News
Cyprus & World News

ENERGY: Cyprus cable operator warns Greek regulator over 'illegal plans'

22 January, 2019

By Makis Georghiou

EuroAsia Interconnector, project promoter of the EU-approved subsea cable that will link the electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece, has warned Greek energy regulator RAE to rescind its “illegal decision” to appoint a new entity to build the Crete-Attica section.


It was called on to comply with the EU Commission’s roadmap issued last October to complete the project as scheduled, by June 2022.

According to Greek media, the Cyprus-based operator of the €3.5 bln project wrote to RAE last week calling the regulator “to comply with its obligations under the Roadmap and the Regulation by revoking its decisions … and issuing a new decision in accordance with the foreseen Roadmap conditions.”

EuroAsia said that RAE’s decision to ignore the Commission’s roadmap and to unilaterally appoint Ariadne Interconnection S.P.S.A. – a freshly-created subsidiary of transmission system operator ADMIE, in which China Grid has a controlling 24% stake – to build the Crete-Attica section of the cable, have caused unnecessary delays and undermine the project’s viability as going it alone would deny it of EU funding and burden the Greek taxpayer to the tune of about €1 bln.

It argued that RAE has also ignored the shared authority of the Cyprus energy regulator, CERA and that it was imposing its jurisdiction over the entire project and intervening in issues beyond its remit.

Athens daily Kathimerini reported on Tuesday that EuroAsia’s accusations of “continued and long-term illegal actions” by RAE could be a prelude to a “judicial adventure” for the project.

The newspaper added that early last week, RAE had called on all parties in Greece and Cyprus to appoint members to a technical committee that would oversee the interoperability issues.

However, EuroAsia responded by saying that RAE had no say in determining the technical specifications of the entire cable and as EuroAsia Interconnector Ltd is the only operator recognised by Brussels as an official project of common interest (PCI), it was up to EuroAsia to ensure, and not RAE, that all three cable sections, as well as the four converter stations, would be compatible and up to the highest standards.

In a separate announcement posted on its website on January 10, EuroAsia Interconnector said it was proceeding as planned and issued the tender documents for the award of the contracts for the construction of Stage 1 (1,000MW) of the entire Israel – Cyprus – Crete – Attica interconnector with an estimated budget of €3.5 bln.

According to the company’s announcement, the “electricity link provides substantial social and economic benefits to the citizens of the involved countries, ends the energy isolation of Cyprus (the last isolated European Union member state) and Greece’s largest island – Crete, and ensures the security of supply, while creating an alternative electricity corridor connecting the East Mediterranean to Europe”.

It said that the Kofinou (Cyprus) and Korakia (Crete) interconnection is scheduled to be completed by December 2023 and that the project “drew the attention of all major HVDC Converter manufacturers and all major HVDC Cable manufacturers and installers, who requested to participate in the tender for the construction of this challenging electricity interconnection.”

In its last letter to RAE – also distributed to the European Commission’s energy authorities, as well as the European federation of energy regulators, ACER – EuroAsia Interconnector said that as per its email of November 1, 2018, and in full compliance with the Commission’s requests, it had appointed Didier Wiot (CEO of Belgium’s Elia Grid International) as member of the technical committee provided for by the roadmap.

In effect, this indicates that RAE had ignored the Commission’s roadmap and decided on January 14 to set up a new technical committee, to which only ADMIE had responded.

In a further blow to Energy Minister Yiorgos Stathakis, who seems to be the driving force behind removing EuroAsia Interconnector from the picture and replacing it with Ariadne, the municipal council of Malevizio, neighbouring the Crete capital of Heraklion, issued a stern warning on Tuesday telling the government that it would not accept changing the cable’s landing point from the already agreed location of Korakia.

This follows ADMIE subsidiary Ariadne’s decision for a landing point at Linoperamata which has been designated a tourist area.

“Some people are trying to change the plans and I would advise them to reconsider, as they will be faced with the entire local community and municipal authority,” said Mayor Costas Mamoulakis.

 

Makis Georghiou is a Financial Mirror columnist on regional, energy and shipping issues