ENERGY: EU, Cyprus officials urge Greece to return to electricity cable project

Officials from the European Union, Cyprus energy agencies and the EuroAsia Interconnector have called on Greece to resume discussions to implement the [Israel-Cyprus-Greece electricity cable] project under the PCI TEN-E Regulation and following the Roadmap of the European Commission.

After a meeting held in Nicosia, the European Commission, the Cyprus authorities and the official Project Promoter issued a joint announcement stating that they reiterated their support for the timely implementation of the EuroAsia Interconnector linking Cyprus, Israel, Crete and Attica in Greece within the framework of the Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list of priority electricity corridors.

The announcement said that the involved parties reviewed the progress achieved in the implementation of the project in its entirety, as well as recent developments, and in particular the Crete-Attica link, expressing the paramount importance of the EuroAsia Interconnector as regards energy efficiency, security of supply and ending the energy isolation of Crete, and Cyprus as the last electrically isolated EU Member State, and to achieve European energy targets.

The participants at the meeting, including K.D. Borchardt, Deputy Director General DG Energy, European Commission, officials from the Cyprus Ministry of Energy, the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority and the island’s Transmission System Operator, as well as senior executives from EuroAsia Interconnector, praised the progress achieved so far in project financing, licensing, and the procurement process, which is in the final stage of the issue of the Invitation to Tender (ITT), having already received comments from the prequalified tenderers.

The meeting recognised that the best way to ensure the timely and efficient implementation of PCI 3.10 in its entirety, and in particular the Crete-Attica section (PCI 3.10.3) and the optimal interoperability between all the sections, is under the provisions of the Roadmap of the European Commission (16.10.2018) with the support and participation of all involved parties in Cyprus and Greece.

They concluded by expressing their sincere desire that the Greek side will resume discussions to implement the project under the PCI TEN-E Regulation and following the Roadmap of the European Commission which was already preliminary agreed, for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders, partners and communities.

The announcement coincides with the unilateral decision of the Greek government to assign the Crete-Attica link to the Chinese-controlled Independent Power Transmission Operator S.A. (ADMIE), and proceed as a national project, depriving that section of the project from European funds.

Energy Commissioner Arias Canete had warned the Greek Energy Ministry that the specific project should be implemented by the EuroAsia Interconnector in order for it to remain in the list of EU Projects of Common Interest (PCI) and to take into account the geopolitical, economic and regulatory consequences if the particular project goes ahead as a national one.

Earlier this month, Greek press reports suggested that the European Commission is preparing to launch an infringement procedure with regard to the Crete-Attica interconnection based on the PCI regulation, triggered by the fact that the Greek Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) assigned the implementation of the Crete-Attica link to Ariadni interconnection, a subsidiary of the Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE).

Greek news reports added that whereas the Euros 1 bln cost of the Crete-Attica section of the EuroAsia Interconnector would be reduced by EU grants worth Euros 355 mln, the project would not be eligible to this funding if developed by ADMIE as a ‘national’ project, thus burdening Greek taxpayers and consumers by an additional Euros 456 mln throughout the lifetime of the project.

The Greek Energy Ministry wanted EuroAsia Interconnector to surrender all rights of the project to Ariadni in order to award the contract to a company of its choice, which sources in Brussels said would jeopardise the secure construction and interoperability of the entire cable system from Israel, via Cyprus to Crete and then to Attica in mainland Greece.

Crete faces an energy crisis as it has to decommission its polluting diesel power stations by the end of 2019 and suffer from energy interruption and shortage as the ADMIE alternative could cost more and take longer to build than the EuroAsia Interconnector, which the Greek government had embraced and praised up until six months ago.

The issue has also taken on a political aspect with the Crete-Attica link and the Syriza-administration’s choice of contractors becoming a hot debate among ruling and opposition parties, with voters and local media in Crete worried that they will suffer because of the government’s delays.

Source: The Financial Mirror