ENERGY: Cyprus-Egypt deal to build power link to Europe

Cyprus firm and Egypt sign an estimated 2 billion euro deal to lay a 310-kilometre subsea electricity cable that will be the first interconnector between Africa and Europe.

Nicosia-based EuroAfrica described it as a landmark agreement.

With the historic signingthe first major electricity interconnection project linking Africa with Europe has been realised, said EuroAfrica chairman Ioannis Kasoulides.

Cyprus now becomes a major hub for the transmission of electricity from Africa to Europe, and Egypt establishes itself as a regional energy hub for the transmission of electricity from Africa to the Arabian peninsula, he added.

It is estimated the project implementation will take 36 months from the start of construction with the lowest point 3,000 metres below sea-level.

Phase 1 will see the interconnector carry a capacity of 1,000MW which can be upgraded to 2,000MW at a later stage.

The national electricity grid of Egypt will be linked to the European electricity system through Cyprus and will contribute to energy security, said Kasoulides.

Following the crises in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the EU has been keen to develop alternative sources of energy to reduce its dependence on imports from Russia.

In the past year, gas has started flowing from four major new fields off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, and output is already sufficient to meet domestic needs.

The Arab world’s most populous country is now seeking to develop the infrastructure to export its newfound energy wealth, both as liquefied natural gas and as electricity.

Egypt is also seeking to import gas from fields off Cyprus and Israel to boost the profitability of the new liquefaction and export facilities it is developing on its Mediterranean coast.

In September, Egypt signed a deal with Cyprus to build an undersea pipeline to pump Cypriot offshore gas to Egypt for processing for export to Europe.

The plans have led to closer eastern Mediterranean ties, with Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Israel holding regular high-level meetings.

The electricity link agreement was signed in Cairo on Wednesday by EuroAfrica Interconnector CEO Nasos Ktorides and Sabah Mohamed Mashal, chairperson of the Egyptian electricity transmission company in the presence of Egypt Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly.

Signing the agreement follows the conclusion of viability studies conducted by the EuroAfrica Interconnector which showed the benefits of the project, as well as its maturity, allowing it to enter the implementation stage, said EuroAfrica in a statement Thursday.

The agreement provides for the development of an electricity interconnection with the use of subsea high-voltage direct current (HVDC) cables with the capacity to transmit 2,000MW, it added.

Egypt and Cyprus have been involved in bolstering their regional political, military and economic ties with energy cooperation being a key driver.

Cairo seeks to transform the country into an important power transmission and energy hub between Africa and the Middle East and become a major electricity provider to Europe through Cyprus.

Egypt president Abdel Fatah El-Sisi is said to personally monitor the cable project.

Egypt’s Minister of Electricity Shaker El-Markabi said the venture will make Cairo an important electricity and energy partner for the European Union.

Source: The Financial Mirror