12° Nicosia,
27 May, 2024

Tensions mount over 'Great Sea Interconnector'

Greek Minister's frustration highlights political strain as project faces scrutiny

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

The Greek Energy Minister, Theodoros Skylakakis, expressed frustration at the Delphi Economic Forum regarding the tactics employed by the Cypriot government concerning the final investment decision on the Great Sea Interconnector power cable. This marks the second incident where the project has caused political tension. The first was when the Greek government decided to proceed independently with the third phase of the project, involving the Crete-Peloponnese section. Despite Athens' annoyance, Nicosia acknowledges the concerns raised by the Greek government and the Implementing Agency of the AMIE project but dismisses the publicity surrounding the issue as misplaced and unnecessary.

The current climate ends the euphoria following the change in project promoter, politically supported by both countries. ADMIE announced plans to invite investors shortly, while Nicosia is not expected to make a final decision on Cyprus's participation until July. Divergent views between Athens and Nicosia also extend to other project-related matters, such as the cost-benefit study and the business plan.

Despite the Greek Energy Minister's public frustration, Cyprus insists on conducting a new study on investment costs and benefits before making a final decision. Competent sources suggest the study should be conducted by a third party for ethical reasons. The relevant ministry is reportedly in consultation with an international firm for this purpose.

ADMIE, in response to Skylakakis's remarks, expresses urgency in proceeding with inviting investors for the power cable project. The Implementing Entity emphasizes the project's significance for Cyprus to be interconnected with the European electricity system. It refutes claims made in Nicosia about the business plan, asserting that it was prepared with the most up-to-date assumptions by a reputable auditing firm.

In Nicosia, efforts are underway to mitigate Greek concerns. Sources justify the Greek minister's reaction due to the Implementing Entity's responsibility towards the EU in the event of non-implementation of the project. Pressure from the Greek side is also attributed to investor interest, given Cyprus's involvement with a stake of up to €100 million.

While studies for the project exist, Nicosia admits the need for updates. The most crucial study, the cost-benefit analysis, was initially conducted in 2017. ADMIE has committed to delivering an updated study by June, though its stance on the government's intention to commission an international firm remains unclear. For the business plan study, ADMIE has undergone two updates, one in December 2023 and another recently.

Cyprus  |  energy  |  Greece

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