Ariadne Interconnector development control of Crete’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens does not breach the terms of the wider Euroasia Interconnector, a PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete, as the initiative puts to action a road map agreed to between the Greece’s regulatory authority and its Cypriot counterpart, IPTO have contended in comments to energypress.

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

RAE needed to move ahead with its decision as a project delay in the Crete-Athens link, which threatens to create electricity shortages on Crete as of 2020, was confirmed by ACER, Europe’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, the IPTO officials added.

The European Commission’s division for Projects of Common Interest has summoned officials representing all parties involved in the dispute to a Brussels meeting today.

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.

 

 

 

Brussels opposes RAE move giving IPTO Cretan link control

The European Commission has raised objections to last week’s RAE (Regulatory Authority for Energy) decision awarding power grid operator IPTO financing and development control of Crete’s urgently needed major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens.

Just days ago, IPTO established a special purpose vehicle (SPV) named Ariadne for the project.

Brussels, in an email forwarded to all parties involved, noted that RAE cannot award Crete’s major-scale link 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 PCI-status 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.

The European Commission’s move essentially comes as a warning suggesting the Crete-Athens link will be regarded as a national Greek project rather than a PCI-status European project if RAE’s decision to award IPTO the project remains valid.

The Euroasia Interconnector consortium wants to avoid legal action but cannot exclude such an outcome, sources informed.

Serbia discussed as Italy alternative for East Med project

An alternative route, replacing Italy with Serbia, for the ambitious 5 billion-euro East Med natural gas pipeline, planned to carry southeast Mediterranean natural gas deposits to the EU via Greece, was discussed at a five-way meeting in Thessaloniki last Friday between leading energy-sector officials representing Greece, Israel, Bulgaria, Serbia and the US.

The meeting’s participants expressed concern over the new Italian coalition’s unfavorable view of such projects. In June, the Italian coalition described as “pointless” the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project, the final stage of a bigger project – the Southern Gas Corridor – that will take Azeri gas to western Europe. Intended to diversify Europe’s natural gas sources and lessen the reliance on Russia, the TAP project represents the cornerstone of the EU’s energy security policy.

An extremely complex 1,900-km project whose greatest part would run underwater, East Med is planned to conclude in Italy. It is being supported by the EU as a PCI- status project.

Serbia’s mining and energy minister Aleksandar Antic, one of the five participants at the Thessaloniki meeting, held within the framework of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, is believed to have embraced the plan for an alternative East Med route that would include his country – should Italy not clarify its position.

 

IPTO given control and task of forming SPV for urgent Cretan link

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided to award Greece’s power grid operator IPTO the task of swiftly establishing a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the development of Crete’s urgently needed major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens, sources have informed, confirming a previous energypress report.

Highlighting the level of urgency the matter has acquired, IPTO officials were informed of the decision over the phone and asked to set up an SPV as soon as possible.

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.

According to sources, the SPV will initially stand as a wholly-owned IPTO subsidiary while, three months later, by the end of the year, a tender will be staged inviting investor-operators to bid for a minority 49 percent stake in the venture.

The Euroasia Interconnector consortium, responsible for the wider Euroasia Interconnector, a PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete, will be offered priority rights for a 39 percent minority stake, as noted in a Memorandum of Cooperation signed by IPTO and the Euroasia Interconnector consortium.

If Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, does not exercise this priority right, then the minority 39 percent stake will be offered to network operators such as Belgium’s Elia or France’s RTE, both of which have expressed interest. They would be expected to also seek acquiring the remaining 10 percent stake.

IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, have been involved in an extended dispute for control of the wider project’s Cretan segment.

The RAE decision comes as a counterproposal to a European Commission initiative that gave the Euroasia Interconnector consortium until the end of the year to resolve its dispute with IPTO. But it does give the consortium some time to decide.

 

 

IPTO to skip Brussels meeting on Euroasia Crete link dispute

Greece’s power grid operator IPTO has chosen not to be represented at a meeting scheduled for today in Brussels as an effort to resolve the operator’s dispute with the Euroasia Interconnector consortium for control of the development of Crete’s major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens.

The Euroasia Interconnector consortium, responsible for the wider Euroasia Interconnector, a PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete, has insisted on also controlling the project’s Cretan segment.

The adamant stance of Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, makes it pointless for IPTO to be represented at today’s meeting, IPTO officials have concluded, according to enegypress sources.

The Greek and Cypriot regulatory authorities for energy and European Commission officials are all expected be participate at today’s meeting.

Over the past couple of months, the Euroasia consortium has claimed Belgian power grid operator Elia would finance its stake in the Euroasia project. This has yet to occur.

According to sources, Elia intends to conduct a feasibility study to decide if its involvement in the investment plan for the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli interconnection project would be viable.

Sources have not ruled out a meeting between IPTO and Elia officials during the current month for investment plan talks.

At this stage, RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, appears likely to award IPTO the Crete-Athens segment of the wider project by early September.