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Papanastasiou: Positive results from Israel-Cyprus-Crete interconnector study

The results of the study on the Israel-Cyprus-Crete electricity interconnection project, formerly known as the EuroAsia Interconnector but now renamed to Great Sea Interconnector, look positive and Cyprus' decision on whether to participate in the project will be taken by the end of January, Energy Minister George Papanastasiou said.

He was speaking after a meeting at the Presidential Palace, in the presence of President Nikos Christodoulides, with a delegation of the Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE) of Greece, which is the project's implementing body.

For his part, the President and CEO of ADMIE, Manousos Manousakis, expressed the operator’s desire for the Republic of Cyprus to participate in the project and stressed that with the launch of the project, "a new energy era will begin for Cyprus, as we will have cheaper, cleaner energy, sufficiency and energy security."

In addition, Manousakis announced that the construction work for the Cyprus-Crete interconnection project will start in 2024 and will take 4 to 5 years to complete, while adding that at the end of 2024 a contract will be signed with the German company Siemens, which will be responsible for connecting the two converters in Cyprus with the one in Crete.

Speaking after the meeting, the Energy Minister, after describing the two meetings he had today, one at the Ministry of Energy and the other at the President's Office with the ADMIE delegation, as useful, said that during the first meeting points in need of immediate intervention by the Republic of Cyprus were noted, while in the second meeting President Christodoulides said that the project should proceed.

He added that the project study "has been completed by the firm that had delivered the first draft of the study" and "it seems that the results are positive."

The Energy Minister recommended waiting until "the completion of the study for taking the investment decision" to participate in the project.

According to Papanastasiou, the investment decision for the Republic of Cyprus' participation was to be taken in December, but "because of the delay in delivering the study to us in a final form", it is expected that this decision "will be taken by the end of January."

He said that today the individual stages of the project's implementation were discussed, adding that "the project is now named Great Sea Interconnector to mark the movement of the project towards its construction phase".

Contract signed for voltage converter construction

Papanastasiou said that "a very important contract has already been signed with a specific organisation for the laying of the cable" and this will be followed by the signing of "another important contract within 2024 for the construction of the voltage (electricity) converter with another company which has already been informed".

Asked whether the Republic of Cyprus' participation would involve the state guarantee of loans from the European Investment Bank, Papanastasiou replied in the negative, saying that "the possibility is that the Republic of Cyprus will be involved in the project - assuming that it will take the investment decision in January - with an equity sum."

Capital majority by RoC and ADMIE

He also said that "the entity that will represent the Republic of Cyprus together with ADMIE should have a majority" of the share capital, while in response to a question on the amount Cyprus will pay, the minister said that "a sum of 100 million euros is prescribed for the purchase of share capital of the specific company that will own the electricity interconnection".

In response to a recent remark of his about a financing gap of €1 billion, the Minister said that the total cost of the Cyprus-Crete electricity interconnection, due to increased materials prices, had risen to €1.9 billion from €1.5 billion, adding that "assuming that there is about €800 million grant from the European Commission and the €100 million from the Republic of Cyprus, it is estimated that €1.2 billion will have to be found from other resources."

"There is the contribution of ADMIE, there are other investment funds that have expressed interest and we believe that in this logic it will be relatively easy to find the €1.2 billion," he added.

Contact with Israel stopped due to Hamas

Asked to comment on the stage of negotiations with Israel, Papanastasiou said that "they were proceeding normally at the technical committee level until the conflict with Hamas arose," adding that "we have stopped contact at Israel's request and we hope that the hostilities will end so that we can continue from where we left the consultations."

A project of strategic importance, says ADMIE

ADMIE President and CEO Manousos Manousakis said that "it is a project of strategic importance for both Greece and Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean as a whole and the project’s undertaking by ADMIE is an aspect of the brotherly relationship between Greece and Cyprus."

He said that "ADMIE wants the Republic of Cyprus to participate as a shareholder in the project in order for it to be implemented more quickly, without hindrance in the near future" and added that "with the launch of the project, a new energy era for Cyprus begins, as we will have cheaper cleaner energy, sufficiency and energy security".

Asked when he expects the implementation of the whole project to start, Manousakis said the Crete-Cyprus electricity interconnection is the mature project and "the interconnection between Cyprus and Israel is maturing".

Work starts in 2024, contract with Siemens

Manousakis noted that the contract signing with French company Nexan (last July) "means that the cable construction for our industry has actually already started" and added that "construction work will start within 2024 and beyond that both converters in Cyprus have to be built and be connected to the converter in Crete".

"This project will be undertaken by Siemens, with whom we will sign a contract at the end of 2024, as these are special projects that need to be studied in 2024 by the company”, he added.

Around 4.5 years for project completion

Regarding the implementation time of the Cyprus-Crete section, Manousakis, after citing the experience of the Attica-Crete interconnection, which is a project using the same technology, said that we signed the contract with the manufacturers in 2020 and "we estimate that it will take 4.5 years to complete", i.e. the end of 2024.

He said that with the signing with Siemens we will have to add 4 to 5 years to complete the Cyprus-Crete electricity interconnection project.

He added that "it is important not to focus on the cost as an absolute number, but to focus on the fact that the cost of electricity for the consumer in Cyprus (residential and industrial) will be reduced with the completion of this cable."

"We are absolutely sure of this, we can prove it," he stressed.

He also said that "for the Cyprus-Israel project to start, an agreement between the regulators of Cyprus and Israel", similar to the one between the Cyprus and Greek authorities, "must be reached in order for the project to be considered economically viable as the revenue will be secured and then construction will start between Cyprus and Israel."

Manousakis said the new commercial name of the project is Great Sea Interconnector and marks the start of the project’s construction.

(Source: CNA, Photo: PIO)

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